For over 50 years, more than 200,000 Peace Corps Volunteers in 139 countries have worked to make communities around the world healthier and stronger. Volunteers work on projects ranging from sanitation, to malaria, maternal health, and HIV prevention—often impacting an entire community, village, or school at a time.
Today, a major area of Volunteer service is the health sector, which is second only to Peace Corps’ work in education. With the Peace Corps serving as an implementing partner of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a growing number of Volunteers conduct activities in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and support. Last year alone, 52 percent of all Peace Corps Volunteers engaged in such work in communities overseas. In 2013, through the Global Health Service Partnership, we look forward to placing doctors and nurses as adjunct faculty in training institutions in Africa.
As so many of us know, HIV/AIDS has no borders or boundaries. It can affect communities at every level of our global family. For the Peace Corps, we know that the epidemic has an impact beyond just our work in health.
That is why Volunteers working in other areas like agriculture, business development, environment, and youth development also contribute to our global response to the epidemic. Every day, our Volunteers find sustainable and creative ways to fight this epidemic.
It is estimated that of the 30 million people who are HIV positive today, two thirds live in Sub-Saharan Africa. For this reason, every Volunteer serving in Africa, regardless of primary assignment, is trained in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. Every day, in countless communities around the world, Volunteers contribute in diverse ways by:
• Helping parents to improve their livelihoods for their families by improving access to clean water, introducing new farming and food generation techniques, and demonstrating safer ways to use cook stoves.
• Creating and implementing innovative HIV prevention content and curricula into English and science lessons.
• Partnering with local community groups to support orphans, vulnerable children, and people living with AIDS.
• Teaching new mothers simple techniques for pasteurizing milk and monitoring baby nutrition and weight.
• Leading camps for young women, “Girls Leading Our World” (GLOW), and helping teach them to be
healthy, safe, and strong in their communities.
So many of today’s inequalities, such as poverty, hunger, and HIV/AIDS, still loom large in much of our world. But, even as we face new challenges, we must continue to work together to make sure we can achieve an AIDS-free generation. .
By Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Deputy Director, Peace Corps