VILLAGE URUGWIRO - Early next year, the United States Peace Corps will be returning to Rwanda.
This was revealed by the Director of Peace Corps, Ronald Tschetter, shortly after a meeting with President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro yesterday.
The program was interrupted by the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis.
During a visit last February, outgoing US President George W. Bush announced the reopening of the Peace Corps programme in the country.
The Peace Corps is an organisation founded by former US President John F. Kennedy whose inspiration was for US citizens to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.
“In January next year, we shall have 35 volunteers come to Rwanda to work in different communities across the country mainly in public health,” Tschetter explained in an interview.
He added that these will be the first volunteers to come but more are expected.
Currently, the Peace Corps have over 8,000 volunteers working in different countries across the world and ever since the non-profit making organisation was established in 1961, more than 190,000 Americans have worked in 139 countries across the globe.
“The major work of the corps is directed at helping in promoting a better understanding between Americans and host countries,” Tschetter explained.
He said that the volunteers will be in Rwanda for a period of between two and four years and that during this time they will help bring the face of America to the people at grassroots level where they will be assigned to work.
Subsequent to President Bush’s announcement to return the mission to Rwanda, an agreement was signed on July 18, 2008, between the Peace Corps and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to officially re-establish the Peace Corps program.
Peace Corps had an active program in Rwanda between 1974 and 1994 where a total of 114 people served as Peace Corps Volunteers.
The Minister of Health, Dr Richard Sezibera, said that this move was welcome since these volunteers will be working in upcountry communities.
“We are already enjoying good relations with the United States politically…it is better to have this kind of non-political arrangement based solely on the citizens of the two countries,” he said.
He added that during their stay in the country, the volunteers will mainly advise on community heath issues that will include nutrition.
Prior to their deployment to their designated areas, the volunteers are expected to undergo a ten-week induction programme in which they will be taught basics of the Rwandan culture, language and basic technical training.