Mrs Stephanie Sullivan, the United States Ambassador to Ghana on Thursday swore-in 35 Peace Corps Volunteers in Accra.
The new volunteers, who would be serving for two years, join nearly 5,000 Americans who have served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana over the past 58 years.
Of the 35, 15 would be taking up postings in the agriculture sector of the economy, while the rest would be deployed into the health sector across the country.
Peace Corps came to Ghana in 1961 when President Dr Kwame Nkrumah embarked on his Accelerated Development Plan in Education.
US President John F. Kennedy’s goal of establishing the Peace Corps was to build the capacity of host nations and to promote international peace and friendship through the exchange of culture.
In Ghana, through the decades, Peace Corps expanded its activities to include environment, health, enterprise development, water and sanitation.
Mrs Sullivan in her address said even though it had been 58 years of Peace Corps activities in Ghana, this relationship continues to thrive, and remains highly valued by both countries.
“Volunteers’ work has changed over the years in response to evolving development challenges. Regardless of the nature of the challenges, Volunteers are highly effective working at the grassroots level – in communities throughout Ghana, and with organisations that work on a daily basis to improve the lives of the Ghanaian people,” she said.
“Our ideas and ideals – expressed through individuals working in partnership – have extraordinary impact. I see this every day in our development programmes in Ghana, where we change and save lives through our agriculture, education, governance, health, water and sanitation, and security programmes.”
She said this could also be seen in their exchange programmes such as the Young African Leaders Initiative; adding that under the flagship programme, the Mandela Washington Fellowship, young leaders from Africa hone their skills at the US Colleges and universities, and return to the continent to craft solutions – in Africa, for Africa, by Africans.
“We follow the principle of helping people gain the capacity to help themselves. Peace Corps is at the front line of that work.”
The Ambassador noted that they do this because a stable, prosperous and democratic Ghana was good for Ghanaians and good for Americans.
Mrs Sullivan appealed to the Peace Corps Volunteers to serve as grassroot ambassadors.
“Working diligently in your communities, you will touch lives in unimaginable ways. Through your actions and attitudes, your service and your kindness to others, you will show that Americans care deeply about Ghanaians and are committed to work side-by-side for the long term,” she said.
Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Minister of Health said the friendly corporation between Ghana and the US would continue to grow stronger and flourish.
He said there were some thousands of Ghanaians, whose lives had been positively affected as a result of the activities of Peace Corps Volunteers.
“To the Volunteers, I commend you not only for your spirit of voluntarism, but also for accepting to serve in the most rural and under-served communities, where even some Ghanaians will refuse to go,” the Minister said.
“Remember that you are role models, change agents and most importantly, ambassadors of the US.”
Mr Gordon Brown, Country Director, Peace Corps Ghana, said this batch of Volunteers consist of the best that the US had to offer.
Some of the Peace Corps Volunteers in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) expressed their joy of been given the opportunity to serve in Ghana.
A couple, Madam Emily Crane and Mr Wes Knowles, who have been posted to Bolgatanga, told the GNA that they would be using their skills, knowledge and experience to help farmers improve upon their productivities.
Madam Margaret Holladay, who has been posted to Twifo Praso in the Central Region said she would be working in the areas of maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and improving water and sanitation.
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