Peace Corps Plans to Resume Sending Volunteers Overseas | Health info

By LISA RATHKE, Associated Press

The Peace Corps will resume sending volunteers overseas in mid-March after evacuating them from posts around the world two years ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government program announced Thursday.

An initial group of new volunteers and those who were evacuated in March 2020 as the coronavirus began to spread across the world will travel to Zambia and the Dominican Republic this month, according to a Peace Corps statement.

The Peace Corps plans to return volunteers to their posts throughout the year, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases and the host nation’s hospital capacity and the Peace Corps’ ability to transport volunteers to locations. emergency medical evacuation centers. It is currently recruiting for 24 positions.

“Over the past two years, our main goal has been to return volunteers to over 60 countries who are eagerly awaiting their return. And, we have weathered the waves and variations of the COVID-19 situation in every position and redesigned Peace Corps systems, policies and procedures to align them with today’s reality, said Carol Spahn, CEO of the Peace Corps.

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Besides their primary work on local issues, the volunteers will be involved in the COVID-19 response and recovery, the Peace Corps said.

In Zambia, volunteers will coordinate with local leaders and partner ministries to provide education on COVID-19 and promote access to vaccinations for communities, officials said. In the Dominican Republic, the focus will be on helping communities overcome issues exacerbated by the pandemic, such as rising school dropout rates, literacy skills and preparing young adults for work.

“I was absolutely thrilled. It’s been a dream of mine since I graduated high school,” said Campbell Martin, 23, of Sonoma, Calif., who applied last summer after graduating. from UCLA and is expected to begin serving in June as a primary teacher/trainer in The Gambia. He still needs medical and legal clearance.

“I want a career in the foreign service and I knew that Peace Corps was a wonderful step, not only to serve as a citizen of the world, but also Peace Corps – its mission, its intention – is something in which I believe very much. “, did he declare. “As COVID shut down the world, I also knew these opportunities would shut down for me until things started to reopen. Now that things have started, I’m just ecstatic about it.

The Peace Corps celebrates its 61st anniversary this week. Two years ago, it had 7,000 volunteers in 62 countries when they were evacuated and sent back to the United States.

Since those evacuations, the Peace Corps has called for volunteers to help with the national COVID-19 response and has developed a virtual service pilot program. Not before March 2020, the organization founded by President John F. Kennedy had to evacuate all of its volunteers at once.

More than 240,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in numerous countries since the program’s inception in 1961. The goal is to help countries meet their development needs through a variety of programs – from the education in health and agriculture programs – while helping to promote a better understanding of Americans. Typical service lasts two years after a period of training.

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