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The Peace Corps enjoys a rich history in Sierra Leone, having initially arrived in 1962 - just over a year after it had declared independence. Volunteers served the country in consecutive years until 1994, when the program was closed. Until that departure, 3,479 Volunteers had served in agriculture, education, and health.
Sierra Leone will welcome a new group of Volunteers in 2010. Education has been identified by the government as the most pressing need and Volunteers will provide English, math, and science teachers to help fill a shortage of qualified individuals. Peace Corps Response will also have a presence. Having already served as Volunteers, these contributors will arrive at their posts already in possession of the appropriate technical and cross-cultural skills needed to make an immediate impact.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone
The Peace Corps program in Sierra Leone began in January 1962 as one of the first countries entered after Peace Corps’ launch in March 1961. In fact, Peace Corps signed an agreement with the new government of Sierra Leone just nine months after the country became independent from the United Kingdom.
The first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to arrive in Sierra Leone were 37 secondary school teachers in January 1962. They were joined by another 70 Volunteers in August 1962. For much of the 1960s, PC/Sierra Leone (SL) concentrated on education, with Volunteers involved in teaching at many levels and throughout the country. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s PC/SL branched out into the sectors of agriculture, community development, design-construction manpower development, and health.
In the early 1990s political turmoil and civil unrest in the region engulfed Sierra Leone and Peace Corps was forced to evacuate its 82 Volunteers as a result of a bloodless coup d’état that took place in Freetown on April 29, 1992. In July 1992 Peace Corps staff returned to reopen the program, with 15 former Volunteers; another 11 new agriculture trainees arrived in August 1992. Projects in Health, Education and Agriculture were re-established in areas not immediately affected by the civil conflict, but growing violence soon made it difficult for Peace Corps to continue. Following the evacuation of the remaining Volunteers, the program was finally closed in October 1994. More than 5,900 Volunteers served in Sierra Leone up until this closure.
Peace Corps conducted a partial assessment in 2001, hoping to utilize Peace Corps Response Volunteers. Agency finances did not allow a return, but full assessments were conducted in 2003 and 2007, both recommending that the security situation in-country was conducive to Peace Corps’ return and that there was a tremendous need for, and goodwill toward, the Peace Corps. With the availability of funding in 2009, the agency made the decision to re-enter Sierra Leone with a group of 40 Volunteers.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Before Volunteers arrive, Peace Corps/Sierra Leone staff, in collaboration with local partners, identify safe and secureVolunteer housing. Housing is provided by the school and/or community. Housing is in short supply in many regions of Sierra Leone, so be prepared for very basic housing. It is possible that you will share a house with another PCV, have your own house, or live with a host family. Electricity may not be available and water may need to be carried from a neighborhood pump. You must be prepared to accept the living conditions to which you are assigned as you will be living under the same conditions as the people with, and for whom, you work. Peace Corps inspects all potential housing to ensure it meets our standards for health and safety.
Most Volunteers are assigned to work in rural towns or large villages. The workplace will be within walking distance of your home, but it might be a long walk! Dependent on community need, Peace Corps makes every effort to cluster Volunteers within reasonable distances of each other in order to promote collaborative efforts and minimize isolation.
Main article: Training in Sierra Leone
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( As of Thursday December 5, 2013 )