2009.07.11: July 11, 2009: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Obama: Peace Corps Press Release: Volunteers Give a Warm Send-off to President Obama in Ghana

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : Peace Corps Ghana: Newest Stories: 2009.07.11: July 11, 2009: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Obama: Peace Corps Press Release: Volunteers Give a Warm Send-off to President Obama in Ghana

By Admin1 (admin) ( on Monday, July 27, 2009 - 6:45 am: Edit Post

Volunteers Give a Warm Send-off to President Obama in Ghana

Volunteers Give a Warm Send-off to President Obama in Ghana

To celebrate President Obama's first visit to a Peace Corps country as United States President, roughly 150 Volunteers and Peace Corps staff, in addition to the 67 Peace Corps trainees that just arrived in country on June 4, 2009, attended his departure ceremony. Dozens of Volunteers faced multi-day travel plans to arrive in time from their villages.

Volunteers Give a Warm Send-off to President Obama in Ghana

Volunteers Give a Warm Send-off to President Obama in Ghana

Peace Corps/Ghana Volunteers and Staff attended the President's Departure Ceremony in Accra on July 11, 2009
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Caption: Peace Corps Volunteers cheer as President Barack Obama speaks at a departure ceremony at the airport in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

To celebrate President Obama's first visit to a Peace Corps country as United States President, roughly 150 Volunteers and Peace Corps staff, in addition to the 67 Peace Corps trainees that just arrived in country on June 4, 2009, attended his departure ceremony. Dozens of Volunteers faced multi-day travel plans to arrive in time from their villages.

About Peace Corps/Ghana

Ghana was the first country in the world to welcome the Peace Corps. The first group of 51 Volunteers arrived in Ghana on August 30, 1961. More than 4,000 Volunteers have served there successfully since that time. During the 1960s, the size of the Peace Corps program reached 415 Volunteers, most of whom worked as secondary school science and math teachers. In 1983, due primarily to political and economic uncertainties, Volunteer numbers dropped below 100 for the first time in 22 years. Conditions in Ghana have improved considerably and Peace Corps has increased its Volunteer complement, making the Ghana program among the largest in the Africa Region.

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Caption: President Obama greets Peace Corps Volunteers before he departs Ghana at the airport in Accra, Saturday, July 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Peace Corps continues to enjoy widespread official and public respect and support. Volunteers' work is regarded as a significant contribution to Ghana's efforts to achieve community and national development, and Ghanaians appreciate the effective cultural linkages between Ghanaians and Americans. As a testament to this ongoing relationship, the current Vice President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, was taught by Peace Corps Volunteers.

Peace Corps Volunteers provide assistance in education, environment, health, and small enterprise development. Education Volunteers teach science, math, information and communications technology (ICT), and visual arts in public senior and junior high schools and schools for the deaf. Environment Volunteers reduce environmental degradation through partnerships with governmental and nongovernmental agencies and facilitate the planting and sale of seedlings. Heath/Water and Sanitation Volunteers promote behavior change to reduce water- and sanitation-related diseases and to create HIV/AIDS and Guinea Worm awareness and prevention. Small Enterprise Development Volunteers work as business advisors providing advice and assistance to a variety of rural and urban small-scale entrepreneurs under the sponsorship of government agencies as well as private sector associations and non governmental organizations.

President Obama's Remarks at the Departure Ceremony

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, Ghana. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. I want to thank the people of Ghana for this extraordinary visit. Michelle and I have been greatly honored to be joined by President Mills and his lovely wife. They have been gracious hosts.

You know, your President and I have a lot in common. We're both lawyers, we're both former law professors, we're both new presidents. (Applause.) We both like to think of ourselves as athletes. The difference is President Mills played hockey on the national team of Ghana, and I played basketball mostly in my backyard. (Applause.)

But we both love sports. We're both proud of serving our country. And today I want to honor President Mills for his strong and thoughtful leadership, his devotion to democracy, and his commitment for the future of his nation. I also want to thank the magnificent welcoming committee, including the drummers and the dancers. Michelle and I and our daughters enjoyed it very much.

