A few days ago Adam Meier, Group Leader for RPCVs of China, sent a message to other group leaders in the NPCA network with the sad news that Zhan Yimei--a Chinese staff member who has been the "glue" for Peace Corps China for the past 14+ years--has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Writes Adam, "Miss Zhan has worked closely with every single Peace Corps group and every single volunteer since Peace Corps first began in China back in 1993. Therefore it is no surprise that our returned volunteers have rallied to her support in her time of need. She has had a trial of a drug that had a dramatically positive effect on her CT scan findings, and we are hopeful that she will be accepted into a drug study that would provide the drug for free if she gets in the treatment group and not the placebo group. Even so, there is a heavy financial burden that would fall on her, as she is insured locally through the Sichuanese university."
To many in the Peace Corps community, the host country nationals who work for Peace Corps are the unsung heroes of the Peace Corps enterprise. Year after year they welcome clueless Americans, teach them the ins and outs of the local culture, and support them in their assignments. They become friends, mentors, family. They are the the welcoming face when a dust-covered volunteer shows up at the Peace Corps office after an 8-hour ride in the back of a truck. In The Gambia, where I served, Peace Corps Medical Officer Barbara Kah was revered by generations of volunteers. Likewise APCD Admin Tony N'Jie had seen and heard it all during the course of his long career. We all have our Zhan Yimeis.
Adam's group has been collecting money on Miss Zhan's behalf through our network of returned volunteers, and there has already been an outpouring of support. China RPCVs would love and welcome the support of other RPCVs. Their treasurer, Erin Hillman, is collecting checks made out to her, and will wire the money in one sum to an account in China that has been set up by a former Peace Corps China Director. Erin's address is:
1548 Terrace Drive
Ambler, PA 19002
Adam asks that people write "Fund for Zhan Yimei" in the memo line; include your country of service so they can keep track of other country groups chipping in for this cause.
Says Adam, "Miss Zhan is a spirited, loyal, capable bundle of energy, and we are all pulling for her."