March 1, 2021, marked the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Cameroon was one of the first countries to host the Peace Corps, starting the very next year, making it one of the oldest, continuous aspects of the partnership, and indeed the friendship, between our nations. Each year Peace Corps celebrates Peace Corps Week to commemorate the historic anniversary of its birth and the opportunity it created for Americans to serve their country and their world. In Cameroon as elsewhere, Peace Corps Volunteers represent American values and ideals where they serve and share their stories when they return home, helping to educate Americans about their host communities and countries.
Since its birth, more than 240,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers in 141 countries, and since 1962, over 3,800 Volunteers have served in all 10 regions of Cameroon. As one of the longest standing U.S.-Cameroonian partnership, Peace Corps works hand-in-hand with its host government partners, local communities, and non-governmental organizations to place Volunteers in communities and projects where they can achieve the most impact. In 2019-2020, Peace Corps Cameroon had 167 Volunteers working in community health, education, and agriculture in six regions (Adamawa, Center, East, Littoral, South and West).
It is Peace Corps’ host partners and the incredibly welcoming communities across Cameroon that enable Volunteers to do the work they do towards Peace Corps’ Mission of promoting world peace and friendship. They immerse themselves in their communities, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of those communities.
I commend each of Peace Corps’ partners and host communities for their faithful collaboration and incessant support to Volunteers. Truly, “on est ensemble,” as community members give generously of themselves to make the Volunteers feel welcome and at home in Cameroon, forging generations of Americans who also relate their experiences in Cameroon back to their friends and family in the United States. In U.S. embassies around the world, including here in Cameroon, we are grateful to have many former Peace Corps Volunteers working as U.S. diplomats, bringing a rich knowledge and perspective to the work we do.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, Peace Corps evacuated all Volunteers world-wide back to the United States, but we are working hard to return Volunteers to Cameroon in 2021. I believe the work of Peace Corps Volunteers and their role in building durable understanding between people and between our countries is representative of the best and most important work we do to build the U.S.-Cameroon relationship. I look forward to welcoming Volunteers back in 2021!
Vernelle Trim FitzPatrick
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
U.S. Embassy in Cameroon
March 4, 2021