4 December 2005

South Africa: Senior US Envoy to Visit Rustenburg VCT Programme

The chargé d'affaires of the US embassy in South Africa, Don Teitelbaum, will participate in a Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) event with LifeLine North West tomorrow.

This will take place in Rustenburg, where Mr Teitelbaum will be accompanied by Lisa Ellis, who is the country director for the Peace Corps.

An American Peace Corps volunteer, known as Bion, is based at the LifeLine Centre in Rustenburg as part of a cadre of Peace Corps volunteers working in the community health sector.

This LifeLine event will include the VCT of Mr Teitelbaum himself, as part of an overall presentation on LifeLine's VCT and related programmes.

LifeLine fields a dynamic Marketing Action Team of young volunteers who work with schools, community organisations and other groups to share information about HIV and AIDS and encourage broad participation in VCT, says Tebogo Sepeng of the communication department at the US Consulate General.

To support this activity, they [the Marketing Action Team] have received a grant of R36 000 from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), administered through the US Peace Corps and its volunteers.

Peace Corps South Africa focuses on supporting primary school education and NGOs (the NGO Project) working in the field of HIV and AIDS.

There are currently 140 volunteers in South Africa, 39 of whom are assigned to the NGO Project; nine of these are in the North West Province.

These NGO Project volunteers work to support the development of organisational capacity so that local NGOs are better able to implement, on a sustainable basis, the administrative, management and programme development practices necessary to expand their abilities to meet the needs of the local communities that they serve, says Ms Sepeng.

The United States Peace Corps was established in 1961 by then president John F Kennedy.

The Peace Corps aims to develop human capacity in developing countries at the request of host country governments and to foster greater understanding among Americans about the people of the world and also to foster greater understanding of the US and Americans among host country citizens.

The Peace Corps sends US citizens to volunteer in a range of development programmes for a period of two years.

Currently, the Peace Corps is active in over 70 countries.

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