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Peace Corps re-enters Ethiopia
By Muluken Yewondwossen
42 American Peace Corps volunteers have officially launched a two-year service in Ethiopia on Thursday.
The Peace Corps re-entered Ethiopia in partnership with the government of Ethiopia, specifically the Ministry of Health. The new program is in cooperation with the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).
Ron Tschetter, Director of the Peace Corps, swore-in the volunteers at a ceremony hosted by Donald Yamamoto, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, on December 13, 2007. All 42 volunteers will focus on the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia and were in Woliso for two months and half to learn Oromifa and Amharic languages.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day, the day we come back to Ethiopia. All 42 new Peace Corps Volunteers have a life-changing experience ahead of them. I cherish our relationship with the people of Ethiopia and hope to grow this program year by year. I congratulate the Peace Corps staff that has been working hard to re-start our program. Today I have the honor to swear-in 42 people who will serve as un-official American ambassadors, they represent the best of our country,” said Director Tschetter.
Ambassador Yamamoto said at the event, “This partnership between our two countries, our two peoples, unites us in a shared endeavor to create a more peaceful and prosperous place for future generations.”
The group of volunteers includes six experienced volunteers who have served in five other African countries: Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Guinea, Swaziland and Tanzania. The group also includes two 50-plus volunteers, two married couples and an Ethiopian-American.
Ethiopia was one of the first countries to invite Peace Corps to establish its program in 1962, just one year after the Peace Corps was founded. The primary focus of the program was on education, with the goal of training skilled workers and promoting economic development. In addition, volunteers worked in agriculture, basic education, tourism, health, economic development and teaching English as a foreign language.
The Peace Corps remained in Ethiopia until 1977 and returned in 1995 but suspended the program again in 2000 due to security concerns during the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Around three thousand Peace Corps Volunteers served in Ethiopia over those years.
The new program is in cooperation with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The volunteers will be developing HIV/AIDS education and prevention through care and treatment; orphan and vulnerable children services; and treatment, including home-based care (palliative care) services.
The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 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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