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Peace Corps return to Sierra Leone

By Mustapha Sesay

Ten US Peace Corps Volunteers have arrived in Sierra Leone on Wednesday, marking the return of the US volunteers into the country.

The US Peace Corps mission was scared away by the Ebola outbreak and it temporarily suspended the programme.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday by the Chargé d'Affaires office of the U.S. Mission in Freetown, Laurie Meininger welcomed the ten Peace Corps Volunteers to the country.

The volunteers are expected to go into their individual communities where they would be posted and serve in various fields in the educational sector, "as literacy, science, technology, engineering and math secondary school teachers and Teacher Trainers, after an official swearing-in ceremony at the Peace Corps office in Freetown.

"Peace Corps represent some of the best ideals of America - service above self, the importance of education and fostering mutual understanding between people," Ms Meininger said in the statement. "The United States is proud to renew our partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone with the reopening of Peace Corps," she added.

Meininger said the return of the Peace Corps volunteers to the country signified the long tradition of Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Sierra Leone.

The U.S. Peace Corps program in Sierra Leone opened in 1962, and then halted during the 11-year civil war.  In 2010, the program returned by the invitation of the Government of Sierra Leone, and then in July, 2014, Peace Corps announced the evacuation of its 130 Volunteers due to safety concerns during the Ebola outbreak.

Some of these Volunteers are part of a group of short-term professionals who have either previously served in Sierra Leone or in other African countries.

The US embassy statement said in August this year the next group of volunteers will arrive to take on their two-year assignments.

The US Peace Corps is an independent, US government agency which was launched by then Senator John F. Kennedy for Americans to serve their country by deepening cross-cultural understanding between the US and the host country.

Since 1961, more than 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

(C) Politico 24/03/16