Ana Victoria Cruz posted an articleShare your story—whether it’s video, pictures, text. This is just a beginning. see more
On March 15 more than 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers were told they needed to leave the communities they had called home—an unprecedented global evacuation. They were uprooted from the lives and work they had come to know, sometimes without the opportunity to even say goodbye. They are returning to a country in crisis.
National Peace Corps Association is working to ensure they have the resources they need during these uncertain and difficult times. We also want to make sure the world hears their stories.
We are gathering here first-person videos and stories, as well as interviews with evacuated Volunteers from around the world.
We invite you to participate, too. We want to share your story—whether it’s video, pictures, text, or you’d like to talk to one of our writers. This is just a beginning.
Home: Gloucester, Virginia
Teaching English as a foreign language in a school in a small village. Unfinished business: building a resource center for learning English to help students, faculty, and staff.
“I hope everyone stays safe, and I will be back as soon as possible.”
Home: Condon, Oregon
Working with dairy farmers on economic development and entrepreneurship.
“Much of what I was doing seemed like it would soon have promising results.”
Home: San Francisco, California
Working as a Public Health Education Volunteer
“Mongolia loves Peace Corps! … I really hope that—in enough time—Peace Corps will send Volunteers back and be able to continue the work going on in the country.”
Home: Thousand Oaks, California
Working as part of Teaching Empowerment for Student Success (TESS) program, teaching alongside a Thai teacher.
“Peace Corps really provides an outlet for creating a global community, and I think there always be a need for that.”
Home: Greater Washington, DC Area
Serving as an English teaching and gender education Volunteer
“We need to get the Peace Corps opened up again as soon as possible. … [They’re] doing incredible work, especially supporting girls’ education.”
Home: Louisville, Kentucky
Serving as a community health services promoter
“I left behind the most extraordinary community … If it is not possible to personally reinstate or return to Metangula, I hope that Peace Corps is able to reinstate its programs in Mozambique so that Metangula will receive another volunteer in the future.”
Home: Kansas City, Missouri
Three-time Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English — and had hoped to extend to three years of service in Nepal. Previously served in Thailand and Mongolia.
“I left students behind — many that were lower level students that most teachers had written off. … Many of them have begun to be excited about learning … I want to return as soon as possible.”
Steven Boyd Saum served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine 1994–96 and is the editor of WorldView magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Peace Corps Association Operations posted an articleTime and again, volunteers learn the importance of resilience and flexibility in the face of crisis. see more
On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the Chicago Tribune published an OpEd by NPCA president and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. In the article, Glenn urges Congress to include Peace Corps in its appropriations to cover evacuation costs and the eventual rehiring and redeployment of many of the current volunteers who wish to return to their countries once the crisis is over.
In addition, he details the type of immediate assistance evacuated volunteers will need, including:
• Adequate coverage for physical and mental health
• Support in finding work in their U.S. communities here so they can apply their special skill sets to help their communities overcome this pandemic
• Appropriate exceptions to current policies related to student loans, graduate school, unemployment eligibility and federal hiring.
This is the fourth time President Trump is proposing Peace Corps cuts. see more
President Trump proposed a $9.3 million cut in baseline funding for the Peace Corps for Fiscal Year 2021. His proposal—sent to Congress this week—would provide $401.2 million for the agency, down from the current $410.5 million budget.
The request marks only the second time in the nearly 60-year history of the Peace Corps in which a president has proposed cutting agency funding for four consecutive years. In the previous three years, Congress responded by restoring the proposed cuts. However, the end result has been five consecutive years of flat funding for the agency.
In its budget justification report to Congress, Peace Corps says the budget will allow the agency "to continue supporting more than 6,700 Volunteers and trainees serving in 61 countries". However, that number is approximately eight percent below the 7,334 volunteers and trainees reported during the agency's annual census, conducted on September 30, 2019.
"In this period of growing prosperity, it is a shame that Peace Corps funding remains flat for five consecutive years,” said National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. “Now, the Administration once again proposes cuts that will further reduce Peace Corps' ability to meet the demand for volunteers around the world. We expect Congress will reject this budget cut and we hope Congress will find a way to give Peace Corps a raise in Fiscal Year 2021."
While Peace Corps' proposed budget represents a two percent reduction in funding, a much deeper 22 percent cut is proposed for the entire International Affairs Budget. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition issued this statement in response to those cuts.
As has been the case in each of the past three years, the White House has proposed the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which includes various domestic service programs including Americorps and Senior Corps. Voices for National Service issued this statement in response to the proposed elimination of CNCS.