I want to recognize our Peace Corps volunteers who are here. (Applause.) You know, Ghana was the very first nation to host young people from the Peace Corps. And for decades, our two nations have formed vital partnerships and lasting friendships because of this program. So all of you in the Peace Corps, you are doing an outstanding job and we're proud of you. (Applause.)

As somebody whose father comes from Africa, obviously this visit has been particularly meaningful for me. I've had a chance to discuss the future of Ghana but also the future of Africa with President Mills. I've spoken to the parliament here in Ghana about America's commitment to supporting democracy and development.

Michelle and I visited LA General Hospital, where we met with beautiful women and their children who are getting the care that they need for a healthy start.

And finally, we toured Cape Coast Castle -- a place for centuries where men, women, and children of this nation and surrounding areas were sold into slavery. I'll never forget the image of my two young daughters, the descendants of Africans and African Americans, walking through those doors of no return, but then walking back those doors of return. It was a remarkable reminder that while the future is unknowable, the winds always blow in the direction of human progress.

At each point of our visit here, I was reminded of the enduring bond between our nations. Men and women taken from this nation helped to build my own. Today, many of our leading citizens trace their roots to these shores. Your first President attended a university in the United States, as did your current one. Great civil rights leaders of America, like Dr. Martin Luther King, looked to the independence movement here in Ghana and asked themselves, "If Africans can live freely in Africa, why can't African Americans live freely in America?"

And immigrants from Ghana and from all across Africa have thrived all across America. Today, both our nations are diverse and vibrant democracies. Here in Ghana, many different ethnic groups speak many languages, but have found a way to live and work together in peace. People here can speak freely and worship freely. You have a robust civil society, fair elections, and a free press, a growing market economy and a sense of energy and optimism. And every day with its success, Ghana sends a simple message to the world that democracy can thrive in Africa. (Applause.)

So we in America are proud of our partnership with Ghana. Together we've worked to advance education and fight poverty. We've made real and measurable strides in fighting diseases from malaria to tuberculosis to polio and neglected tropical diseases. This is a partnership we intend to continue. It's a partnership based not just on shared interests, but on shared ideals -- ideals forged in struggles for independence that have made our countries who they are.

We believe that democracy is not simply a gift from previous generations, but a responsibility for each generation to preserve and to pass on. We believe that no one, whether it's through the influence of politics, the power of money, or the fear of force is above the law. And we believe that we're all equal, all endowed with basic human dignity, all entitled to basic human rights.

It is up to each of us, every one of us, to uphold those ideals. This is true not just in Ghana but for all of Africa. America wants to partner with the people and nations of Africa, but we all know that the future of Africa is in the hands of Africa.

So I especially want to, again, speak to the young people of Africa. In places like Ghana you make up more than half the population, and here is what you must know: that the world is what you make of it. You have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in communities like these Peace Corps workers -- (applause) -- and harness your energy and education to renew and build connections between the world. You can conquer disease and end conflict and make change from the bottom up. You can do all that.

And I promise you this: If you seize this opportunity, if you take responsibility for your future, America will be with you every step of the way as a partner and as a friend. (Applause.)

Freedom is your inheritance, hard won 52 years ago by men and women determined to cast off the title of subjects for the title of citizens, and claim for themselves and their children the liberties that are all of our birthrights.

Dr. King came here to Ghana to witness the culmination of that struggle. He watched as the Union Jack was lowered and the Ghanaian flag was raised at the parliament. He marveled at the site of the Duchess of Kent dancing with the new Ghanaian President at the state ball. And in a sermon he gave upon returning home to America, he said of this new nation, "There is a great day ahead. The future is on its side." Those words ring just as true today as they did more than half a century ago.

Great days lie ahead for this nation. The future is on Ghana's side. I promise that America will be with you. (Applause.) And together we will create a better world.

Thank you, Ghana. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

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Headlines: July, 2009; Peace Corps Ghana; Directory of Ghana RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Ghana RPCVs; Presidents - Obama

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Story Source: Peace Corps Press Release

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; Obama


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