The New Times (Kigali)

19 July 2012

Rwanda: Peace Corps to Boost Community Health

Claire Brosnihan, 23, was, yesterday, among the 21 Volunteer Peace Corps who publicly made a pledge to help improve the health of Rwandan communities they were deployed in.

For Brosnihan, she was getting ready to head to Rusizi District where she would work as a community health worker.

She looks forward to the challenge of teaching the community about malaria prevention and control, prevention of HIV and improving nutrition and hygiene.

Prior to her arrival in the country, she strongly harboured the long held myth that she would come across lions and leopards roaming in the streets of Rwanda. And of course the 1994 Genocide is one of the few things she knew about the country as she had studied a bit about it.

However, she is very impressed and admits that the country is a beautiful country with people who are receptive and have a strong sense of community.

"I want to make a big difference during my two years' stay here. I hope to see positive effects in community health among people living in the rural parts of this beautiful country," Brosnihan adds.

She is among twenty one more Peace Corps Volunteers sworn in yesterday promising to devotedly serve rural Rwandan communities in order to improve their health status.

The Community Health Volunteers will depart to rural health clinics, where they are expected to develop the capacity of rural health outreach workers at the village level.

They will be based in 11 districts in the Eastern, Western and Northern provinces, where they will collaborate closely with local community health workers.

The Peace Corps Country Director, Stephen K Miller, said that over 300 Peace Corps have worked in the country in different fields including education, agriculture, environment and health, among others.

"Currently, there are 133 Peace Corps Volunteers working in the City of Kigali and the four provinces. This is the fourth group coming in as health volunteers from Peace Corps who will be working here to improve maternal health and child health, behavioural change, family planning nutrition, prevention and medication of HIV and STD's," Miller said.

He noted that rural health is a key element in their work hence the focus on rural areas, working with youth camps and working outside health centres as well.

The U.S Ambassador to Rwanda, David W. Koran, called on the volunteers to be good ambassadors for their country and explained to them about Rwanda.

He urged them to effect positive change in the communities where they would serve.

This is the seventh Peace Corps Volunteers group to serve in Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Other Peace Corps Volunteers work in the education sector, mostly as teachers.

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