Necessary funding for Peace Corps will be a primary point of focus during NPCA’s upcoming National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps. Contact Community Engagement Associate Arianna Richard at arianna@peacecorpsconnect to find out more about organizing an advocacy event in your area during March or April.
Ten former Peace Corps Directors oppose Senate legislation see more
A bi-partisan group of ten former Peace Corps directors are unified in their opposition to Senate legislation that would place Peace Corps operations under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of State, ending the agency’s independent status.
“The independence of the Peace Corps has been carefully protected by Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Congress for the past 58 years,” said the letter addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and signed by ten former directors. “Part of the reason (for this independence) is to ensure that Volunteers would not be confused with those carrying out day-to-day U.S. foreign and security policies. Turning the Peace Corps into a bureau of the Department of State would void that independence.”
The letter also references the 1961 statement of then Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who outlined the importance of Peace Corps independence at its inception: “The Peace Corps is not an instrument of foreign policy because to make it so would rob it of its contribution to foreign policy.”
Last July, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the "Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act" (S.2320), which proposes Peace Corps be made a subordinate agency within the Department of State, with the Peace Corps budget being incorporated into the State Department. The bill also calls for the removal of Volunteers currently serving in China and states that "the Peace Corps shall not operate in any country that is hostile to the national security interests of the United States, as determined by the Secretary of State."
As part of NPCA's upcoming National Days of Action, advocates will meet with lawmakers to take action on this legislation. Register here if you plan to join us for our March 5th Capitol Hill advocacy day or register here if you can organize a solidarity event in your community during March or April.
Have questions? We're here to help. Email email@example.com.
Agency slated to receive $410 million for fifth consecutive year see more
After weeks of negotiations, Congress approved and President Trump signed a $1.4 trillion federal spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY 2020) that includes level funding of $410.5 million for Peace Corps.
The House of Representatives approved the spending package on December 17th, while the Senate ratified the package on December 19th. President Trump signed the legislation on December 20th, the day when a continuing resolution to keep the government operating was set to expire.
“While we realize our lawmakers have many difficult decisions before them when putting together our federal budget, it is disappointing they chose to flat fund Peace Corps once again,” said NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. “Other than a very minimal – one tenth of one percent – increase in spending last year, this will mark the fifth consecutive year that Peace Corps will be forced to manage its operations with the same amount of funding. When inflation is factored in, the agency will need to sustain operations with tens of millions of dollars less in purchasing power. Peace Corps is already experiencing negative impacts, at a time when the needs and importance of international service is as important as ever.”
While Congress only funded Peace Corps at current levels, it rejected the Trump Administration’s recommendation to cut funding by more than $14 million. The president has proposed cutting Peace Corps’ budget each of the past three years.
Ana Victoria Cruz posted an articleThe bill would provide additional federal funding and resources to advance Peace Corps’ mission. see more
Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456), with bipartisan support. The bill’s original cosponsors include Representatives Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) and Garret Graves (R-LA)—co-chairs of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus with Congressman Garamendi—and Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and Donna E. Shalala (D-FL).
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456) would provide additional federal funding and resources to advance the Peace Corps’ mission around the world and better support current, returning, and former Peace Corps volunteers.
Representatives Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-1968), Kennedy (Dominican Republic 2004-2006), and Shalala (Iran 1962-1964) are returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Representative Radewagen was a former Peace Corps staffer (Northern Mariana Islands 1967-1968).
“My wife Patti and I owe so much to our service in the Peace Corps. It inspired a lifetime of service that began in Ethiopia during the late 1960s and continued into state government in California, the Clinton Administration, and now the U.S. Congress,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA). “Now more than ever, Congress must support the Peace Corps’ mission and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place. Our reauthorization bill does exactly that, and I thank my fellow Peace Corps Caucus co-chairs and Congressional colleagues for their support as original cosponsors.”
“At a time of unrest and uncertainty the world over, the Peace Corps embodies the very best of what America has to offer: service to others for the common cause of peace, progress, and democratic ideals. The Peace Corps Authorization Act will strengthen our country’s commitment to that mission and ensure future generations are prepared to defend this nation’s most sacred values,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA).
“The Peace Corps has been exporting American values for almost six decades, promoting her spirit and sowing seeds of freedom in nations across the world through its work-based service program,” said Congressman Garret Graves, Co-chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus. “Peace Corps volunteers – like the program itself – give more than they take and continue to deliver to taxpayers a compounded return on investment,” said Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA).
