By Shout-Africa.com Gambia Correspondent – The United States Ambassador to The Gambia, Pamela Ann White, Friday presided over the swearing in of 30 American Peace Corps volunteers at a ceremony held at her residence in Fajara.
The volunteers, all of whom took an oath administered by Ambassador White, will serve a two-year assignment. Out of the total number, 19 will work in the health sector, while the remaining 11 will work in the environment and agriculture sectors.
In her remarks, Ambassador White urged the US Peace Corps to live up to expectations and achieve the aim of their mission to The Gambia, assuring them that the embassy will help them in their work.
Herself a former Peace Corp volunteer, Ambassador White reminded them that the Peace Corp was created to promote world peace and friendship by helping the people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women, and help promote better understanding of Americans to the people they serve, among others.
In his keynote address on behalf of the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, the Forestry and Environment Minister Jatto Sillah stated that good health and environment are essential for improvement in the quality of life.
“In The Gambia, morbidity and mortality rates are unacceptably high, with the majority of health problems related to low awareness about health issues and poor environmental conditions. Infants, children and women continue to bear the brunt of malaria, diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, malnutrition, and problems associated with pregnancy and child-birth,” he added.
According to him, the Ministry of Health is implementing a comprehensive essential health care package that integrates the management of childhood illnesses and promote reproductive and child health, including vigorous campaigns against malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, provision of sexual and reproductive health services, promotion of exclusive breast-feeding and improved nutrition, as well as immunization against serious childhood diseases.
The country director of Peace Corps Banjul Office, Jeffrey Cornish, commended the Gambia government for its continued support to the Peace Corps volunteers, and the valuable work the volunteers do in The Gambia.
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps by our dynamic President John F. Kennedy. We have served 44 of those years in The Gambia, and that in itself is an impressive achievement, an achievement possible only with the support of the Gambia government,” Cornish remarked.
According to him, the role of Peace Corps volunteers in the development of The Gambia is to help Gambians improved their lives in a way that they themselves determine to be important, and in ways they themselves can sustain.
Meanwhile, the US Peace Corp currently has a total of 103 volunteers serving in the heath, environment/agriculture and education sectors in communities throughout The Gambia.