USAID-Peace Corps 50TH Anniversary
AMBASSADOR JERRY P. LANIER
USAID-Peace Corps 50TH Anniversary
U.S. MISSION KAMPALA
SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps,
Representatives of the Government of Uganda here present,
Ladies and gentlemen,
All protocols observed,
Thank you for coming today. I’m honored to be part of the golden anniversary of the United States Agency for International Development and the United States Peace Corps, and to celebrate their achievements with all of you.
Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy called for the creation of the United States Agency for International Development to bring greater peace, prosperity, and hope to the developing world. At about the same time, he challenged young Americans to pledge their lives to the greater good, serve as bridges between societies, and nurture people-to-people diplomacy with the creation of Peace Corps. These two U.S. agencies, born in the universal spirit of friendship, symbolize the commitment to improve the lives of people around the globe by helping them to help themselves.
Tonight, I want to highlight a few of the many accomplishments of these agencies in Uganda.
First, USAID. The Agency opened its doors in Uganda in 1962. From the start, USAID focused on research, technology, and innovation --themes that remain relevant today.
In the 1960's, USAID built the Tororo Girls School to give rural girls access to quality education. Many Tororo graduates and teachers have left a distinct mark on history. We are fortunate to have with us the first Ugandan headmistress of Tororo, who later brought her talents the Ministry of Education. Thank you, Honorable Namirembe Bitamazire, for being here this evening.
To advance new ideas in farming, USAID works side-by-side with the people of Uganda to build agricultural institutes and colleges. The agency partnered with Makerere University to find new seed varieties to help farmers make more money and pay for their children’s school fees. USAID trained Ugandans to grow flowers, and built a cold storage facility so farmers could deliver their products to European markets. The success of Uganda’s flower industry can be traced directly to these early USAID programs. Later, USAID sent students to Ohio, Kansas, and Michigan to learn modern farming methods. Many returned to take on great responsibility in government. Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, was among the students sponsored by USAID.
In the face of the global threat from HIV/AIDS, USAID brought a sense of urgency and focus to health, providing funds and building the capacity of many organizations --including the AIDS Support Organization and the Joint Clinical Research Center-- that have matured into centers of excellence. Today, the American people, through USAID, provide life-extending medicine, enabling mothers to deliver HIV-free babies. Such sustainable solutions help Ugandans to help themselves.
Simply put, there are people in the world today, leaders and opinion makers, fisherman and farmers, who would not be here at all if not for the work of USAID and its partners.
Guided by the same humanitarian values, Peace Corps Volunteers have lived and worked alongside Ugandan families for nearly three decades. Brick by brick, classroom by classroom, village by village, they have transformed the lives of men and women in Uganda over the past 30 years. Throughout my career, over and over, I have heard from one African leader after another about how a Peace Corps volunteer influenced and inspired them. Tonight, we are honored to have Dr. John Geoffrey Mbabazi, Permanent Secretary of the Education Service Commission, who will share his own story with you.
Faithful to their founding goals, Peace Corps volunteers are working with local people; deepening understanding of American culture. As educators, volunteers train primary teachers, school administrators, and community members. As health advocates, they work with clinics and hospitals to promote healthy behavior and lifestyle, integrating HIV/AIDS prevention and care messages into their roles as educators and advisors. As small-enterprise developers, volunteers help small businesses organizations draft business plans and realize ideas to generate income. By using their language skills and cultural understanding, the volunteers are reaching remote corners of the country as only they can do.
Through unity of purpose, USAID and Peace Corps are expanding their reach and turning President Kennedy's noble vision into a reality for all of us.
In closing, let me say this: The tangible results of the people-to-people diplomacy of USAID and Peace Corps embody the spirit of America as it was meant to be. I salute you, I honor you, and most of all I envy you, for you are the true ambassadors of the United States of America.
Enjoy your evening, and thank you all very much.