The US government has re-established volunteer service in Uganda following a two-year break-off occasioned by COVID-19, an epidemic that paralysed nations and the global economy.
A total of 33 volunteers under the US Peace Corps now in Uganda to serve in agribusiness, health and education sectors across the country have taken their oath of service after completing a one-month training in culture and languages to help them integrate into the Ugandan communities.
US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Natalie E Brown underscored the long-standing friendship between the American people and those of Uganda since the start of the volunteer service in 1963.
The envoy expressed her delight for the restoration of the service following a two-year break that also led to the repatriation of over 77,000 volunteers worldwide.
She commended the Uganda Government and other partner organisations for the assistance that had enabled the volunteers to enter Uganda and settle in before training to prepare them for service. She called upon the volunteers to be ready for an indelible experience but this would, she said, not be devoid of some hardships and urged them to respect the culture of the communities in which they are to serve.
State Minister for Agriculture Fred Bwiino Kyakulaga assured the team of continued support and a brighter future to attain cherished development, peace and friendship.
He said the return of the volunteers that coincided with Uganda’s 60 independence anniversary resonated with the word of former US President JF Kennedy to the Uganda government at independence (1962) welcoming the latter to a community of free nations. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, since then more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide, including 1,861in Uganda
He said the volunteer service and other assistance by the United States to Uganda was a boost in the country’s effort to lift the standard of the people through agribusiness development, education and health – sectors the volunteers are going to serve in.
The US remains Uganda’s biggest multilateral donor with USD 82 million in annual aid in humanitarian assistance alone (USAID) followed by Germany. Most US aid is committed to social sectors in the areas of poverty reduction, education, health and refugee programmes. Much of the funding also goes to democratic assistance programmes.