History of FOB

History

History of the US Peace Corps In Bangladesh

The first Peace Corps presence in Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan) began in October 1961 and ended in October 1965, with nine groups and about 150 volunteers having served in the country that was then East Pakistan. 

Political unrest and the hint of approaching troubles between India and Pakistan led both the US and Pakistan governments to decide not to request any more Peace Corps Volunteers.

In 1971 the country experienced a wrenching  war of liberation where more than 300,000 Bengali people are said to have died at the hands of the Pakistani army. In December of 1971, the freedom fighters, with the help of the Indian army, defeated the Pakistanis and Bangladesh was born as an independent country.

Over the next 30 years, the country struggled during periods of political unrest, with leaders and families assassinated, official corruption, and at the same time, trying to become viable as a country taking its place in the world of nations. 

Bangladesh is still shaking off its image as the "international basket case" that was applied in the early 70's by members of the world community. In fact, the country is now self-sufficient in food production, and is becoming known for textiles and finished goods in the export market.   

In early 1998, the Government of Bangladesh and the Peace Corps announced that the Peace Corps was returning to Bangladesh in January of 1999. 

We were excited about this development where the initial group of 20 volunteers  served as ESL (English as a second language) teachers. 

Since then, a second group was sworn in on May 6, 2000 and a third group began in Feb, 2001. However, at the end of 2001, the program was suspended and the volunteers were relocated, some chose early termination and others to chose to become part of programs in other countries. 

More information on groups and their individual stories will be found on the "Groups" page on this site.

Please contact the webmaster (who also serves as the coordinator of the FOB until someone else volunteers to do it), if you have any information on individuals or programs relating to the suspension.   

One of the purposes of this web page is to assist us in finding other individuals who served with the Peace Corps in Bangladesh so that we can reconnect with them and allow them to share in the information and discussions about Bangladesh.

To most of us, Bangladesh holds fond memories of a land bathed in beauty, of a proud and intelligent people working against all odds to create a nation and of a warmth of human spirit expressed one-to-one in a fashion that makes Bangladesh our second home.

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The following email FYI from Ellen Field of Peace Corps Office, Washigton:

From: Field, Ellen [EField@PeaceCorps.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 8:34 AM
To: 'Tom McMahon'
Subject: RE: Bangladesh Programs

Tom,

Thank you for your message. 

We have been forced to quietly suspend quite a few program in the last few months-three countries in Central Asia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea and others. 

When such an action occurs, we post a press release on our web site and sometimes AP picks us the story, sometimes not, unfortunately we have no control over what stories are carried by major newspapers.

We will be continuing with our safety and security assessments of the
situation in Bangladesh and when it is possible we have every intention of
re-opening the program there. 

I cannot predict when that might take place, so the best I can urge is for you to pull up the Peace Corps web site from time to time and check if we have re-opened Bangladesh. You can find us at www.peacecorps.gov. Current news is at the bottom of the screen.

Ellen Field
Director of Communications
Peace Corps
202.692.2118
202.692.2201 Fax

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Updated December 29, 2001