President of Botswana Visits Peace Corps

His Excellency Festus Gontebanye Mogae Featured as part of the Loret Miller Ruppe Speaker Series

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter welcomed the President of Botswana, Festus Gontebanye Mogae, to speak to Peace Corps staff as part of the Loret Miller Ruppe Speaker Series on Tuesday, September 18. President Mogae is the second guest speaker in the series, which features individuals who have made remarkable contributions to the Peace Corps in the tradition of the Agencys longest serving director, Loret Miller Ruppe.

In his remarks President Mogae thanked the Peace Corps and the 2,000 Volunteers who have served in Botswana since 1966. Currently, 77 Volunteers are working in Botswana with an exclusive focus on HIV/AIDS projects.

"It is with the greatest humility and respect that I, on behalf of a grateful nation, commend the Peace Corps, past and present for being amongst those members of the human race who have decided, not in exchange for any material reward, to make a positive difference to the lives of others," said President Mogae.

Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana are focused on training community members in HIV/AIDS prevention while they initiate prevention programs, motivate support for AIDS orphans, and assist in planning, organizing, and conducting prevention-related activities.

With respect to the HIV/AIDS challenge that Botswana is currently facing, President Mogae commented, "Peace Corps Volunteers have played an invaluable role in our struggle against the virus."

President Mogae is the third president of the Republic of Botswana. Elected in 1998 he has made improving education and eradicating the HIV/AIDS pandemic priorities of his administration. Born in 1939 in Serowe, Botswana, he studied economics at the Universities of Oxford and Sussex in the United Kingdom. He began his government career as a planning officer for Botswanas Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, where he progressed to become the Director of Economic Affairs.

During his illustrious career in public service, President Mogae has also served as a permanent secretary to the president, secretary to the cabinet, and in 1989 he was named Minister of Finance and Development Planning. He has won numerous awards, including the Naledi Ya Botswana, the highest honor of the Republic of Botswana.

"President Mogae is a man who truly loves his land and has given his life as a public servant to his country," said Director Tschetter. "We are truly honored to have President Mogae here today and we thank him for his wonderful hospitality."

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Since 1961, more than 187,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 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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