Two weeks ago we heard from Caron Alarab (Guinea 06-08), who gave us an early"heads up" on unfolding events in the West African nation of Guinea. She wrote:
"As you may have heard, the Peace Corps Guinea volunteers are currently being evacuated to Bamako, Mali, due to civil unrest in the country (a la my stage's evacuation in January 2007). They don't know how long they will be there, but I know their agony and frustration with being on hold and would like to write a first hand piece about evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers, the recurring problems in Guinea, and the crazy disintegration that is the closing of a Peace Corps program."
We agree she has a unique perspective and as we have just gotten official word
await official word** on the status of the Guinea program, we thought we would share her story with you.
The Power of G-EvacBy Caron Alarab (Guinea 2006-2008)
When I think back on my volunteer experience in Guinea, West Africa, one four-word phrase will always stand out: “We are being evacuated.”
In a way, most Peace Corps volunteers are lucky to have never heard this. The sadness of saying an unexpected good-bye, the stress of quickly packing, the fear of never seeing your site again, are all experiences that I would never wish upon another volunteer.
For the other 105 volunteers and I who were evacuated from Guinea following civil unrest in January 2007, the sadness, stress and fear didn’t stop at its borders. For weeks we waited at Toubani So, a training center just outside of Bamako, Mali, hoping strikes would cease and trying not to think of the worst case scenario: we can’t go back.
As downhearted volunteers bailed, older volunteers closed their service, and others busied themselves with a generous per diem, something unprecedented happened. Between casual cafeteria convos, chatty bus rides en ville, and heart-to-hearts among hut clusters, each of us connected with volunteers from different regions, different stages and different sectors. Cool coastal volunteers connected with hot desert dwellers, G8ers befriended G12ers, and agfo, health, small biz and ed swapped the craziest stories from their service. By the end of the month, it was like there was no agro-forestry sector, no Fouta region, no G9s or 10s,: there was just G-Evac....
**We have gotten early *unofficial* word today from the Friends of Guinea RPCV group, based on reports they have received, that Peace Corps's Guinea program has been suspended and that the Peace Corps Volunteers there are being evacuated.
Update: We have just gotten official confirmation from Peace Corps.