Peace Corps

Background Information

WHAT IS PEACE CORPS?

Peace Corps is a United States Volunteer Organization dedicated to grassroots development and economic growth in developing countries. It is also a service opportunity for U.S. citizens to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation. Peace Corps was officially created by the United States Congress in September 1961 under the leadership of President John F. Kennedy.

The Peace Corps celebrated 60 years or peace and friendship in 2021 and continues to share a unique relationship with the countries and people served. Since 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide, including 1,859 in Eswatini.

THE GOALS OF PEACE CORPS

Peace Corps provides technical assistance by sending qualified Volunteers to work on development projects requested by the host country. Peace Corps concentrates most of its efforts on rural development and adheres to a philosophy of helping people help themselves, emphasizing the transfer of skills to host country counterparts and the use of appropriate technology. During a two year tour of service, a Volunteer is assigned to work on a specific project in agriculture, environment, health, small business development, and education or community development. Current projects in Eswatini include: Youth Development, Community Health and Peace Corps Response.

Peace Corps is not a political organization. The Volunteers are placed at the grassroots level to live and work directly with the people of the countries in which they serve. They are guided by the three goals set forth by President Kennedy in 1961 to help to promote world peace and friendship:

1. Help the people of the interested countries meet their needs for qualified people:

Peace Corps relies on the host country to select projects and decide what role the Volunteers will play in the host country’s development plan. Volunteers often work in close collaboration with other development organization such as non-governmental organizations (NGO) and donors under the direction of the relevant Government Ministries. Volunteer efforts complement the development strategy of host governments.

2. Promote a better understanding of Americans on behalf of other people of the world:

Volunteers reflect the diversity of the American people and therefore enable the people of the country where the Peace Corps serve to better understand the United States and its people. For many people in the developing world, the United States is forever linked to Peace Corps volunteer who served in their village or town. The friendship formed by working and living together are lasting bonds that continue across the continents.

3. Promote a better understanding of other people in the world on behalf of the Americans:

When Volunteers return to the United States, they become unofficial host country ambassadors. They share their understanding of the countries and people they have known for two years by speaking at schools, business and social organizations. Their pictures, artifacts and stories allow thousands of Americans to expand their understanding of other cultures and places.

President Kennedy on July 4, 1963: “Peace Corps Volunteers bring home important skills and experience which greatly enhance our knowledge of the world and strengthen our role in international affairs”

PEACE CORPS IN ESWATINI

HISTORY

The first group of Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Eswatini in January 1969, a few months after its independence from Britain. During the following 28 years Peace Corps provided Swaziland with a total of 1400 Volunteers. The primary focus throughout most of this period was in secondary education (mathematics, science, English, agriculture and vocational training) and agricultural cooperatives. Due to budgetary constraints, in 1996 Peace Corps regretfully closed its program in Swaziland as it did in several other countries. In 2002, Peace Corps returned to Swaziland at the request of King Mswati III to assist in countering the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Post reopened in early 2003 and the first group of Volunteers to implement the Community Health Project began their service in November 2003.

PRESENT STATUS

September 2022 marked a resumption of a long legacy of Peace Corps in Eswatini which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when the Peace Corps evacuated 7,000 volunteers globally, including 89 from Eswatini alone. After a two year service interruption, Peace Corps Eswatini welcomed 7 American Peace Corps Volunteers and communities across Eswatini will be their homes for the next two years. The return coincides with the celebration of 19 years of community and family ties, strong partnerships and unbreakable friendship between the people of Eswatini and the United States.

For complete information on Peace Corps Eswatini, visit the Peace Corps Eswatini website: https://www.peacecorps.gov/eswatini

Telephone: 2422 0411 / 2422 0413