Peace Corps Volunteers to Return to Ethiopia

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 2006 Peace Corps Acting Director Jody Olsen announced today that volunteers will be returning to the African nation of Ethiopia, the second most populated country in sub-Saharan Africa, for the first time since 1999.

The Peace Corps/Ethiopia program is scheduled to open in fiscal year 2007, with approximately 40 volunteers arriving next summer. The volunteers will be working in the field of health and HIV/AIDS education and prevention, with possible expansion into other sectors in the coming years.

The Peace Corps volunteers will work closely with the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Emergency Plan) through the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. The Peace Corps is currently active in 9 of the 15 Emergency Plan focus countries, and more than 2,600 Peace Corps volunteers are working in HIV/AIDS. Ethiopia will be the 10th Emergency Plan country in which the Peace Corps is involved. The Peace Corps volunteers are in a unique position to assist in the health and HIV/AIDS education sector with their language skills and integration into communities.

We are excited that we have found a way to return to Ethiopia, a program that has had a long standing history of warmly accepting volunteers into local communities, said Dr. Olsen. Our hope is that the Ethiopia program becomes a model for the accomplishments that Peace Corps volunteers demonstrate in the health field around the world.

The volunteers will be working primarily with non-government organizations involved in health and HIV/AIDS, community groups, and youth groups to increase effectiveness of their programs.

The Ethiopia program was one of the first for the Peace Corps, originally opening in 1962. From 1962-77 and 1995-99, Ethiopia hosted approximately 3,500 volunteers. Over the years, the primary focus was on education, with the goal of training skilled workers and promoting economic development. In addition, volunteers worked on agriculture projects and health projects ranging from establishing pediatric clinics to working with the smallpox eradication programs.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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