“Since its inception, the Peace Corps has used America's greatest strength - its people - to build civil society and mutual respect between our country and the people of the world. This was true when I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and it is true today. We must continue to fully fund the Peace Corps in order to preserve this vital instrument of American values and democracy,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL).
“My work with the Peace Corps was a special time in my life, and good preparation for keeping the right priorities through the years,” said Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS). “The Peace Corps is a proven program that has helped people now for so long. This is an important effort to reauthorize and strengthen the Peace Corps, while encouraging a culture of serving others and volunteering.”
“As the Peace Corps celebrates its 58th anniversary this year, this comprehensive reauthorization bill will expand support for former and current Peace Corps volunteers and enable the Peace Corps to continue its important contribution to our global diplomacy efforts,” said Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). “I am glad that my bill, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, is included in this reauthorization, allowing those who have been a part of the Peace Corps to proudly display the insignia.”
“National Peace Corps Association is delighted to endorse the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Congressman John Garamendi. In addition to calling for robust funding and a number of other important provisions, this legislation makes fiscally prudent strides in improving the Peace Corps’ commitment to the wellbeing of Volunteers disabled during their national service abroad,” said Glenn Blumhorst, President and CEO of the National Peace Corps Association. “We thank Congressmen Garamendi for his continued commitment to the Peace Corps mission by drafting this Reauthorization which would both improve the benefits of our American Volunteers and enhance the agency’s ability to complete its legislative mandate.”
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456) would:
- Authorize $450 million in yearly funding for the Peace Corps, an increase over the flat $410 million funding level provided by Congress in recent years.
- Direct the Peace Corps to establish new volunteer opportunities that promote Internet technology-adoption in developing countries and engage tech-savvy American volunteers.
- Increase monthly allowances for Peace Corps volunteers and leaders to $417 per month of service completed, to reflect increases in cost of living over the past several decades and provide $10,000 for a full 2-year term of service. The current monthly allowance is $350 per month, as ordered administratively by the Peace Corps Director.
- Include the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act (H.R.1411) sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) since 2013.
- Extend Peace Corps volunteers’ 12-month hiring preference for most federal job openings during any federal hiring freeze, government shutdown, or while a volunteer receives federal worker’s compensation benefits for any injury during their Peace Corps service.
- Require the Peace Corps and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to routinely update their existing Memorandum of Agreement for Peace Corps volunteer security support and protection, in foreign countries.
- Increase the federal workers’ compensation rate for all Peace Corps volunteers injured or disabled during their service from a GS-7 to a GS-11 level, the same rate provided for Peace Corps volunteers with dependent children under current law.
The bipartisan bill builds upon the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256). Congress last reauthorized the Peace Corps in 1999 (Public Law 106-30), which expired at the end of fiscal year 2003. The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456) currently awaits action by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
A record number of Representatives ask for an extra $40 million for the agency see more
A record number of 181 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter calling for a $40 million increase for the Peace Corps!
The letter, which was drafted by National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), was circulated by the three co-chairs of the House Peace Corps Caucus: RPCV Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and fellow Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA).
172 Democrats (making up 73% of House Democrats) and nine Republicans signed the letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee for State/Foreign Operations requesting an increase in funding for the fiscal year that begins this coming October from $410.5 million currently to $450 million. Thirty-five new members of Congress also signed the letter.
NPCA advocates from all fifty states sent more than 2,000 messages to Congress in the past week, urging members to sign the letter.
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Take Action - Say Thank You!
The following members of the House of Representatives signed the Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter. If your representative is listed below, contact them and say "thank you for signing the Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter."
