The United States envoy to Rwanda, Peter H. Vrooman, Tuesday, presided over the swearing-in of 69 new Peace Corps Volunteers upon the latter’s completion of 12 weeks of intensive training.
The Volunteers completed Kinyarwanda language training before deployment across the country to “support the government’s development goals.”
They will largely be based in rural communities where they will work in schools and health centres for two years, immersing themselves in the Rwandan culture, according to an embassy statement.
Speaking at the ceremony, Amb. Vrooman said that the Peace Corps add “a very special element” to the relationship between the American and Rwandan people.
“By living with host families, dedicating themselves to helping Rwandan communities, and becoming proficient in Kinyarwanda, Peace Corps Volunteers strengthen the trust and mutual understanding between our two societies,” he said.
Peace Corps returned to Rwanda in 2008 after the programme had been suspended in the wake of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed the lives of more than a million people.
The volunteers often serve between two and four years.
Peace Corps Rwanda Country director Keith Hackett, who administered the Peace Corps Pledge, said that it was “an honor and a privilege for the Volunteers to serve alongside their Rwandan colleagues in addressing the pressing development needs of Rwandan communities”.
“I want to thank the Government of Rwanda and our partners in education and health for their continued support and guidance. Turi kumwe (Kinyarwanda for ‘we are together’),” he said.
Dr Zuberi Muvunyi, Director General of Clinical and Public Health at the Ministry of Health, represented the Rwandan Government, according to the statement.
Peace Corps was created by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961, with the mission to promote world peace and friendship.
Their model to development is a roots approach, with Volunteers living and working hand-in-hand with the members of their host communities.
Since its creation in 1961, more than 235,000 Americans have served in 141 countries around the world.
Peace Corps Volunteers in Rwanda work at the invitation of the Government and over 900 volunteers have served the people of Rwanda in the health and education sectors.