2007.01.27: January 27, 2007: Headlines: COS - Guinea: Safety: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer writes: Camping, roughing it in a tiny village of Guinea has turned into car camping here in Mali

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guinea: Peace Corps Guinea : Peace Corps Guinea: Newest Stories: 2007.01.28: January 28, 2007: Headlines: COS - Guinea: COS - Mali: Safety: Peace corps Pressd Release: Peace Corps Volunteers in Guinea Are Safe: 2007.01.31: January 31, 2007: Headlines: COS - Guinea: Blogs - Guinea: Safety: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Cami writes: Is it an evacuation? A consolidation? A vacation? In Service Training? The world will never know, and Peace Corps volunteers and staff will call it all of the above. : 2007.01.27: January 27, 2007: Headlines: COS - Guinea: Safety: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer writes: Camping, roughing it in a tiny village of Guinea has turned into car camping here in Mali

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-245-26-66.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.245.26.66) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 3:49 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer writes: Camping, roughing it in a tiny village of Guinea has turned into car camping here in Mali

Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer writes: Camping, roughing it in a tiny village of Guinea has turned into car camping here in Mali

On Wednesday morning at 8 am, the radio was not working. I could not understand anything that was being said. I finally just tried to call in. A driver answered in a clear voice, ďIím on my way to pick up a couple of volunteers. You are next. Iíll be there soon.Ē The one voice I could hear was the one with the most important message. I got a boost of adrenaline as I pedaled hard the 5 km home even up the hill I usually walk believing that I would meet the Peace Corps car. I had assumed that I had at least one more day. My hair was only half-way braided. My things were spread upon the floor. I hadnít packed my perishables to give the family. My heart felt disarrayed just like my house and packing. I was ready to go very quickly though. My sac was ready with a few clothes, tolitries, meds, and things to entertain me like my journal, crochet, a CD player, and my running shoes. I packed an extra bag of food which could be left behind if there wasnít room. Then I waited. As I sat on my porch, surrounded by kids, they understood I was leaving, but none of us knew when I would be back. They kept me company singing and dancing. My heart was heavy. I couldnít leave my compound to say goodbye to my community. I told two key people who would inform the others, but it felt strange to just be one day carrying rocks with the community tot silently disappearing.

Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer writes: Camping, roughing it in a tiny village of Guinea has turned into car camping here in Mali

The day I arrived

Saturday 27 January

Camping, roughing it in a tiny village of Guinea has turned into car camping here in Mali. My lifestyle has turned luxurious: stable electricity, water that doesnít run out, huts with ceiling fans, internet, a dining hall that serves pizza, pancakes, and omelets, basketball courts and a football field, fancy international restaurants: Thai, Chinese, tex-mex and ice cream.

Am I on vacation?

For the past 3 weeks, I have not been teaching. I have been on standfast (told to stay put in my safe village) as the nation of Guinea has been striking for a regime and economic change.

Because Peace Corps has no way of contacting me, I rode my bike 5 km each day to a neighboring village to use the short-wave radio. Each day I got the boring message, ďEverything is calm here;Ē however, I knew protests were ending in deaths as I was informed by radio listening teachers. I knew the taxis from Labe were not coming to our market-day. The town was running out of cooking oil even when the price of 1 liter had doubled from 6000 FG to 12000 FG. Even though there were small hints that the nation was striking, in my village things were very peaceful and calm.

I was not hurting for anything. The local market ladies still had their tubars and tomatoes were also coming back into season. One of my students even walked 10 km to get me eggs.

On Tuesday, the PC message changed, ďPack a bag. We might be going to a training session in Bamako, Mali. Radio tomorrow morning for more information.Ē

On Wednesday morning at 8 am, the radio was not working. I could not understand anything that was being said. I finally just tried to call in. A driver answered in a clear voice, ďIím on my way to pick up a couple of volunteers. You are next. Iíll be there soon.Ē The one voice I could hear was the one with the most important message.

I got a boost of adrenaline as I pedaled hard the 5 km home even up the hill I usually walk believing that I would meet the Peace Corps car. I had assumed that I had at least one more day. My hair was only half-way braided. My things were spread upon the floor. I hadnít packed my perishables to give the family. My heart felt disarrayed just like my house and packing.

