Peace Corps Swearing-in Ceremony for Agriculture and Community Health Volunteers

Good morning Your Excellency Minister of Public Health, Mr. Andre Mama Fouda;
Your Excellency, Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Clementine Ananga Messina;
Peace Corps Cameroon Director Mark Orlic and his outstanding staff;
Peace Corps Volunteers past, present, and future;
Ladies and gentlemen,

At a time when terrorists send others to kill innocent victims around the world, America is proud to show the opposite.  We send our Peace Corps Volunteers to build lives in partnership with other nations and here in Cameroon!

For 53 consecutive years, with over 3,500 Volunteers, Peace Corps Cameroon has used a people to people approach to build capacity at the community level.  Cameroon has hosted the Peace Corps since 1962, and today we continue a long tradition of excellence built by generations of Peace Corps volunteers who served before you.

Our Peace Corps Country Director Mark Orlic came to Cameroon 40 years ago, as a trainee and spent two months in Mbengwi in the Northwest Region at the fish cultural station.  He performed his Peace Corps service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – then called Zaire – from 1975 through 1978.

Let’s give all former and current Peace Corps members a round of applause in appreciation for their service!

This class has 40 Trainees – 18 Agriculture and 22 Health extension workers.  The past 10 weeks of training in Ebolowa, in Mengong in the South Region and in Mbengwi in the North-West Region included intense sessions on technical theory, language, culture, and practical technical training in the Mbengwi Fish Cultural station (NW) and health centers and schools in Ebolowa and Mengong.

To obtain a true cultural and language immersion, every Trainee lived with a host family.  Trainees learned French, Fufulde, and Cameroon Pidgin English.  These Trainees are more resilient because of this rich and unique cultural experience.  Thanks to the training program and their own personal best efforts, this class will be posted in six Regions of Cameroon at 40 different sites.

I want to especially thank their homestay families in the South Region including Angale, Bilon, Bissock, Bitiyili, and Mengong.

I want to especially thank the Trainers, who have left an indelible mark on these amazing young people.

And I want to thank the Administrative officials including Governors, government and community officials, as well as their Cameroonian colleagues and mentors.

Trainees, your fellow Peace Corps Volunteers currently in the field have set a high bar for you to meet. As a result of their work:

  • Over 21,000 individuals received HIV prevention training;
  • Over 16,000 individuals have been trained on use of bed nets;
  • Over 1,400 women now use better nutrition practices ;
  • Over 3,500 individuals have been trained on food security and agriculture productivity;
  • Over 900 new gardens were created.

Most importantly, thousands of bridges between Cameroon and America have been built.  And these are the most important bridges, the kind of bridges that bind hearts and minds.  Cameroon’s Prime Minister Filemon Yang opened his most recent meeting with me by telling me the names of the Peace Corps Volunteers who worked in his village forty years ago!

The Prime Minister went on to talk about the amazing influence these young Americans had, and how it still resonates to this very day.

As Peace Corps Volunteers, you will earn a Master’s Degree in Cross-Cultural Communication.  Each of you are Ambassadors of the United States to your community in Cameroon.  You will build an experience that you will hold dear for the rest of your life.

I congratulate you for your courage in taking on this challenge.  Know that all of us here in the embassy consider you to be the US Government’s most valuable resource in Cameroon.  We want you to succeed, and we are here to support your throughout your time in Cameroon.

The oath that you are about to take is the same as the one taken by all federal officials, civil servants, military members, ambassadors, and others.

I now invite you (Trainees) to stand, raise your right hand and repeat after me:

I (state your name) DO SOLEMLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM)

THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC,

THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME,

THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY,

WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATIONS OR PURPOSE OF EVASION,

AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE

MY DUTIES IN THE PEACE CORPS

SO HELP ME GOD.

You are now Peace Corps Volunteers. CONGRATULATIONS!