Remarks by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Uganda, Colette Marcellin
Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony for Heath and Agribusiness Trainees
Thursday, August 10, 2017
It is my pleasure to welcome everyone to this very happy occasion: the swearing-in of Peace Corps Volunteers. We’re honored to have our Chief Guest, Dr. Jane Aceng, the Honorable Minister of Health, with us, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries and members of the respective delegations, invited guests in the different capacities, Peace Corps Staff and Trainees.
About seven months ago, on January 19th, we assembled here to witness the swearing-in of 32 Peace Corps Education Volunteers, who have since joined other Peace Corps Volunteers working in Uganda. Today marks yet another milestone in the partnership between the people of the United States of America and their Ugandan counterparts in upholding and building on the more than five decades of working together under the Peace Corps banner of peace, friendship and development. This particular swearing-in will usher into service 24 Health Volunteers and 27 Agribusiness Volunteers, bringing the number of Peace Corps Volunteers in Uganda right now to 164.
The presence here of senior government officials, friends, partners, and community leaders is a testimony of the great promise that the Peace Corps concept has come to symbolize over the years. I am personally delighted to be part of this as I have always looked forward to meeting and swearing in the next cohort of Volunteers.
For the individual Volunteers, this is part of the journey that started with you going through a competitive selection process. Then you left your family and friends to embark on a long transatlantic flight that brought you to this beautiful country. We acknowledge and salute your progress thus far. Your experience during the last two months of pre-service training has been a turning point for most of you. The warm welcome and introduction to the people and culture of Uganda you have experienced is a precursor to even greater things that lie ahead. During your first two months, , you have learned a little of the local language and discovered a little of the culture culture and made a handful of friends. I’m sure for many of you there is some excitement and some anxiety as you prepare for what’s next. I believe remaining open-minded and flexible will be instrumental to your success. I cannot promise it will be easy all the time, but the experience will be life-changing.
It is impossible for me to acknowledge all supporters and partners of Peace Corps Uganda– the list is far too long. Many individuals and institutions have offered their time and resources to ensure Volunteers get a truly meaningful and exciting experience. Partners of Peace Corps Uganda have helped with visa processing, provided technical information and safety tips, welcomed Volunteers into homes and workplaces, and they continue to attend to all kinds of needs. To you all, our partners and friends, thank you for your contributions in promoting better understanding, peace and development between our nations.
The Government of Uganda has welcomed many Volunteers throughout our over fifty years of partnership. Government ministries and departments have embraced the different programs, nominated representatives on the project advisory committees, and recommended viable partners to Peace Corps. For all this and more, we are very grateful.
During the past years, Volunteers in the Agribusiness sector have engaged with their communities in initiating and implementing several projects. Under the ‘Start-up Uganda’ project for instance, they have worked emerging entrepreneurs. The food security project in Rubirizi has helped establish community demonstration gardens for fruits and vegetables. In Rakai and other places, groups have been able to mobilize substantial savings under a financial literacy program.
In the same vein, Health Sector Volunteers have worked enthusiastically with their communities in several important areas. In Kinoni and Hoima, they have made nutrition supplements using locally available foods. HIV positive individuals have since adopted this project and are using it togenerate household incomes. Thousands of individuals receivedmalaria prevention information during World Malaria Day campaigns that took place from April 1st to May 6th, 2017. Furthermore, long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets were distributed to the most vulnerable populations, including pregnant mothers, young children and HIV positive clients. !
These are just a few of the many outstanding accomplishments our Volunteers have made working with the different communities. In helping and encouraging communities to identify and find solutions to their challenges, so much potential is released that will help drive this country forward in its quest for a better quality of life for its people.
Ugandans have the well-deserved reputation of being some of the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. We know that these Volunteers are in very good hands. For the host families here today, we would like to thank you for opening your homes to these Volunteers. Please receive these Volunteers whom we will commission today in the usual Ugandan hospitality that truly makes this country the Pearl of Africa.
I would like to end by reminding each of the Trainees that you represent the best of America. Be open-minded and accommodating, don’t take yourself too seriously, and do what you say you will do.
Your family and friends back home are looking forward to hearing your stories and celebrating your successes. Every day spent away from home, every challenge overcome, and every life impacted will in turn change your life and inform your future. . If you can remember one sentence from this afternoon’s function, it is this; support each other, respect the culture of your host community, work hard, have fun, and be part of the great Peace Corps legacy. Congratulations and best wishes for a very rewarding stay in Uganda!