- Terri Sewell
- Don Young
- Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen
- Ruben Gallego
- Raul Grijalva
- Karen Bass
- Ami Bera
- Julia Brownley
- Salud Carbajal
- Tony Cardenas
- Judy Chu
- Gilbert Cisneros
- Jim Costa
- Susan Davis
- Mark Desaulnier
- Anna Eshoo
- John Garamendi (co-author)
- Jimmy Gomez
- Katie Hill
- Ro Khanna
- Doug LaMalfa
- Barbara Lee
- Mike Levin
- Ted Lieu
- Zoe Lofgren
- Alan Lowenthal
- Doris Matsui
- Jerry McNerney
- Grace Napolitano
- Jimmy Panetta
- Scott Peters
- Katie Porter
- Harley Rouda
- Lucille Roybal-Allard
- Linda Sanchez
- Adam Schiff
- Jackie Speier
- Eric Swalwell
- Mark Takano
- Juan Vargas
- Maxine Waters
- Diana DeGette
- Joe Neguse
- Ed Perlmutter
- Joe Courtney
- Rosa DeLauro
- Jahana Hayes
- Jim Himes
- John Larson
- Lisa Blunt Rochester
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
- Eleanor Holmes Norton
- Kathy Castor
- Ted Deutch
- Alcee Hastings
- Al Lawson
- Stephanie Murphy
- Donna Shalala
- Darren Soto
- Frederica Wilson
- Sanford Bishop
- Hank Johnson
- John Lewis
- David Scott
- Michael F.Q. San Nicolas
- Tulsi Gabbard
- Cheri Bustos
- Sean Casten
- Danny Davis
- Bill Foster
- Jesus Garcia
- Robin Kelly
- Daniel Lipinski
- Bobby Rush
- Jan Schakowsky
- Brad Schneider
- Andre Carson
- Cynthia Axne
- Dave Loebsack
- Andy Barr
- John Yarmuth
- Garrett Graves (co-author)
- Cedric Richmond
- Jared Golden
- Chellie Pingree
- Anthony Brown
- Elijah Cummings
- Jamie Raskin
- Dutch Ruppersberger
- John Sarbanes
- David Trone
- William Keating
- Joseph Kennedy III (co-author)
- Stephen Lynch
- James McGovern
- Seth Moulton
- Richard Neal
- Ayanna Pressley
- Lori Trahan
- Debbie Dingell
- Dan Kildee
- Andy Levin
- Elissa Slotkin
- Angie Craig
- Jim Hagedorn
- Collin Peterson
- Bennie Thompson
- Emanuel Cleaver
- Susie Lee
- Dina Titus
- Ann McLane Kuster
- Chris Pappas
- Josh Gottheimer
- Andy Kim
- Tom Malinowski
- Donald Norcross
- Bill Pascrell Jr.
- Frank Pallone Jr.
- Donald Payne Jr.
- Mikie Sherrill
- Albio Sires
- Jeff Van Drew
- Deb Haaland
- Ben Ray Lujan
- Yvette Clarke
- Antonio Delgado
- Eliot Engel
- Adriano Espaillat
- Brian Higgins
- Hakeem Jeffries
- John Katko
- Carolyn Maloney
- Sean Patrick Maloney
- Gregory Meeks
- Joseph Morelle
- Jerry Nadler
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Kathleen Rice
- Thomas Suozzi
- Paul Tonko
- Nydia Velazquez
- Alma Adams
- G.K. Butterfield
NORTHERN MARIANAS ISLANDS
- Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
- Joyce Beatty
- Marcia Fudge
- Earl Blumenauer
- Suzanne Bonamici
- Peter DeFazio
- Brendan Boyle
- Mike Doyle
- Dwight Evans
- Brian Fitzpatrick
- Susan Wild
- Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon
- David Cicilline
- Jim Langevin
- Steve Cohen
- Colin Allred
- Joaquin Castro
- Lloyd Doggett
- Veronica Escobar
- Al Green
- Sheila Jackson Lee
- Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Marc Veasey
- Filemon Vela
- Peter Welch
- Don Beyer
- Gerald Connolly
- Donald McEachin
- Bobby Scott
- Abigail Spanberger
- Jennifer Wexton
- Suzan DelBene
- Denny Heck
- Pramila Jayapal
- Rick Larsen
- Kim Schrier
- Adam Smith
- Ron Kind
- Gwen Moore
Peace Corps funding is currently on track for level funding in the next fiscal year. see more
At the beginning this week, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst (far right, with Missouri delegation meeting Senator Roy Blunt) led a Capitol Hill delegation to support stable funding for our nation’s international affairs programs during a “State Leaders Summit” organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.
By week’s end, Congress moved to make sure that happen – with Peace Corps funding also in the mix for stable funding.
In a concerted effort to complete its work before the October 1st start of the 2019 fiscal year (FY 2019), the Senate and House Appropriations Committees both gave approval to respective appropriations bills that have strong similarities.
In approving its State/Foreign Operations proposal, the House Appropriations Committee is recommending level funding of $54 billion for FY 2019. The proposal of the Senate Appropriations Committee was slightly larger, proposing a one percent increase to $54.4 billion. These recommendations are in sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s proposal to cut this funding by nearly thirty percent.
The pathway for the Peace Corps is similar. While the Trump administration proposed a $14 million cut to the agency for FY 2019, the Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending level funding of $410 million. The House Appropriations Committee approved a recommendation with a very slight increase in funding – to $410.5 million.
As the committee recommendations head next to the full Senate and House, NPCA President Blumhorst congratulated all Peace Corps community members who took action over the past months.
