Remarks for Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony

Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Mahoney

Wednesday, August 6, 2:00pm – 4:30 p.m.

Chief of Mission Residence, Kampala, Uganda

Good afternoon. I am delighted to welcome you all for the swearing-in of new Peace Corps Volunteers.  Today we welcome 51 Volunteers, 38 of whom who will serve for two years in Uganda’s health and agriculture sectors and 13 Response Volunteers who will each serve for one year at medical and nursing institutions.

To me and our fellow Americans, the Peace Corps represents our highest ideals of volunteerism and service, and it is with deep respect and appreciation that I represent the U.S. Mission today. I also feel particularly close to this ceremony as many years ago, I, too, was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  I served in Thailand.  [Short story about your service in Thailand and/or how it has impacted your life.]

I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Jacinto Amandua (jah-SIN-toh ah-man-DU-a), Commissioner of Clinical Services, for representing the Ministry of Health at today’s ceremony and for receiving our new Peace Corps Volunteers on behalf of the Government of Uganda.  We appreciate the strong support and collaboration we receive from partners across Uganda as we work together to build the peaceful, prosperous, healthy, democratic Uganda that we all envision.

Fourteen of our soon-to-be Volunteers will be working in agriculture, a sector that employs over 80% of the Ugandan workforce. Despite the great strides Uganda has made in recent years, food security is not assured in this country. The consequences of food insecurity and consequent poor nutrition include anemia in 50% of Ugandan children, 33% prevalence of stunting among children, and increased prevalence of morbidity preventable through better nutrition. Volunteers with the agribusiness project will work hand-in-hand with Ugandan farmers and agribusiness owners to help increase profitability through efficient planning and management.

Twenty-four Volunteers will work in community health, supporting Ugandan organizations in the areas of HIV prevention, malaria control, and maternal child health.  Their work is especially important as we have seen the incidence of HIV increase in Uganda and know that malaria affects large numbers of Ugandans as well.

Thirteen Volunteers will serve as Peace Corps Response Volunteers, forming part of the Global Health Service Partnership. Through this innovative public-private partnership, we have a remarkable group of Volunteers made up of physicians and nurses from the United States.  They are specialists in orthopedic surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, family practice, intensive care, emergency medicine, community health and mental health. Five of them are former Peace Corps Volunteers and have served in other countries. Two of the Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers are accompanied by their spouses who bring additional expertise that will greatly benefit our Ugandan partners.

The Global Health Service Volunteers, as a second cohort in this program, will build on the first year of achievement. One of last year’s Volunteers, Kelly Lippi, a nurse, worked at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Southwest Uganda.  She taught in the Bachelors of Nursing program. Of her 150 students, only one had chosen nursing as their profession.  Most students wanted to go into medicine, veterinary medicine, or pharmacy.  Nursing was a last choice, but only because none of these nurses knew what being a nurse could be. Kelly was determined to show them the rewards of this type of work. Every day, she shared stories of how nurses changed lives and made a difference.  At the end of her year, she asked for evaluations.  One student wrote, “You have made me feel that I have chosen the best profession in the world.” Kelly’s work really made an impact, and so will all of yours.

We look forward to hearing more stories of commitment, energy, and positive change over these next years from you, our soon-to-be Volunteers. Your service will make a difference beyond what you can even imagine.  Remember that when things get tough.  This is not easy work you will be doing.  But it is important, and if you put your heart and soul into it, you will both create change and be changed.

I would like to thank the Peace Corps staff, our host organization partners, and colleagues from U.S. Mission Uganda for attending today’s ceremony.  I would also like to thank all our Ugandan counterparts and communities for their hospitality and collaboration to build capacity, seek solutions to development challenges, and their help to make our Volunteers’ time in Uganda as productive and enjoyable as possible.

To our new Volunteers, I say: Let this experience change your life, inform your future, and leave you a little more open, honest, resilient, and understanding.  Good luck, work hard, have fun, and leave your mark in the best way possible.

Thank you and congratulations!