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Peace Corps told contribute to process of change, development

Peace Corps told contribute to process of change, development


Seven new Peace Corps volunteers were sworn in on Wednesday, April 11.{{more}}

Wednesday’s ceremony marked the culmination of a ten week period of training and now the seven volunteers will take up posts in various locations throughout the country, conducting a number of different tasks.

Kevin Carley, Country Director Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean in his presentation referred to the organization’s six word mission statement which states ‘To promote World Peace and Friendship’, and how important that it was to the United States today.

“The perception of the United States today is so skewed,” Carley said, adding that the promotion of friendship aspect of the mission was very important.

He continued saying that in 1961, when the President John Kennedy came up with the idea of the Peace Corps, only about 10 per cent of Americans had passports.

So the idea was to get the US to get its most valuable resource, its people, to get out so when they take up positions of leadership in the future, they will be able to take this love and knowledge they have of the part of the world they served, with them.

Carlos James, local Barrister at Law, featured speaker at the ceremony, spoke on the subject of youth empowerment and challenges among disadvantaged communities.

“Many of you coming here to St Vincent from various social and educational backgrounds to continue a very longstanding and important programme started here some years ago by the United States Peace Corps and the government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines…as much as you are here to offer a selfless and voluntary service, as history would prove, you in turn leave this country with a wealth of experience and a different outlook on life,” James said.

He continued, saying that the newly sworn in volunteers would be placed among various schools across the island while others will be assigned to Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), dealing primarily with young people.

There are a number of challenges, some of which affect directly or indirectly affect young people with some being a complex combination of social and economic determinants.

“Even further to these issues is the marginalization of rural communities within our Vincentian context,” he continued.

“For a variety of factors, the populations of these deprived communities are not afforded the same opportunities as people living in more well-to-do urban areas,” James said.

Amidst some of the problems which affect some of the areas across the country, the government has been making strides in addressing some of these problems, he said.

“But while the government has made much effort within recent years to curb the levels of poverty and indigence, and reduce illiteracy and unemployment, we are still a long way from addressing some of these issues, particularly in our rural communities,” James said.

He told the new volunteers that they were the ones going into the various communities where they will see the problems of the young people first hand.

“Your role is to contribute towards the process of change and assist in our continued effort towards development,” he explained.

James spoke of his own interaction with the Peace Corps and how that interaction had helped him to achieve his goals.

“I urge you to take your role as volunteers in this project seriously. Your induction training a few weeks ago would have given you a snap shot of the realities of Vincentian life, I implore you to use that to your advantage in making a worthwhile contribution to youth development here in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said. (DD)