Peace Corps to Send Crisis Corps Volunteers to Central America
November 20, 1998Washington, D.C., November 20, 1998—The Peace Corps will send Crisis Corps volunteers to Central America to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan announced today. "The kind of devastation caused by Mitch has strengthened and renewed our commitment to the people of Central America," Gearan told an audience of nearly 300 this morning at the 35th annual convention of the Partners of the Americas. "I am pleased to announce today that over the next few months, the Peace Corps expects to send several dozen Crisis Corps volunteers to Central America to help overcome the devastation there." The Crisis Corps is a new program within the Peace Corps in which former Peace Corps volunteers provide short-term disaster relief and humanitarian aid to countries in need. Hundreds of former volunteers who served in the region have contacted the agency to volunteer with the Crisis Corps. Gearan talked about the work Crisis Corps volunteers have done in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, including current projects in Bolivia and Antigua helping with drought relief and counseling single mothers. Crisis Corps volunteers have also completed their work helping after an earthquake in Chile and flooding in Paraguay. In addition to the Crisis Corps volunteers, currently serving Peace Corps volunteers in Central America and the Caribbean have been assisting with relief efforts to help victims in the aftermath of Hurricanes Mitch and Georges—distributing packages of food, clothes, blankets and medicine, working in orphanages, and helping organize reconstruction of homes. In his speech today to the Partners of the Americas, which is a volunteer-based organization that coordinates partnerships between American states and countries in Latin America, Gearan also spoke about the Peace Corps' long-standing commitment to the region. More than 55,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in South America, Central America and the Caribbean since 1961; currently, more than 1,500 volunteers are working throughout the region. Volunteers in the Americas are working with small businesses—especially those run by women and youth—enabling them to gain access to micro-credit and small business programs. Across Central America, Peace Corps volunteers are also helping to educate more than 100,000 school children, farmers, and community groups about the environment.