Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: U.S. Peace Corps and the Spirit of Volunteering

US President John F. Kennedy was a true friend of the world. He coined an international mission that was able to transform many lives in the world. He was a visionary leader who wanted to see that development is exported to other countries.

He was not mean in all the senses of the world. But those who enjoy his legacy today are not probably aware of such a noble course that Kennedy influenced the foreign policy of the American people. Today among our people live young men and women from the US who are ready to sacrifice for the people of this country. Founded in 1961 by President Kennedy, the Peace Corps is a U.S.

Government agency that supports over 8,000 volunteers in more than 75 countries. For 51 years, the Peace Corps has maintained apolitical and non-sectarian ideals of technical and cultural exchange. More than 220,000 volunteers have served in 138 countries. Peace Corps promotes world peace and friendship by fulfilling three fundamental goals: Providing American volunteers who contribute to the social and economic development of interested countries; Promoting a better understanding of Americans among the people who volunteers serve; and Strengthening Americans' understanding of the world and its peoples.

In many parts of Tanzania if one happens to visit some remote areas, it is amazing how these young volunteers are adjusting to very difficult conditions that are facing our rural communities. For many of those who claim to be patriots it is often lip service that they can extend to the communities.

The contrast between the volunteers who work under the Peace Corps and our own officials is very clear to the beneficiaries of such US programmes in rural communities. It is important for our people to learn the spirit of sacrifice. The beneficiaries of peace corps can touch, feel and benefit from the generosity and commitment of such volunteers who are determined than ever to change their lives.

You can just mention, they are almost serving in all sectors. But something that is still very live in our memories is that excellent job that the volunteers had carried out in our education system. Today nearly all the senior officials in the government had been the product of the volunteer services that were offered in government schools.

During a ceremony held at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam on December 12, US Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt swore in 39 Peace Corps volunteers to their two years of service to Tanzania. The volunteers will be stationed in 17 districts, including Lushoto, Singida Rural, Ludewa, Njombe, Mbeya Rural, Kondoa, Mpwapwa, Kiteto, Bahi, Hanang, Mbinga, Songea Rural, Songea Urban, Newala, Masasi, Mufindi, Iringa Town, Makambako and Same.

The event was attended by Acting Permanent Secretary, Alphayo Kidata, from the Prime Minister's Office Regional Administration and Local Government, Tanzania Peace Corps Country Director Dr. Marion Elizabeth O'Malley, former Peace Corps Volunteers from around the world, and officials from partner organizations. As a country Tanzania is proud to join Ambassador Lenhardt in lauding Peace Corps Volunteers who are serving in the country.

The ambassador noted that: "these trainees are among the very best the United States of America has to offer in terms of commitment, intellect, and energy. I have been inspired during my travels throughout Tanzania each time I meet Peace Corps volunteers, and seeing firsthand their service to so many communities.

Volunteers are American envoys of goodwill and friendship... They serve as emissaries whose very presence in villages promotes education in English, science, and math. The Peace Corps demonstrates the United States' priority to serve the people of Tanzania." In his remarks, Acting Permanent Secretary Kidata thanked the American people for their support through the Peace Corps volunteers, and noted the impact they have made towards promoting development in Tanzania in partnership with Tanzanians from all regions.

More than 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Tanzania since 1962, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. The Peace Corps provides trained American volunteers who work with communities in the fields of secondary education (math, science, and information and communications technology), health promotion, and environmental education.

The volunteers offer assistance and training on environmental education, including land degradation, preserving water catchments, soil conservation and implementation of agro-forestry techniques and emphasize partnership with women and youth. In addition, they offer biointensive gardens to promote household food security as well as a variety of income generating activities.

The volunteers also help strengthen public health by working with, youth, health service providers and community groups to promote healthy behaviors, including HIV/ AIDS prevention, and care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children. The volunteers work closely with village health committees to analyze community needs and priorities and promote behavior change in areas of maternal and child health, nutrition, malaria, waterborne diseases, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV/ AIDS prevention.

The elites in the country should think now in terms of educating their families on the spirit of volunteering. Such spirit is embedded in the sacrifices that one is ready to make in life for others. After all these years of seeing volunteers in the country how much impact it has had with our lives?

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