opinionBy Augustus D. R. Bortue
For me, I am greatly contented to pay tribute to the American Government and People for their continued contributions to the growth and development of Liberia, particularly in the education sector. Before the advent of the Liberian political brouhaha-civil crisis, which claimed the lives of about 250,000 people, the American Government contributed immensely to the development of our country.
Expressly, I want to mention the Peace Corps' role in our education sector. Indisputably, the works of the Peace Corps positively impacted countless numbers of lives in Liberia, including myself. The operations of the Peace Corps, regrettably, were suspended in 1990 due to our civil crisis. However, the operations resumed in 2007. Since their return, the Peace Corps have been impacting knowledge into Liberians.
Interestingly, the program received a big boost last Thursday, January 31, 2013 when an additional eight Peace Corps Response Volunteers were sworn in at a colorful ceremony held at the United Embassy in Monrovia. The new Peace Corps Response Volunteers are to take up assignment at high schools in River Cess, River Gee, Grand Kru, Maryland and Sinoe Counties. These are the first volunteers back in those counties since the program was suspended in 1990. This is good news that must be welcomed by every well meaning Liberians.
The arrival of the new volunteers, I believe, would not have come no better time than now when our country is desperately in need of trained teachers and other professionals to help build the capacity of our people, particularly the youths, which our society largely depends on for its renewal.
Accordingly, in a brief remarks at the swearing in ceremony, U.S. Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Madam Deborah R. Malac, said: "The arrival of this incoming group of Peace Corps Response Volunteers represents a significant milestone for us. These volunteers will be leading the way for Peace Corps' return to the Southeast counties where we have been absent since 1990."
Hear Amb. Malac: "Your arrival in River Cess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland and River Gee Counties is the culmination of a determined and dedicated effort to reestablish the Peace Corps here in Liberia. I am a great fan of the Peace Corps and am delighted that they are a part of the U.S. presence in Liberia." Speaking further, the US envoy described the Peace Corps as one of the best and most effective ways to demonstrate the United States' valued, and shared commitment to peace, friendship and progress in Liberia.
"I am especially proud of Peace Corps Liberia's role in the education sector, providing critical math and science education to the next generation of Liberians. I also want to thank Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and her government for their very strong support of Peace Corps since its return to Liberia," the seasoned American diplomat among other things added.
For his part, Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, who graced the swearing in ceremony along with Education Minister Etimoniah David-Tarpeh, also lauded the Government and People of the United States of America for their tireless efforts in supporting the education sector of Liberia. Vice President further acknowledged the pivotal role the Peace Corps had and continue to play in the development agenda of Liberia.
He said the Government of Liberia (GoL) doors remain opened to supporting the good initiatives of the Peace Corps program in the country. Frankly, the Ellen Johnson-led Government must be credited for creating the enabling environment and providing strong support which led to the resumption of this human driven initiative in our country.
Had the enabling environment not created, the resumption of the Peace Corps would have been unworkable. In this vein, I encourage the Government of Liberia(GOL) to continue to support this great program which is very crucial to the rejuvenation of our beloved country, following 14 years of armed conflict. On the other hand, I also encourage all of our compatriots to embrace the Peace Corps, let us make them feel as though they are in their own country.
I enthusiastically welcome the new group of volunteers - I hearten them to carry out their assigned task diligently and in the interest of both countries(Liberia and America). I wish you a successful stay in our beloved country.