MINERVA BC NEWMAN
MANILA – The U.S. Peace Corps announced the return of American volunteers’ services to the Philippines by January 2023 after overseas volunteering services were suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn visited Manila and Cebu from October 24 to 28 to highlight the agency’s work with its local partners in support of Filipino communities. Spahn with U.S. Peace Corps Philippines Country Director Jenner Edelman and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson thanked the local partners at the U.S. Peace Corps 61st anniversary celebration in Manila.
“In January next year, 60 volunteers will arrive and work for two years at the invitation of host communities across Luzon and the Visayas in the project sectors of education, youth development and coastal resource management,” Spahn said during a joint press conference with Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) Executive Director Donald James Gawe.
Spahn added that this group will be one of the largest that the U.S. Peace Corps has organized since resuming overseas operations in March 2022. By September 2023, Spahn expects more than 120 volunteers to be working alongside community members in the Philippines.
Spahn also noted that the incoming American volunteers will be among the first to implement the agency’s new climate change initiative that will support over two million hours of volunteer and staff service and help identify and initiate strategies that can contribute to local governments’ climate adaptation plans.
“Pre-pandemic, the U.S. Peace Corps had the highest number of deployment and volunteer in-service in the Philippines. We are looking forward to welcoming the American Peace Corps volunteers back,” PNVSCA Executive Director Gawe said.
As one of the main partners in the international volunteer service program, the U.S. Peace Corps continued its efforts in strengthening its program to respond to the development priorities of the Philippine government toward achieving national and local socio-economic development, Gawe remarked.
During their meeting in Manila, Spahn and Gawe discussed their agencies’ shared priority of strengthening and mainstreaming national volunteerism as an essential aspect of development strategy.
In her visit to Cebu City and Naga City, Spahn met longtime Peace Corps partners Rare Philippines, My Refuge House, and Glory Reborn to exchange insights on their work during the pandemic and on climate change adaptation efforts.
She also met local health officials and visited two COVID-19 vaccination sites supported by the U.S. Peace Corps and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Peace Corps Philippines is the United States Government’s premier volunteer program in the Philippines. Since 1961, over 9,300 Peace Corps Volunteers have worked alongside Filipino community members in support of government and community development priorities.