President Clinton To Visit Peace Corps Volunteers On First Stop of 10-Day Trip to Africa
March 20, 1998Washington, D.C., March 20, 1998—President Clinton will visit with about 30 Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana on March 23, the first day of his historic 10 day trip to Africa.
The first U.S. President to visit Africa in more than 20 years, President Clinton will meet with the Peace Corps volunteers and review their projects.
"We are delighted the President has chosen to meet with our volunteers," said Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan. "The first-ever group of Peace Corps volunteers were sent to Ghana by President Kennedy in 1961, so it is very notable that the President is visiting them on the first day of his trip."
Gearan noted that President Clinton had met four of these same volunteers in June 1996, when he hosted a 35th anniversary celebration at the White House for new volunteers about to leave for Ghana.
While in Ghana, President Clinton will visit the volunteers at TechnoServe, a private, non-profit organization based in the U.S. with offices worldwide. About a year ago, the Peace Corps began working with TechnoServe to help Ghanaian small businesses export numerous crops, including cashews, pineapples, and woven baskets.
One volunteer, Tom Brodd, of Madison, Wisc., recently supervised the planning and installation of the first community-owned cashew processing center in Ghana. He has been successful in promoting the planting and care of cashew trees, which was instrumental in locating the processing center there. Cashews are expected to become a significant export product in the next few years.
Another volunteer, Felicia Burzell, 28, of Greensboro, N.C., is working with a basket-weaving cooperative of more than 700 weavers from 11 villages. The women meet under large Boaboab trees and weave colorful baskets that they now export to stores around the world, including The Body Shop. TechnoServe provides technical and credit support assistance.
Brodd and Burzell are just two of the 147 Peace Corps volunteers currently serving in Ghana.
Because interest in the Peace Corps remains so strong at home, President Clinton has proposed expanding the Peace Corps, putting the agency on the path to 10,000 volunteers serving overseas by the year 2000. The proposal is the largest funding increase requested for the Peace Corps since the 1960s.
Currently, about 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 84 countries to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, start new businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.