The Acting Director of the United States of America Peace Corps Service, Dr. Judy Olsen has revealed that modalities are being put in place in the USA for the return of the Peace Corps Service to Sierra Leone by next year. This good news was disclosed by Dr. Olsen during a meeting with Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana at the USA Peace Corps Office in Washington D.C on Tuesday June 16.
Dr. Olsen recalled fond memories of the services of the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and informed the Vice President that most of the Peace Corps volunteers who served in the country in those days are eager to return and rekindle their strong attachments and love for Sierra Leone.
She asserted that they were highly honored by the visit of the Vice President and his entourage including the Minister of State Leonard Balogu Koroma to their office and as a sign of appreciation presented the Vice President with an engraved plaque to commemorate what she described as a historic visit.
Dr. Olsen said that her office will be making an official announcement of the return of the Peace Corps service to Sierra Leone shortly and that due consideration of all the issues involved has been made.
Vice President Sam Sumana thanked Dr Olsen for what he referred to as the best news so far during their visit to the USA and assured her that he will transmit the good news to the President, Government and people of Sierra Leone with immediate effect.
The Vice President assured the Acting Director of government’s commitment to facilitate the speedy return of the Peace Corps and to ensure that they carry out a smooth operation in the country.
The Peace Corps volunteer service it will be recalled was established by the late President John F Kennedy in March 1961 and since that time more than 182, 000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in more than 138 countries.
The first group of Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Sierra Leone in 1962 and made education as their main focus in the 1960s
From the late 1960s to early 1990s, the Peace Corps expanded their programmes to incorporate agriculture with special focus on resource management, rice production and wildlife preservation while the health sector was focused on health education, rural water supply and sanitation.
The operations of the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone was suspended in April 1992 as a result of a coup d’état staged by the National Provisional Ruling Council NPRC
The serving volunteers numbering 82 at the time of the coup were evacuated and in August 1992, 24 of the volunteers returned to Sierra Leone to reinstate the health and educational projects
Due to the continued instability in the country, the Peace Corps ceased operations finally in 1994.
Since then continuous efforts have been made by the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington, the government and various organizations culminating in Tuesday’s disclosure to the Vice President, in Washington