(Written Sept. 2) Terrible news. I found out a couple of days ago that the Peace Corps is evacuating all of the volunteers from Burkina Faso. I have to hold publication until this was made public. I'm broken hearted; I can only imagine how everyone there feels.
Due to a clerical error, I found out on Thursday, 8/31 that the Peace Corps is evacuating all of the volunteers from Burkina Faso. For their safety, they're not allowed to tell anyone, until everyone is safely out of the country. With the evacuation, they'll come back to the US. They can re-apply and serve somewhere else, but that's it for Burkina Faso, at least for now. Tragic, terrible news. Update: Here's the official Peace Corps announcement.
This happened just as everyone had finished pre-service training and had been sworn in. I'm not sure, but I think most or all of the volunteers had just arrived at site, or were on their way there. They spent part of June, and all of July and August in very tough conditions, training and learning multiple new languages, and putting their heart and soul into serving their country, and serving the people of Burkina Faso for two years. And then, suddenly, it was ripped away.
Correction, 9/9/17: It turns out that they didn't go to site. They went on lockdown in Léo immediately after swearing in. It was the G33 volunteers from last year who were at site, and had to be evacuated.
In a way, it was easier for me to let go. The moment I failed to move my
leg just after the accident, I knew it was serious, and my time in Burkina was
at an end. At the time, I had other things to think about, like the pain,
and saving my limb – when you're screaming at a crowd of people not to move
you until your leg can be immobilized, and you don't know when medial help is
coming, and you're in pain, your mind is pretty damn occupied. It was maybe
two days before I could think straight, and by then I had emotionally accepted
that I was coming home. Indeed, since then I kind of put Burkina to one
side – I knew everyone was in PST and super busy, and I certainly had my
hands full with recovery, so I kind of compartmentalized my time in Burkina.
My plan was to wait until my colleagues were at site, and had some free time, and then get back in touch.
The folks there now have no such distraction. Not that I recommend my experiences as a form of distraction, but even so. As I write this, they're all stuck in a hotel, waiting, with all the time in the world to think about their loss while the wound is still fresh. They're together, though, so there's that.
I'm so very sorry for everyone, and for our Burkinabè hosts. Even in my brief(er) time there, I came to love Burkina Faso and the Burkinabè, despite all the challenges and frustrations. My hat is off to all of you, who gave so much, and who were ready to give so much more over the course of two years. Burkinabè and Americans, you are some of the finest people it's ever been my privilege to know.
Bon courage. It was an honor.
Why did this happen?
Obviously, I don't know, and I won't say much on the matter. I will make a factual note, though. On August 31, Jane's 360 published this article about the situation in Burkina Faso. I archived the summary here, in PDF.
Goodbye for now, Burkina. We love you.