“Peace Corps Are Great Ambassadors” Ambassador Bockari Stevens
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens (in photo) accredited to the United States of America has told 43 departing American Peace Corps bound for the west Africa Nation that their services have not only helped capacitate Sierra Leoneans, but have also helped developed the country’s educational and health infrastructure.
Addressing the Peace Corps at a farewell ceremony at Sonesta Hotel on 1800 Market Street Philadelphia, Ambassador Stevens said, you have significantly contributed towards building the capacity of both human and our nation, which is why I decided to honor you before boarding your flight for Freetown.”
Ambassador Stevens said “working with a counterpart, whether at a school or health facility, volunteers like the Peace Corps break down barriers”. Your presence brings hope. If it were in the olden days, a crowd of children will be following you – any – where you go in the villages- calling “Pumwhie” meaning white man.
He spoke on the culture of religious tolerance in Sierra Leone and historical links between the Gullahs in the USA and Sierra Leoneans: and named three honored former peace – Corps in the persons of Gary Schultz, Professor Joe Opala and Sharon Kasper Alvarado. “Alvarado served in Sierra Leone from 1964 to 1966 as an education volunteer and got to know President Koroma’s family and schoolmates. The two had not seen each other for nearly 50 years except when President Koroma came to Washington DC.
He spoke on Sierra Leone Cuisine, culture and means of transportation including the use Okada.
Ambassador Bockari Stevens quoted President Ernest Bai Koroma and said “Peace Corps is an organization for which I (President Ernest Bai Koroma) have a strong personal affinity. “The dedication and professionalism of Peace Corps volunteers in our education system made a great impact on me (President Ernest Bai Koroma) during my formative years. “Since 1962, Peace Corps volunteers have been great ambassadors to my country and I know they will continue to play a critical role as we write the next chapter in the history of my country.”
Responding, desk officer for Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea Ms. Nicole Williams thanked Ambassador Stevens for taking his time to address the delegation and described the time spent as invaluable.
The peace – corps thanked Ambassador Stevens with a long round of applause.
Forty three (43) American volunteers who have agreed to serve in the Sierra Leonean educational sector under the banner of “peace corps volunteers” have today Tuesday June 17, 2013 departed the Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania United States of America (USA) for the West African states for a period of two years.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer program, initiated in 1960 by late President John F. Kennedy and is run by the United States government, with a mission to provide technical assistance to people outside the United States bent on understanding American culture; and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries.
According to a news release from Peace Corps, the first three months of their service in Sierra Leone will see them completing technical, language, health and safety training.
It is expected that they will work on sustainable, community-driven development projects that will make a lot of difference for the people of the West African nation and themselves.
More than 3,615 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Sierra Leone since the program was established in 1962.
Currently, 91 volunteers serve in Sierra Leone. Volunteers train and work in the following languages: Krio, Mende, Temne, Mandinka, SuSu, Limba and Kuranko.
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