Peace Corps to start sending volunteers overseas again

Cameron Beach, teaches children in Dedza, near Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday, July 23, 2021. Beach, a former Peace Corps volunteer, is living in rural Malawi teaching English at a rural high school where she had been sent by the United States government 18-months before COVID-19 began sweeping the world.

Cameron Beach, teaches children in Dedza, near Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday, July 23, 2021. Beach, a former Peace Corps volunteer, is living in rural Malawi teaching English at a rural high school where she had been sent by the United States government 18-months before

The Peace Corps will start sending volunteers overseas again in mid-March after it evacuated them from posts around the world two years ago because of 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 globe will go 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, based on the number of COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity in the host country and the Peace Corps’ ability to transport volunteers to medical evacuation centers if there’s an emergency. It is currently recruiting for 24 posts.

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

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

The Peace Corps marks 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.

“Over the past two years, our primary goal has been to return volunteers to the more than 60 countries that are enthusiastically awaiting their return. And, we have weathered the waves and variants of the COVID-19 situation at each post and reengineered Peace Corps systems, policies and procedures to align with today’s reality,” Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn said.

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

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

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  • Thank you, John, for posting this announcement. There have been so many rumors about when or if and it is good to see Peace Corps be specific. God’s Speed to the Volunteers going to the DR and Zambia.

  • Amazing. Big respect for both posts being the first. An especially grateful shout-out to my post as a PCV, the DR. CD Jennifer McGowan will make sure everything is in place and ready to go. Wishing for grace and efficacy for their start-ups.

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