New Peace Corps volunteers told their task is no ‘cake walk’

Some of the new volunteers taking the oath

Newly-inducted Peace Corps volunteers were told that being a volunteer will not be a “cake walk” and they should make use of this unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people.

Some of the new volunteers taking the oath

These sentiments were expressed by James Geenen, Country Director, Peace Corps at the swearing in of the 22nd batch of volunteers at the Theatre Guild Playhouse yesterday.

Geenen further told the volunteers that their presence is an expression of the confidence placed in them by the US government and urged them to make use of this opportunity to care, share and make the world a better place.

He said that ups and downs are to be expected but the training they received would enable them to handle any situation that comes their way.

He said it was their job to discover and unlock opportunities to help persons in the communities and thus form lifelong partnerships and friendships.

Shaik Baksh, Minister of Education, in his remarks said that the educational sector has benefited significantly from the Peace Corps programme in Guyana and he considered this new batch as a further boost to the sector.

He highlighted the need for improvement in the educational sector in hinterland communities and welcomed the timely addition of the volunteers. Baksh added that he foresees an expansion of the programme in Guyana, specifically targeted at information technology and he will be engaging  Peace Corps officials on this initiative within the week.

He told the volunteers that they have the support of his ministry and urged them to do their best in order to leave their imprints in the sands of Guyana.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy in brief remarks congratulated the volunteers for coming to Guyana and volunteering their services.  He thanked the members of Peace Corps for their viable inputs in the adolescent and wellness programme in the Ministry of Health and said that the department has played a vital role in helping children and people to improve their lives.

Charge d’Affaires, US Embassy Karen Williams acknowledged the volunteer programme as one that is strong and continuously growing.  She urged them to reach beyond their primary assignments as teachers, and be willing to share talents and adapt to their new environment.

She told them to always keep their goals in mind and focus on what it was they wanted to achieve so that they would have a sense of accomplishment when their time was over.

Charles Le, an education volunteer, will head the Department of Education in Lethem.  Le described the training received as “one intense rollercoaster ride.” He said that he did not anticipate the forming of such close friendships with fellow volunteers and staff of the Peace Corps.

He described Guyana as a country of warmth and diversity and said that he likes Lethem from his visit there.  He is anticipating his role in making a valuable contribution to the development of the

information technology sector in Lethem.   While he expects challenges, he is excited at being able to make a difference.

Megan Jennings, who will be teaching preventative health care at Suddie in Region Two, said that the training was hard work but she sees it as being vital to her success.

This new batch of 33 is expected to take up posts in the education and health sectors for the next two years in nine of Guyana’s administrative regions.
Seventeen of them will be placed in NGOs, health centres and clinics where they will focus on hygiene, life skills (youth) and chronic diseases.  The remainder will focus on education and be posted to schools, IDCE and departments of education across Guyana.

They arrived in Guyana on February 7 and had been engaged in a two-month training stint to familiarise them with Guyana and the requirements of their positions.

They will join 54 volunteers currently serving in Guyana.

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