As a Returned Peace Corps Paraguay Volunteer (Agriculture), my heart reaches out to those who have been evacuated from their host countries, incredible communities, and relationships. It’s an emotional shock when you know your service is ending and have time to choose denial or to attempt to prepare yourself to leave a place you have come to know as home. Even through the adjustment period of drinking the water and waiting for your body to get over it, the giardia, parasites, scabies, and other miscellaneous bodily joys. I loved my service. I was close to my host family and still communicate with them often. I still cry each time our short staticky conversations end. I miss them dearly.
The morning I left, my mother threw herself down onto the red dirt and screamed in agony. As my father picked her up I boarded my bus sobbing myself blind. It’s a death, there’s a mourning process, certainly. Sure, maybe I would be able to visit…someday. But, I wouldn’t be the same and neither would they. Since then my father has died. We were so close, for a variety of life and death experiences we shared. I truly, deeply love my Paraguayan family.
I was a disaster when I arrived in the United States. I broke down in the bread aisle, overwhelmed by so many choices. I ran out of Safeway and cried. The yogurt and cereal aisles delivered similar experiences. I cried in bed for days on end until I didn’t cry anymore. I moved to Guatemala to work for a non-profit in Guatemala City and eventually started the MFA program at the University of Arizona where I was a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow.
I specialize in helping people through transitions offering a cosmic perspective. Part of my Souls Mission is to understand transitions and work comfortably in liminal space. I am a Being that wholeheartedly embraces the beauty and pure potential of the unknown. Even with that kind of awareness, I was still a mess when I closed my service. And I knew it was coming. To say that the Volunteers that have been evacuated are “experiencing an emotional shock or trauma” is an understatement, to say the least. Evacuating 7,400 Volunteers is a logistical nightmare. When you consider the limited transportation and rural areas people are serving in, the mental gymnastics required to mass evacuate everyone safely is almost unfathomable. Many Volunteers were given less than 24-hours notice to leave their site, to leave their home. I am certain that many left relationships behind. There was a fistful of Volunteers in my group who married Paraguayans or other Volunteers and went on to make beautiful Peace Corps babies.
This will be an extremely emotional and draining time for those who have been evacuated. What happens when you are evacuated from a Volunteer position? Unemployment isn’t available to you. Your post-Peace Corps service plans have come undone. It is A LOT to take in.
If you are reading this and if you or your friend/family were just evacuated due to COVID-19, please give yourself/them a lot of love and compassion, right now.
I am offering free 90 min Star Sessions for those Volunteers who resonate with my work. You will know if I am right for you once you visit my website. We Peace Corps people are always a family. We are really GREAT at networking in lightening speed. Please, share this with your Returned (evacuated) Peace Corps Volunteer Friends.
In Love and Starlight,