By Frederick Philander
“This is the first time that I am presiding over a swearing-in ceremony in Namibia, and I feel a tremendous sense of pride, both as an ambassador and as an American.”
So said the new Ambassador to Namibia, Dennise Mathieu, last week when she officially welcomed 69 volunteers, who will primarily assist in the education and health sectors of the country.
“These Peace Corps volunteers are the very best that the American people have to offer. Since the first days of independence in 1990, the United States and the Government of Namibia have been working together. We are, and should be, proud of what we have achieved during the last 18 years,” she said.
More than 800 Peace Corps volunteers have served here since 1990, working closely with their Namibian counterparts in education, health, community development and small business development.
“Since 2004, Peace Corps volunteers have also played a major role in the US Government’s combined effort to support Namibia in its struggle against HIV/AIDS. Peace Corps volunteers do make a difference. Their contributions are tangible – such as higher pass rates at schools where volunteers teach and improved operational capacity at ministries and organizations where volunteers work,” the ambassador said.
With regard to the AIDS pandemic she had the following to say:
“Members of girls and boys school clubs supported by volunteers are learning how to protect themselves from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, while many Namibian family members infected and affected by HIV/AIDS are of the opinion that these volunteers have helped them to live more productive lives.”
According to her, the Peace Corps operation in Namibia continues to be a vibrant and dynamic programme.
“Currently, we have almost 130 Peace Corps volunteers, and after many years, we have moved back into the Caprivi Region. We are now serving all 13 regions of the country.
“I have no doubt that Group 27 will add a new chapter to the continuing story of the Peace Corps’ strong commitment to the Namibian people. Namibia is a wonderful yet challenging country – the Namibians a gracious people. The demands are high, but so are the rewards,” she concluded.