Today United States Ambassador Matthew Harrington and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tlohang Sekhamane signed an updated Peace Corps Country Agreement, replacing the previous agreement which had governed the presence of Peace Corps in Lesotho since 1967. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps in Lesotho. Many lives, both Basotho and American, have been touched and connected through the contributions of Peace Corps Volunteers. Today’s signing affirms the importance of this partnership and enduring relationship between the peoples and the governments of Lesotho and the United States.
The Peace Corps is a United States government agency that works to build skills and capacity and foster mutual understanding and lasting cross-cultural relationships in 63 countries through the work of nearly 7,000 American volunteers and trainees worldwide. Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lasts long after their service. Volunteers’ lives are also often profoundly affected by their service abroad, by the communities in which they have worked, and by the enduring friendships they have established. The Peace Corps was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
During today’s ceremony, Ambassador Harrington said, “Over the last year and a half, I have met Basotho from all walks of life, from senior government officials to NGO directors to community activists, whose lives have been touched by a Peace Corps Volunteer, and their memories of those experiences are inevitably positive. Peace Corps Volunteers touch lives and make a real difference in the communities where they serve.”
Peace Corps Volunteers in Lesotho serve in two different programs: the Education program and the Healthy Youth program. Volunteers in the Education program serve as primary school teachers of English, and secondary school teachers of mathematics. Volunteers in the Healthy Youth program work with community-based organizations to contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS among youth, assist in care and treatment of HIV positive youth, and help prepare youth for their future.
More than 2,300 volunteers have served in Lesotho since 1967, working mostly in rural and semi–rural locations where there is the greatest need and the fewest resources. The Peace Corps is also an active participant in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and all volunteers use their community organizational skills to extend the reach of national and international efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho.
For further information please contact InfoMaseru@state.gov or call +266-2231-2666 ext. 4317.