Ladies and gentlemen good afternoon.
Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr stated that, “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”
I believe that the men and women of the United States Peace Corps are volunteers who personify the heart and soul of which Dr. King spoke. It is a credit to their educational background and the pre-service training and leadership development Peace Corps volunteers receive, that their subjects and verb do agree.
Lady Allen and I are pleased to share in this celebration of the fiftieth Anniversary of the Peace Corps. Jamaica was among the first countries to receive Peace Corps volunteers in 1962 and their contribution to the country has grown steadily over the years. Focus areas such as literacy, environment, agro-forestry, health and more recently small business development, have been of tremendous contribution to our growth and development, especially in rural communities.
Over three thousand Peace Corps volunteers have served in Jamaica since the first batch of volunteers arrived in 1962. As a youngster in elementary school, I remember having a Peace Corps volunteer at my school.
There are many inspiring ways in which the Peace Corps has made a difference in Jamaica and around the world (I see them whenever I visit the rural areas…….)
From an idea birth in the hearts and minds of students at the University of Michigan by Senator John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has responded to many issue in an ever changing world. Volunteers have confronted many challenges in villages, towns and cities all over the world, leaving a legacy of peace and hope in each instance. The fact that the organisation has survived many challenges in its fifty year history is a testimony of the resilience of volunteers and the significance of your programmes.
I congratulate you on this milestone achievement and proudly celebrate this anniversary with you.