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Peace Corps committed to improving lives in The Gambia

Sep 6, 2010, 2:00 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Jeffrey Cornish Peace Corps Country Director to The Gambia has stated that the role of Peace Corps volunteers is to help improve the life of Gambians in a sustainable way.

He was speaking on Friday during the swearing in ceremony for 25 Peace Corps volunteers held at the US Ambassador's residence in Fajara.

He said Peace Corps' mission in The Gambia is to help train corps of American volunteers working in partnership with Gambians to enhance individual skills, foster cross-cultural understanding, and promote lasting peace.

However, he told the newly-sworn volunteers that "this idea of supporting self-determination and self sustaining practices is fundamental to the Peace Corps approach to assistance."

He reaffirmed the Peace Corps resolve in helping to improve the lives of Gambians.

Also addressing the volunteers, Cindy Cregg Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Banjul said "your work will contribute directly to the economic sustainability, education and the future of The Gambia."

The acting head of the US mission in The Gambia urged the volunteers to remember three things: absorb the new culture, live within it, but never forget who you are, your culture, your beliefs, your principles are what brought you here and what will take you home. Stay true to yourself, don't lose yourself," she advised.

She also told them to be open to new ideas and to the road they are taking. "Be open to how things will play out. You may not understand right now why you were assigned to a certain village in West Africa, when you planned on being in Central America. This is definitely not Guatemala, but you are here for a reason and time will make it more clear to you," declared the charge d'affairs.

In her keynotes address, the Honourable Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Fatou Lamin Faye, recalled that the United States Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President F. Kennedy with the purpose of promoting world peace, understanding and friendship, anchored in the following principles:

"Helping people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women and helping to promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people they serve."

The Education Minister commended the US Government for the support that has so far torched the lives of many Gambians.

She acknowledged with many thanks the indelible impact registered by the Peace Corp through the meaningful partnership with the ministries of health, education, agriculture and environment.

In the education sector, the Minister told volunteers that in the past they had worked in the areas of curriculum research and development, technical and vocational education and training, adult and non formal education, as well as in the development of teaching and learning materials.

Meanwhile, 15 of the volunteers are to serve regular two-year assignments while the nine are to serve in short term, high impact assessment as Peace Corp response volunteers.

The swearing ceremony marked the completion of 10 weeks of pre-service training (PST) that strives to prepare the volunteers learn for life and service in their respective communities.

During the training, the volunteers learned to communicate in local languages, and they gained a deeper understanding of the rich patterns that make up the Gambian culture, and learned to take responsibility for their health, safety and security while in country.