CUSOBOT volunteers come together to mark 50 years



Ottawans among group of international development volunteers celebrating milestone

OTTAWA – On July 6, some 140 Cuso International alumni will come together in Ottawa to celebrate their life-changing experience as volunteers in Botswana five decades ago. Their experience working as teachers, nurses, economists, business advisors, agriculturists, writers, potters and more during the ’70s and ’80s would go on to shape a generation of change-makers.

“Botswana was a young country when we arrived, which was shortly after its Independence. The opportunity to learn about another culture and to contribute to the development process at the local level had a huge impact upon on our lives, both personally and professionally,” says Allan Culham, Cuso alumnus and Special Advisor on Venezuela for Global Affairs Canada.

To mark 50 years since the beginning of the Botswana program, an enthusiastic group of alumni have been diligently planning a reunion, which has attracted alumni from all parts of Canada, the U.S. and even further afield. The event is an opportunity to reconnect and reflect on how their international volunteer experience affected their personal journeys. In attendance will be the Botswana High Commissioner to Canada, David Newman.

“These young Canadian volunteers had a front-row seat during Botswana’s rise to economic prosperity. They achieved what only grassroots level development could, proving instrumental to the country’s success,” says Glenn Mifflin, Cuso International CEO. “In the following half-century, Botswana became an international development success story.”

In the early 1960s, the young international development organization CUSO (the name was modified in 2011 to Cuso International) attracted energetic and committed Canadians, mostly recent university graduates, who wanted to change the world. In CUSO, they found a place to apply their skills.

“Being a Cuso Volunteer in Botswana in those years was a real privilege. The lessons we learned and the experiences that we gained have been with us wherever our subsequent paths have taken us. We will always be thankful to the people of Botswana for this opportunity,” says Culham.

“It’s remarkable that so many volunteers have such a strong connection over 50 years. This is a group of very special people and I am honoured to have them as part of the Cuso International family,” says Glenn Mifflin.

Cuso Botswana reunion activities take place at the Mill Street Brew Pub in Ottawa. The full program, as well as alumni bios and stories, is available here:


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Cuso International
Cuso International is a non-profit development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of highly skilled volunteers, collaborative partnerships and compassionate donors. Established in 1961, Cuso International is a registered charity in Canada and the United States. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

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