Lending Help: 10 Historic Facts About the Peace Corps in Jamaica

Photo by Amitabh Sharma Evan Adams, Peace Corps volunteer teaches Grade 3 students of Wilmor Prep School, Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth about making compost *** Local Caption *** Photo by Amitabh Sharma Evan Adams, Peace Corps volunteer teaches Grade 3 students of Wilmor Prep School, Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth about making compost

The United States Peace Corps was established in 1961 by US President John F. Kennedy with the aim of fostering international relations. It allows American men and women to volunteer for two years in another country, providing assistance to nations around the world. Peace Corps volunteers are present in over 138 developing countries, helping these countries to meet their need for trained men and women in specific areas. Here are 10 facts about the Peace Corps’ operations in Jamaica:

  1. On February 22, 1962, Premier Norman Washington Manley signed an agreement with the United States government inviting the Peace Corps to have a programme in Jamaica. This was just a year after the formal establishment of the US Peace Corps in 1961.
  2. The first set of volunteers arrived in Jamaica on June 12, 1962  – two months before we gained Independence!
  3. The first group of 37 volunteers – 26 men, 11 women – worked in many fields, including agriculture, vocational education, library development, construction, electricity, and plumbing.
  4. Then Minister of Welfare, Edward Seaga, heralded the coming of the US Peace Corps to Jamaica as bringing “a new respect for the dignity of human labour and a breath of fresh air”.
  5. The number of volunteers expanded to 100 by the programme’s second year (1963).
  6.  More than 3,880 people have served as volunteers since the programme’s start until now.
  7. Volunteers live with Jamaican host families; getting used to the Jamaican culture and having a cultural exchange experience while learning the local language, way of life, and foods.
  8. The Peace Corps has three goals:
    •  Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women;
    • Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served;
    • Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans
  9. In 1988, Peace Corps volunteers assisted in Jamaica’s recovery effort following Hurricane Gilbert.
  10. In March 2013, the organisation celebrated its 50th anniversary in Jamaica.

Sourcse: Peace Corps About Jamaica and The Gleaner Newspaper Archives