Peace Corps service is needed more than ever

This month, the Peace Corps celebrates its 60th anniversary. President Kennedy signed the legislation that created the Peace Corps in Se...

This month, the Peace Corps celebrates its 60th anniversary. President Kennedy signed the legislation that created the Peace Corps in September 1961, deepening through action our key national values ​​of service, sacrifice, dedication, and learning from those we serve.

The goals of the Peace Corps are to serve others in interested countries, to bring a better understanding of our country to others, and to bring a better understanding of others to their homes.

My wife, Kris Holloway, and I are proud to have served, joining over 240,000 people across the country over the past six decades.

I came in to bring my skills and commitment to others (and see the world, after growing up in a tiny town in New Hampshire). I left enriched and grateful. My life has changed forever for the better.

Kris and I have worked in remote Malian villages. I trained teams of men to repair wells. Kris and I funded the reconstruction of the village maternity ward and school latrines, and organized health training, such as making oral hydration drinks for dehydrated children. What all this work had in common was how much we were making for so little money. One hundred dollars could make a well safer and provide drinking water for hundreds of villagers. Motherhood cost a few thousand dollars. The oral rehydration drink cost a few cents.

Our experience is not unique and the impact of the Peace Corps is widely recognized. Kul Chandra Gautam, former Nepalese diplomat and former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF (July 2020) said:

“Our increasingly interconnected world demands global solidarity, not charity, to solve global problems that transcend national borders like the specters of war, terrorism, racism, climate change and pandemics like COVID -19. I sincerely believe that the Peace Corps can be a great organization dedicated to promoting such global solidarity at the interpersonal level.

The world wants and needs the Peace Corps more than ever.

This anniversary of the Peace Corps, however, is unique because the pandemic means there are no volunteers on the ground. This unprecedented moment provided an opportunity to reflect on what the Peace Corps has accomplished and imagine what should follow. With that in mind, the National Peace Corps Association has hosted a series of nationwide conversations.

Here is what they heard. Returning Peace Corps volunteers envision an agency that 1) advances global peace and understanding, 2) seeks innovative solutions to shared global problems, and 3) responds to changing expectations in the developing world. Additionally, respondents want an agency that tackles systemic racism, gender discrimination and climate change. Finally, they want the Peace Corps to genuinely listen to global partners so that they can offer the best that America has to offer.

Peace Corps has done a lot of positive work for a long time, and for very little taxpayer investment. The international affairs budget represents approximately 1% of all federal spending and the Peace Corps only represents 1% of the international affairs budget. Adding up all Congressional budget allocations over its history, the total funding for all Peace Corps amounts to just under $ 12.8 billion. Compare that to the FY2021 international affairs budget of $ 57.4 billion. In other words, 60 years of Peace Corps funding is equivalent to three months of our current international affairs budget.

Peace Corps has made a tremendous contribution to the individuals and communities in which they have served, and to our world. Won’t you join us in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps and ensuring its resurgence by urging your congressman to co-sponsor the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (HR 1456)?

Help deepen our nation’s commitment to service, peace, sacrifice, commitment and, yes, humility – by learning from others we hope to serve.

John Bidwell is executive director of the United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire area. He served in Mali as a water resources manager from 1989 to 1991 and is the editor of “Monique and the Mango Rains”, the book written by his wife Kris Holloway which chronicles their experience with the Peace Corps.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Peace Corps service is needed more than ever
Peace Corps service is needed more than ever
Newsrust - US Top News
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