Maputo — 68 volunteers of the US Peace Corps took their oath of duty in Maputo on Tuesday.
This brings to 167 the number of Peace Corps volunteers working in Mozambique. All of them are of US nationality, and have spent three months learning Portuguese in the town of Namaacha, on the border with Swaziland.
They will be employed as teachers.
Speaking at the Tuesday ceremony, US ambassador Douglas Griffiths said that the Peace Corps only sends volunteers in answer to requests by host governments, and in response to needs identified by the beneficiary country.
“Apart from assisting the communities where they are placed, the Peace Corps volunteers help promote a better understanding about Americans in Mozambique and, when they return to the United States, a better understanding of Mozambique in America”, he said.
For his part, the Maputo director of the Peace Corps, Carl Swatz, said that the volunteers are working alongside their Mozambican partners, in schools and in the Ministry of Education.
The volunteers, he added, come from different parts of the United States, and have different personalities, but they should all share the same vision of work. They will teach biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, information technology and English.
The representative of the volunteers, Richard Durham, said that by taking the oath they have now become Peace Corps volunteers, and future teachers of Mozambique. “We are pleased because this is a special day that marks the end of our training and the start of our tasks as volunteers”.
“When we first arrived in Namaacha to start our training, we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t speak Portuguese”, he said. “But despite these difficulties, today we are completing our technical, linguistic and cultural training”.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer programme run by the US government, established by an executive order of President J.F. Kennedy in 1961, and authorised by Congress a few months later. The Act passed by Congress establishing the programme states that its purpose is “to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower”.
The Peace Corps has been active in Mozambique since1998. Since that date, more than 800 American volunteers have worked in Mozambique, and this is now the fourth largest Peace Corps programme in Africa.