Peace Corps Days in Sierra Leone by Lisa Walker

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Sierra Leone: Peace Corps Sierra Leone : Peace Corps in Sierra Leone: Peace Corps Days in Sierra Leone by Lisa Walker

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 8:40 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Days in Sierra Leone by Lisa Walker

Peace Corps Days in Sierra Leone by Lisa Walker

Peace Corps Days in Sierra Leone
by Lisa Walker

I still do not understand who was running the show, or what they did or even what the Peace Corps actually was, apart from an enlightened excuse for sending us to poor countries. Those countries are still poor. We were the ones who were enriched, and sometimes I think that we remind those people -- as if they needed such a thing -- that they were being left out. We stayed a while, and then we left them. And yet I think I would do it again. At an uncertain time in my life I joined. And up to a point -- they gave me a lot of rope -- the Peace Corps allowed me to be myself. I realized that it was much better to be neglected than manipulated, and I had learned that you make your own life.

-- Paul Theroux, "When the Peace Corps Was Young," New York Times, Commentary, 1986

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa from 1985 through 1986, almost twenty-five years after Paul Theroux was a volunteer. I took few pictures, but wrote lengthy letters, which I present here as vignettes of my life and of those I observed around me.

This is a complete chronicle of one Peace Corps Volunteer's experience and also the story of a volunteer who early terminated, which is Peace Corps jargon for leaving before completing the two year commitment. The vignettes are about the people of Sierra Leone and their environment, the Peace Corps lifestyle, the situation in a country that five years later collapsed into civil war, and the rewards and frustrations of cross-cultural experiences.

You can start the story with my official assignment and training or with my Sierra Leone experience. You will find links to journal entries at the end of many of the vignettes, which will always take you to the next letter in the series. The vignettes are in chronological order, and indices of the vignettes allow you to explore the site freely to sample my experiences over time.
Official Assignment Beginning the
Sierra Leone Experience Indices Map

To send me mail: Lisa Walker
Key Related Sites:
The Sierra Leone Web: For links to Sierra Leone news, web sites, and other information.
Sierra Leone Facts: For facts on Sierra Leone, including a map.
Peace Corps Crossroads: For links of interest to Returned PCV's and anybody else who wants to know about Peace Corps volunteers and their experiences.

I dedicate this site to the students of Edison High School/Fareira Skills Center whose energy and eagerness to learn has inspired this work.

I also dedicate the site to Dad from whom I got the courageous spirit to go to Sierra Leone and the moral seriousness to return to the United States, to Donna without whose encouragement to express myself and interest in my experiences the letters and journals might not exist, and to Jean Walker, my grandmother, who made this project possible by typing my letters as they arrived and whose belief that a woman can be different than society expects has undoubtedly influenced me.
Web Counter = visitors since July 29, 1996.

Peace Corps Volunteers

I will be immersed in two different cultures while here, that of Sierra Leoneons and that of Peace Corps Volunteers. So far, I have had much more contact with the latter. My impressions of PCVs are that they are inexperienced, but gaining experience. Though responsible, they are not yet forceful, and though filled with good intentions, they are just learning to act on them. Their heads are filled with goals, but they have only a vague understanding of the steps to reach them. They could be more effective if older, but their youth carries them smiling over the bumps and through the ruts. They are flexible, and they bend and twist with relative comfort in this world that bounces, bucks, and pokes them. After many mediocre and bad rides here, they begin to look thoughtful. They become intent upon controlling the ride instead of letting the ride control them. They gain a little experience, adapt accordingly, and then go home.(October 8, 1985)

Design Palm Wine

To index

By Anonymous ( - on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 12:05 am: Edit Post

I was a little boy in the 80s when Peace Corps Volunteers were at my school, Sewafe Secondary school, Kono District. Though I was a small boy, I could still recall a particular name called Gary Stewart. He was tall and an extreme gentleman.
I would appreciate it very much if your office could tell me more about this man who provided our community with a well standard water tap which millions have enjoyed from.
I wish I could hear about this volunteer.

By Anonymous ( on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 10:32 am: Edit Post

i think sierra leone has every we needed, but there are wicked people in the country that why the country is not going futher. there on peace no unity and no love .

By John Berry ( - on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 12:15 pm: Edit Post

I was a CUSO volunteer in Sierra Leone 1977-80. I shared a house with the above mentioned Gary Stewart. You can learn everything about Gary by simply typing "Gary Stewart Sewafe" into a search engine.

By Lisa Walker ( on Monday, November 23, 2009 - 6:26 pm: Edit Post

I'm Lisa Walker and I have no idea who started this message thread. It wasn't me. I created the Peace Corps days website almost 15 years ago. It was archived, or at least much of it was, by the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive. I wasn't aware of this until my husband discovered it. Careful what you put out there -- it might live on forever without you knowing it. If you are interested in reading more Peace Corps days, here's the link to the material -- it may not all be intact, but it looks to me as if much of it is: /edison/office/lisa/index.html

By mohamed bangura ( on Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 8:22 am: Edit Post

Hi John Berry. It was nice to read your message. I wonder whether you will remember me . I was one of your students(form 4- 5). Thanks for your hard work during your days in Sewafe.

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.