US Peace Corps Starts Tour of Duty

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Mimi Machakaire

A total 54 United States Peace Corps volunteers were sworn-in Thaba Bosiu last week during a ceremony that marked the beginning of their duties in the various parts of Lesotho.

The United States Embassy’s Chargé D’Affaires, Daniel Katz, presided over the ceremony, which will see the number of Peace Corps volunteering in Lesotho increase to 112.

This ceremony followed a three-month orientation programme in different communities where the new Peace Corps are expected to volunteer their services in the education and health sectors.

Volunteers in the education program will serve as English and Mathematics teachers in both primary and secondary schools while those under the health program will work with community-based organisations to contribute to the management of HIV and AIDS related initiatives targeting young people.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Katz said the volunteers have worked successfully to strengthen mutual understanding and the bond of friendship between Basotho and the people of the United States of America.

“To date, more than 2,500 volunteers have served in Lesotho, working closely with their Basotho counterparts,” Mr Katz said.

Peace Corps are also serving in 65 countries, with over 9,000 volunteers and trainees around the world.

“We are proud of the Peace Corps for having served in Lesotho for 50 years, working in rural and semi-rural locations where there is the most need and the least amount of resource,” he said, adding that the Peace Corps also participated in the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

All the volunteers, he said, used their community organisation skills to extend the reach of national and international efforts to respond to the epidemic in Lesotho.

“We work with the Government of Lesotho, Non-Government and community-based organisations, in the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic and appreciate the unique role our volunteers play in this effort,” Mr Katz said.

He further extended his gratitude to the Ministries of Education and Training; as well as Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation for their strong support.

“Both Ministers prepared the way for these volunteers. Some of them will continue the work of previous volunteers, while others will be the first Peace Corps volunteers in various communities. Together we are contributing to the goal of improving education, health and opportunities for young people in Lesotho.”

He added that, for all the great work that Peace Corps volunteers are doing, much can be achieved through collaborative efforts with Basotho and other actors.

“I congratulate the Peace Corps staff members and especially the team of language and cultural facilitators who have ensured that volunteers possessed the necessary language skills and the essential professional and cultural knowledge that they need to further develop their capacity to operate in the country. I recognise the host communities and the families of Bela-Bela, Kolojane and Mokomahatsi in the Berea district who have welcomed volunteers in their homes and shown them all the things that make this country so special,” Mr Katz said.

The Peace Corps is a volunteer programme run by the Government of the United States of America with its mission objectives including providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand the American culture and helping Americans to understand cultures of other countries.

The volunteers work for two years, providing services in sectors including education, health and Non-Governmental Organisations.

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