The United States Embassy in Accra on Thursday sworn-in 21 Peace Corps health volunteers, to be dispatched to serve in various parts of the Ghana under the health sector.
By their swearing-in, the 21 volunteers join more than 5,000 other Americans who had served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana over the past 57 years in the area of education, health, environment, small enterprise development and agriculture sectors in all ten regions.
Ms Melinda Tabler-Stone, the Charge D’ Affaires of the US Embassy, who sworn the Volunteers in, said peace Corps have over the years risen to respond and meet the changing needs of people in various communities and countries.
Ms Tabler-Stone, who herself was once a Volunteer, said “I see the extraordinary impact of all our development programmes every day. We change and save lives through agriculture; education and health, water and sanitation programmes.
“Our exchange programmes give young leaders the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in the United States, so they can return to craft solutions that are appropriate. Local context-solutions developed by Africans for Africans. We follow the principle of helping people gain the means and expertise to help themselves. Peace Corps is at the front-line of that work”.
Ms Tabler-Stone indicated that the promise of a Ghana beyond Aid could also succeed when the population was healthy, with the children going to schools and growing into healthy, educated adults who could contribute to Ghana’s success.
Mrs Carla Ellis, Country Director for Peace Corps Ghana, said the current volunteers have been in Ghana since January this year to undergo training in language and culture; safety and security; health related topics, water and sanitation and medicine.
She described the group “as the best that the United States has to offer. They came from states- coast to coast, from New York to California. They hold degrees in health, human sciences and biology”, among others.
She said what the volunteers have in common was their commitments to serve, saying, their services would strengthen the long and successful partnerships between Ghana and the USA.
Ms Ellis thanked the two governments for their continued support to the volunteers over the years, and also urged the communities to keep faith with the volunteers for a successful volunteer service.
“They learned the various laws, rules, and policies of Ghana and Peace Corps as a whole,” Mrs Gifty Abagre Training Manager said.
Ms Tina Mensah, Deputy Minister of Health, who witnessed the ceremony, commended the volunteers for accepting to serve in the rural and under-resourced communities, and urged them to become good role models and change agents as well as good ambassadors of the USA.
Peace Corps Volunteers are often requested by the communities themselves through the US Peace Corps Office in Ghana, who then train and dispatch the volunteers to the communities to assist the people in identifying their needs.
The volunteers then assist the community in sourcing for small grants from the US or international non-governmental organisations to provide such needs as in building schools, clinics or sanitation facilities, or any facility that fall within their services.
The current group of volunteers would work in areas such as nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene, malaria prevention and HIV and AIDS, among others.
Peace Corps services started in Ghana around 1961 when Ghana’s First President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah embarked on the “Accelerated Development Plan on Education in the country”.
The USA, on the other hand, started Peace Corps activities when President John F. Kennedy, in 1961, established and hosted the first group of 52 volunteers in the White House Rose Garden before they departed for Ghana and Tanganyika, now Tanzania.
President Kennedy before dispatching the first group of Volunteers was quoted as saying that: “There are… a great many…people scattered throughout the world.
“You will come in contact with only but a few, great impression of what kind of country we have, and what kind of people we are, will depend on their judgement of you.
“…if you can impress them with your commitment to freedom, to the advancement of the interests of people everywhere, to your pride in your country and its best traditions and what it stands for, the influence will go far beyond the immediate day-to-day task that you may do in the months that are ahead”.