I was ready to go very quickly though. My sac was ready with a few clothes, tolitries, meds, and things to entertain me like my journal, crochet, a CD player, and my running shoes. I packed an extra bag of food which could be left behind if there wasnít room. Then I waited.

As I sat on my porch, surrounded by kids, they understood I was leaving, but none of us knew when I would be back. They kept me company singing and dancing. My heart was heavy. I couldnít leave my compound to say goodbye to my community. I told two key people who would inform the others, but it felt strange to just be one day carrying rocks with the community tot silently disappearing.

The Peace Corps SUV with the sideway facing seats picked me up, my next closest neighbors already packed in. As we speeded away, kicking up dust, my head and ass feeling the brut of the car, I was glad for my motherís Christmas package that had luckily arrived full of Dramamine. We were in a hurry not because of danger, but because we had 12 other people to pick-up. It was a LONG day! The ride got easier though as more were packed in. Since we were hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder we couldnít bounce as much, a solid unit keeping each of us securely weaved into our main seats.

Keeping to non-main bumpy roads, we arrived at a fellow volunteerís site by dark. They were cooking pasta for us having spent the whole day trying to find accommodations for around an estimated 24. The village, the most generous people gave us their best beds. The bus full of the other half o the volunteers didnít arrive till the next morning.

We packed the 25 passenger bus with 28 including a row dedicated to our luggage and picked up an additional 2 volunteers on our way to Kankan. We were six to a row for the 12 hour trip from the cool green Fouta region to the hot, dry dusty Haute Guinea region. It was an exciting way to see Guinea!

A group had already left the Peace Corps house in Kankan, Peace Corps regional capitol for Haute Guinea leaving an empty house for the fifty plus volunteers who would be arriving. We were the first to arrive. Around midnight around 24 others arrived. We filled the beds, the floor, the balcony, the cars trying to get a few hours of sleep before the 5 am departure time.

Fouta volunteers stayed one more day. Our passports were with a program director who was helping the other Fouta volunteers get to Mali. It was a welcomed rest to the 2 days of hard travel. We cooked, did laundry, went to the dead empty market. Our trip out of Guinea was like that empty market, uneventful. We saw absolutely no trouble, no road blocks, nothing. Many of us had stories of being in a quiet village during the challenging days of waiting in our villages, waiting for any news during standfast. Our trip was like our villages, quiet, unlike some of the stories I heard here in Mali from volunteers from some of the bigger cities where there were clashes between people and the military.

3 SUVís arrived with the last volunteers going to Mali by car and we headed off the next day at 5 am, through beautiful country, mesa-like landscapes. We had no trouble at the border, just sitting in our cars as a Peace Corps staff handled our transition from one country to the next. On the Mali side, a peace Corps Mali car met us and accompanied us to the PC training center.

Wow and what a training center it is! It is a huge compound. I can run around it on a leisurely 15 minutes. It is big enough to give us 100 plus volunteers space. Gathering 100 people who survive in the isolation of their villages, sometimes isnít easy on all of us who enjoy that solitude. It is like a small college campus. My education group are the freshmen, the most recent arrivals to Guinea, Group 12 (G12). G9 are the seniors who are about to graduate who were getting ready to leave in the next couple of months. We even have some grad students, volunteers from G3 and G7.

What next? We wait and see what happens in Guinea. We have a maximum of 4 weeks before we either go back to our Guinean villages, go back to the US, or get reassigned to a new country. We will keep busy with trainings, sport activities, projects, talent shows. We must or else face the symptoms of cabin fever, an unhealthy challenge for PC volunteers.

Peace Corps Guinea has been amazing. The staff ran a tight ship in a country were organization, order, schedules usually are put aside for flexibility. In this case the hard work of the chauffeurs, the program directions, the security officer, the office people, the medical staff, the country director, and the volunteers got us out in 4 days, an amazing feat! And now Peace Corps Mali has been extremely accommodating arranging the training site for our arrival organizing cultural events, safety and security sessions, and language classes.

It is amazing to feel the accomplishments of this Peace Corps community that I have become a part of.





Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: January, 2007; Peace Corps Guinea; Directory of Guinea RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Guinea RPCVs; Safety and Security of Volunteers





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