Thirty-two Americans will soon take their posts helping with aid programs in the Rwanda countryside, as the U.S. Peace Corps staffs up there for the first time since the genocide that devastated the country 15 years ago. The recent swearing-in of the new volunteers is part of a strong U.S. commitment to Rwanda in its economic and social rebuilding.
More than 100 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the central African nation since the program was established in 1975. The U.S. withdrew during the political instability that tore Rwanda apart in 1994 and was invited back last year by President Paul Kagame.
After intensive pre-assignment training, including lessons in the Kinyarwanda language, the volunteers will serve for 2 years and work at the community level in areas of education, health and development. Some will collaborate with other U.S. government initiatives in the country, such as the anti-AIDS PEPFAR program.
As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its mission to promote peace and international friendship remains firm. The appeal of its legacy of service also remains strong among young Americans. The number of applications to join increased 16 percent in the last year, the largest boost in the last 5 years. Historically, over 195,000 volunteers have served, promoting a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 nations in which they have worked, including Rwanda.