Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-Ordinary of the Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the US, who was on hand to receive
members of the congregation elated in a celebratory and jubilant spirit
saluted and welcomed the volunteers by congratulating them all on the 50th
Anniversary of the start of the Peace Corps Program on behalf of the
government of Ethiopia and on his own behalf.
Ambassador Girma in his speech reminisced that Ethiopia was one of the
pioneering countries to invite Peace Corps to begin its program in1962, just
one year after the Peace Corps program took off and recounted by saying that
there are many Ethiopians who remember those programs and the Peace Corps
volunteers associated with them with fond memories.
Peace Corps Volunteers continuously served in Ethiopia until 1977 when the
military dictatorship in Ethiopia had interrupted the program which resumed
again in 1995, bringing back its distinguishing feature of enhancing
people-to-people friendship, he reiterated.
Ambassador recalled that since 1962, a total of 3085 Peace Corps Volunteers
have served to-date in Ethiopia, including those volunteers who served in
Eritrea when it was part of our country.
He emphasized that currently there are 101 Peace Corps volunteers working in
partnership with the people and Government of Ethiopia, in line with the
U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which is an
important aspect of partnership between our two countries.
Citing as a remarkable achievement and ample testimony to the contribution
of the men and women who have taken part in the project during the past
Forty Nine years in Ethiopia, Ambassador Girma praised them all for
educating tens of thousands of young Ethiopians who later became
entrepreneurs, educators, engineers, government leaders, and diplomats
making a difference in extending their share of professional support to the
development effort of the nation.
He seized upon the auspicious occasion and extended his profound thanks for
the invaluable service to "our people and our country" and that "the people
of Ethiopia are truly grateful for your noble contribution" he added.
the former Peace Corps Volunteers about the gigantic progress Ethiopia is
making at present, Ambassador Girma briefed the audience by especially
referring to the social sector.
He pin-pointed to the strides made in the realm of education that "Primary
education coverage is now close to 95%, with 22 public universities built in
the last 20 years and other ten more universities are now being built.
He underlined that at present the student population stands at a staggering
twenty million, or one-fourth of the nation's population.
The Ambassador made a passionate call on the volunteers to support Ethiopian
universities by helping create partnerships with US counterparts and support
the initiative for the establishment and strengthening of an Ethio-American
He urged the volunteers to register by joining as members or supporters in
the effort and expressed his firm belief that Peace Corps Volunteers, are
best positioned to continue to help promote the cordial relationship between
the peoples of Ethiopia and the U.S.A.
Ms. Marian Haley, President of Ethiopia and Eritrea Returned Peace Corps
Volunteers, and chief organizer of the event expressed in the name of those
who served in Ethiopia by saying that "'We truly love Ethiopia and its warm
and friendly people".
"We are bound to the nation and its great people where and among whom we
grew and experienced the real challenges of life. She made a pledge by
saying, "We will always offer our support where ever it is needed."
was graced by hosting a traditional coffee ceremony accompanied by the scent
and aroma of incense undertaken by Ms. Ladena Schnapper, a former Peace
Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia.
Cultural and traditional songs played by the renowned vocalist and Masinko
player, another former Peace Corps Volunteer, Charles Sutton who was a
member of Orchestra Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa in the 1960's gave an added
dimension to the occasion by igniting memories of the Peace Corps Volunteers
during their service in Ethiopia in their prime ages.