History of the Peace Corps in Chad
|History of the Peace Corps|
|Since 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries, more than 182,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 138 countries all over the globe.
The Peace Corps first sent Volunteers to Chad in 1966 and since then has provided many years of assistance in the areas of education, health, well construction, and forestry. In 1979, the Peace Corps withdrew from Chad because of a tenuous political situation and civil strife. During the hiatus, Chadians fondly remembered the assistance that the Peace Corps had provided and, as a result, invited Volunteers to return in 1987. The program was suspended again briefly in December 1990 because of a change in the government. The Peace Corps then resumed functioning in Chad with solid programming and strong collaboration with the government. Because of concerns over Volunteers’ safety, however, the program was suspended once again in 1998. Despite these suspensions, Volunteers created lasting bonds with Chadian communities throughout the country. Following an assessment in 2002, the Peace Corps restarted the Chad program in September 2003 when a group of 20 trainees began work on a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) project. On April 22, 2006, the program was officially suspended due to increasing instability throughout the country. The program remains closed.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Chad
Chadians recognize that education is an important means to help the country achieve its long-term goals. The Chadian education system is well established in cities and larger towns, where the availability of Chadian teachers is adequate. The situation differs in rural areas, where there is a great need for schools and qualified teachers of the English language. The government of Chad has requested that the Peace Corps send Volunteers to teach English in underserved (primarily rural) schools.
Volunteers teach English at the secondary school level, help Chadian teachers improve their English teaching skills and methods, participate in the development of English teaching materials for secondary schools, and strengthen the linkages between schools and communities.
After six to eight months of experience in the field, Volunteers are likely to branch out into sectors such as water and sanitation. The thousands of deep wells with mechanical hand pumps installed by a variety of organizations are in various states of disrepair. A goal of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources is to assess the number and location of these pumps and to determine the repairs or replacements and materials needed to bring them back into operation.
The government of Chad has identified maternal and child health as one of the other areas of critical need. The AIDS epidemic has led the government to shift Chad’s national health priorities, in particular to focus on difficulties facing women, who have long suffered from a lack of access to education and proper health care. With the help of outside donors, the government has developed a national health strategy and a national AIDS control strategic plan, which the World Bank is supporting with $41.5 million for a health sector support project and $24.6 million for a population and AIDS control project. The Peace Corps’ future involvement in the health sector will be undertaken in collaboration with Chadian government officials.