February 27, 2004 - Rockland Journal News: While at first concerned that she and other Peace Corps volunteers were being too quickly ushered out of Haiti, Megan Affrunti said she now supported the decision. "I think getting us out of there was a good idea," Affrunti said. "Doing it while everything was still peaceful, it was the right thing."

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Feb, 2004: Peace Corps evacuates Volunteers from Haiti: February 27, 2004 - Rockland Journal News: While at first concerned that she and other Peace Corps volunteers were being too quickly ushered out of Haiti, Megan Affrunti said she now supported the decision. "I think getting us out of there was a good idea," Affrunti said. "Doing it while everything was still peaceful, it was the right thing."

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-45-137.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.45.137) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 12:57 pm: Edit Post

While at first concerned that she and other Peace Corps volunteers were being too quickly ushered out of Haiti, Megan Affrunti said she now supported the decision. "I think getting us out of there was a good idea," Affrunti said. "Doing it while everything was still peaceful, it was the right thing."



While at first concerned that she and other Peace Corps volunteers were being too quickly ushered out of Haiti, Megan Affrunti said she now supported the decision. "I think getting us out of there was a good idea," Affrunti said. "Doing it while everything was still peaceful, it was the right thing."

Congers woman evacuated from Haiti

By LAURA INCALCATERRA
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 27, 2004)

A Congers woman hopes to return to Rockland next week after being evacuated from Haiti due to the growing threat of war.

Megan Affrunti and 77 colleagues, all members of the Peace Corps, were flown to Washington, D.C., after the organization evacuated them Saturday.

The sudden departure left Affrunti feeling out of sorts because she did not have a chance to offer final goodbyes.

"It was really traumatic," the 24-year-old Affrunti said by telephone from Washington yesterday. "I'd been living in my village for two years. I didn't really get a chance to say goodbye to people. I told most people I'd be back."

While at first concerned that she and other Peace Corps volunteers were being too quickly ushered out of Haiti, Affrunti said she now supported the decision. "I think getting us out of there was a good idea," Affrunti said. "Doing it while everything was still peaceful, it was the right thing."

She said she was concerned about the future of Haiti and its people. Affrunti said she considered many of her Haitian friends to be as close as family.

Affrunti said she was interested in exploring another culture when she decided to enter the Peace Corps after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she majored in anthropology and psychology.

"I wanted to do something different," Affrunti said. "I wanted to learn about another culture and how other people live because 80 percent of people live differently than we do in the United States."

The Peace Corps assigned her to Haiti, offering her training that included three months of Creole language classes. She was posted in Sautd'eau, a small village in Haiti's lower central plateau, high in the mountains. Affrunti said the remote village never experienced any political turmoil and she never felt she was in danger there.

Affrunti focused on HIV/AIDS education, including working with youth on prevention. She also worked with mothers and their malnourished children, helping to educate them about nutrition. The Clarkstown North High School graduate worked in village classrooms and sometimes walked five hours into the mountains to meet with people.

Her mother, Vicky Affrunti, said she was never concerned about her daughter's safety until learning about the sudden evacuation. She worried until her daughter called to say she was OK.

"When she first left, I decided I could bang my head against the wall a thousand times or I could make the sign of the cross," Vicky Affrunti said. "I did that and after that, I was at peace."

Vicky Affrunti works in the Rockland County Medical Examiner's Office. She and her husband, Philip, a general contractor, are also parents of Victoria, who attends the University of Colorado.

Megan Affrunti lived in a small house in Haiti and had to abandon most of her possessions after being ordered to evacuate by the Peace Corps. The organization requires its workers to live like the residents they serve.

She received a telephone call Feb. 17 from a Peace Corps worker who instructed her to pack her bags, get her passport and be in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, by 5 p.m. that day.

Affrunti and the other Peace Corps workers were bused to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on Feb. 20. They were flown to Miami and then to Washington, D.C., on Saturday and were debriefed.

Affrunti still had several weeks to serve in the Peace Corps, but the organization gave her the option of closing out her service early. She did so Wednesday and is no longer a member of the group.

She may one day sign up again, perhaps after she retires, Affrunti said.

"It was the most amazing experience of my life," Affrunti said. "I learned more in the Peace Corps in two years than I did in all of my schooling since I was 3 years old."

She will take some time to plot her future after returning to Rockland and said she hoped to continue working with the Haitian community.

Send e-mail to Laura Incalc




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Story Source: Rockland Journal News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Haiti; Safety and Security of Voslunteers

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