KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the spirit of volunteerism is critical to nation building and must be encouraged across all sectors of society.
He was speaking on September 2 at the swearing-in ceremony for the 82nd batch of Peace Corps volunteers held at the United States (US) Embassy’s Old Hope Road headquarters in Kingston.
He stated that the Ministry is looking to establish a programme of volunteerism, similar to that of the US Peace Corps, which will target unattached young people.
“Probably one of our greatest challenges is to get our youngsters…into meaningful activities and so we intend to establish a programme of volunteerism that will become the institution that these youngsters can be attached to so that they can make their contribution to the society, that they can give… and feel fulfilled from giving,” he stated.
“We need to expose our own to the value of volunteerism, the value of serving their own communities and serving other persons overseas as well. It is extremely important for us to have our Jamaicans having an international perspective of the world,” Dr. Tufton added.
Approximately 28 Peace Corps volunteers are to be placed in education, environment and youth development sectors across the island. Mr. Holness encouraged the participants to give their all in the areas to which they have been assigned, noting that the experience will be rewarding.
US Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Pamela Bridgewater, in her remarks, noted that the volunteers serve as a reminder of the highly valued relationship between the two countries.
The volunteers, who will spend two years in Jamaica, have successfully completed nine and a half weeks of training, and are versed in the Jamaican culture, including language, food and mode of transportation.
The US Peace Corps was established in 1961 by John F. Kennedy and involves American men and women of all ages and ethnic groups serving in developing countries.
Since its inception, more than 182,000 persons have worked as volunteers in 138 countries around the world. In 1962, Jamaica was among eight countries to receive volunteers, with the first group of 36 men and women arriving in June. Over the last 49 years, more than 3,800 volunteers have served in Jamaica.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Editor