President Clinton to Meet with Peace Corps Volunteers and Crisis Corps Volunteers in Central America Next Week; Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan to Accompany President on Trip
March 8, 1999Washington, D.C., March 8, 1999—President Clinton will meet with Peace Corps volunteers and Crisis Corps volunteers on his four-day trip to Central America this week to view first-hand the relief efforts underway in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan is accompanying the President and Mrs. Clinton on the first two days of the trip, which begins today, in Nicaragua. On Monday afternoon, President Clinton will meet with about 20 Peace Corps volunteers and five Crisis Corps volunteers at a school in Posoltega, Nicaragua, where the President will address an estimated 5,000 people about the devastation that occurred last fall, when mud slides caused by Hurricane Mitch washed away entire villages and claimed hundreds of lives. On Tuesday afternoon, March 9, the President will see another 20 Peace Corps volunteers and five Crisis Corps volunteers at the airport in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, just before he departs for El Salvador. Currently, 585 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in Central America, along with an additional 26 Crisis Corps volunteers—12 in Honduras, six in Nicaragua, six in Guatemala and two in El Salvador. Additional Crisis Corps volunteers will be sent to all four countries in the next two months. The Crisis Corps is a new program, announced by President Clinton in June 1996, that allows skilled former Peace Corps volunteers to help in the recovery efforts of people in areas stressed by natural disasters or humanitarian crises. On Jan. 27, Tipper Gore spoke at a ceremony at Peace Corps headquarters to honor 23 Crisis Corps volunteers who were leaving for service in Central America and the Caribbean to help in the aftermath of hurricanes Mitch and Georges. "The Crisis Corps is a great example of using the unique skills of experienced Peace Corps volunteers to address the needs of developing countries," Mrs. Gore said. "These Crisis Corps volunteers will provide the assistance needed to help the people of Central America and the Caribbean rebuild their homes, communities, and infra-structure. Their work there will also help our country strengthen its emergency response capabilities and offer faster, more effective assistance to others who face future natural disasters and crises." In Central America, Crisis Corps volunteers are assisting with the coordination of long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts, including rebuilding homes and other structures to withstand natural disasters; working with farmers to replant crops; providing education about disease control and sanitation; and working with local and international organizations to repair damaged water systems.