Peace Corps Volunteers Begin Service in St. Kitts & Nevis

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2004 –Today, the Peace Corps officially returned to the islands of St. Kitts & Nevis with the swearing-in of ten new Peace Corps volunteers. These volunteers will primarily concentrate their efforts on youth and community development.

Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis Dr. Denzil L. Douglas addressed the new volunteers in saying, “You are spearheading a new journey between the United States and St. Kitts & Nevis. You are to be trailblazers for this fine and altruistic organization.”

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Peace Corps Country Director Earl Phillips hosted the official opening of Peace Corps’ office on the island. Present at the office opening and ceremony were Peace Corps’ Director for the Inter-America and Pacific Region Maryann Minutillo, newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados Mary E. Kramer, Prime Minister Douglas, and Premier Hon Vance Amory.

Collaborating with various government ministries, the new volunteers will support their local communities and schools by assisting in the development of youth programs and helping to obtain resources necessary to give local youth the means to succeed. From 1991 to 1998, Peace Corps volunteers in St. Kitts & Nevis were involved in art education projects to promote art awareness, interest, and participation. When the project ended in 1998, the program in St. Kitts & Nevis was temporarily closed.

Much like other Eastern Caribbean nations, the youth of St. Kitts & Nevis represents a majority of its population. The islands of St. Kitts & Nevis comprise the smallest country in the western hemisphere. St. Kitts & Nevis’ capital city is Basseterre, which holds nearly half of the nation’s total population of 40,700. The primary language is English, and the major industries are agriculture, light manufacturing, and tourism.

The Peace Corps’ Eastern Caribbean program currently includes the countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada/Carriacou, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and St. Kitts & Nevis. Peace Corps volunteers are working on programs that aim to provide job skills training and health services to youth, increase disaster preparedness and mitigation, and increase awareness of HIV/AIDS. Over 3,200 volunteers have served in the Eastern Caribbean since 1961. More than 115 volunteers are presently serving in the region.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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