“For every member of our community who over the past four months has made a phone call, sent an email, wrote a post card, participated in a district office meeting or came to Washington, we thank you. It is vitally important that our elected representatives hear from constituents who believe in the power of the Peace Corps and the importance of our diplomatic, international development and humanitarian assistance programs. Your individual actions add up, and they protect Peace Corps and other programs so many in our community care about. This achievement belongs to you.”
Amanda Silva posted an articlePCV Togo shares his touching story of bringing clean water to his community. see more
Peace Corps Volunteer Mokube Ewane serves in Kante in the Kara Region of Togo. The project was originally designed to dig eight public wells, install two hand washing stations in public schools, and repair/rehabilitate three community water pumps. At the conclusion the community had built 12 wells, rehabilitated two wells, and repaired four hand pumps. The handwashing stations were deferred. The work was done in 17 communities, bringing water to 5,300 people.
Here is an excerpt from Mokube's final project report:
The farther north you go in Togo, the more scarce water becomes. This is particularly true in northern villages that are farther away from the national road. Each time I go to visit AIDS patients in remote villages and have the time to chat with community members, all they could talk about is how scarce water is, and how they have to travel long distances to fetch it. Sometimes, the water they fetch may not be ideal for human consumption. However, that is all they have.
I have seen villagers, especially girls, fetch water in the same pond that animals such as goat, and cows drink from. Often, the water contained in these shallow ponds is greenish, or yellowish in color. I was riding my bike from Kante (my post) to a nearby village, just to see and experience how life is over there. I came across a couple of children about 13 and 15 years old. They were standing next to a shallow pond of yellowish standing water. I asked what they were doing and they told me they were fetching drinking water. Just to be sure, I asked if that’s where they get their drinking water and their response was affirmative.
This situation is not unique to this village. Even in villages with access to a hand pump, when broken, it can take sometimes four years or more to get it repaired. I was a witness to three such villages with broken hand pumps since 2012. These pumps just got repaired in April 2016, thanks to our water project. People desperately wanted to get a reliable, potable and clean source of drinking water. Hence, my community and I had no choice but to undertake this water project. To correct myself, we had a choice: do nothing and let people continue to suffer or try to undertake a difficult and ambitious water project that will improve the living condition of thousands of people and save tens if not hundreds of lives each year. We chose the latter. At the end of the project, we were able to provide access to potable water to 17 communities (~5300 direct beneficiaries), thanks to Water Charity and National Peace Corps Association.
At first, people were a little skeptical about the notion of a potable water source next to them. However, when they realized that was a reality, their enthusiasm and excitement for the project couldn’t be exaggerated. After much planning and sensitization, the water project was officially launched in March 2016. With inputs from the mayor’s office, local chiefs, quarter heads, community members and presidents of the various development committees, consensus was made to build or rehabilitate water wells and repair hand pumps in 17 communities (five villages and 12 neighborhoods). At the end of the project, 12 brand new wells were built, two wells rehabilitated, three hand pumps repaired, and one hand pump repaired and rehabilitated (Totaling 14 wells and four hand pumps). These communities were chosen based on two main criteria: number of people in village (village population density), and degree of difficulty they face fetching water.
When the project began in the various sites, people couldn’t disguise their joy and happiness. They were very motivated to be part of this project. Some people came up to me and say “nous ne savons pas comment te remercier” (roughly translated to “we don’t know how to thank you”). Others will say “tu as sauvé nos vies (roughly translated to “you have saved our lives”). Apart from sand and gravel (community contribution), a lot of people were bringing food and local drinks for the workers working in the various sites. A lot of young people were also helping during the digging process. Without community members’ willingness to participate, this project couldn’t have been successful.
Our water project took approximately three months to complete (March 2016 to mid-June 2016). I’m proud to say that, despite the many challenges we faced, such as transporting cement to remote locations, or organizing community members, this project was a success. Now, more than 5,300 people in 17 different communities have access to clean and potable water, and girls can now dedicate more time studying instead of traveling long distances to fetch water for their families. Many people, especially young children, don’t have to get sick because of the scarcity of obtaining clean water. Some women can now engage in income-generating activity because of a reliable water source. All these are made possible because of the generous financial support made by Water Charity and National Peace Corps Association.
To date National Peace Corps Association and Water Charity partnership continue to be a leading source of funding for PCV and RPCV projects both in water and sanitation as well as Let Girls Learn grants. Our role to the Peace Corps community is to help PCVs and RPCVs like Mokube better serve their communities and provide the expertise, guidance and training needed to complete these projects. Thank you Mokube for sharing your story!