In memory of...

Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
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19
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Trip End Mar 27, 2010


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Flag of Guinea  ,
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I have never written a blog so disillusioned or angry before.  The last four days have been a blur of tears and heartache.  Two wonderful Peace Corps volunteers, who happen to both be from my region and my sector (public health), have been unfairly medically separated.  I cannot divulge details due to medical confidentiality but know the decision was made rashly by those unfamiliar with the situation for reasons of liability.  Bureaucracy has no connection to the human aspect and therefore cannot understand the grave mistake it has made in sending Melissa and Katie home.  This blog is dedicated to them.
The first thing I remember about Mel is that she played euchre and loves it as much as me. That was our founding bond. A lot of Mid-Westerners have a strange obsession with the game of euchre and that was true for the both of us.  During stage I learned to love her for other reasons.  She was always up for anything and absolutely hilarious. New Year's Eve- won't go into details, but Mel you know. Going to the river and having a mud fight. Her nickname from home is Ass. I don't know why but it stuck here too. We were placed in the same region; not only that but the same sub-region, Lower Haute- the oxymorons.  When she would come to Kissi we would go shopping. She's so random and loves goofy t-shirts so she was always buying them and not actual things she needed. That's where I came in. I like lists and even better I like to cross things off lists. So she would make a list and while she was looking at Bob Marley belts I was getting her batteries, buckets, powdered milk, flour, etc. It was a symbiotic relationship that worked out well. She was always so chill about everything. We got lost in Conakry- no big deal. Waiting 8 hours for a taxi-relax, where else do we have to be? But she does not like spiders, actually she hates spiders which I found very contradictory for someone so laid back about everything else. It's quirks like that that really let you love a person. She was always singing songs I'd never heard and she is probably the best listener I've ever met.  She could just tell if you needed advice or if you just needed to talk. It is a special gift.
I was able to observe Mel in her village a couple times and she is Peace Corps. She went around greeting her village and singing songs in Malinke. She played cards with the men, cooked and ate rice with the women and played hand games with the kids. Her big deal was she wanted the kids to wear shoes.  She always would tell her neighbor children to go put on their shoes. When she came to say goodbye to her village, all the kids were wearing shoes. I'm so proud of you Melissa.
Katie and I were pretty much thrown together. The first couple weeks in country were hard.  When my closest friend and Katie's neighbor decided to leave it hit us both really hard.  We naturally became closer comforting each other after that loss only to find that we actually were kindred spirits.  We both did not enjoy rice and sauce. Packages were life-savers and we generously shared with each other.  Katie loves her music and she so on bus rides we'd sit next to each other and she'd lend me an earphone and we'd rock out to house music.  We both loved bureau nights where we'd go to the Peace Corps office in Forecariah at 8:00PM to just talk and be with other Americans. We got sick at the same time and were taken to Conakry together for a nice vacation from training.  But what I really love about Katie is that she's never afraid to say what's on her mind. She's frank. She asks uncomfortable questions that I might not want to answer but I feel better when I do because now we're closer. She made communication easy. She wasn't afraid to give hard advice, but good advice nonetheless.  And she really cares which makes it that much easier to swallow. She gives compliments liberally but genuinely. Sometimes people who give compliments can't take them. That wasn't Katie. She is a gracious taker of compliments as well.  She was always there to spoon and hold me when I cried and do anything in her power to make me feel better. And she never filled out paperwork on time which cracked me up, as I am completely anal about that sort of thing. It would never cross my mind to just not fill out paperwork that was given to me, but it didn't seem to bother her.  I love you Katie and I miss you.
Their dreams have been shattered but as they adjust back to life in America, new, bigger dreams will form. Katie and Melissa are strong, independent, fabulous women who will make something wonderful of themselves. It was a sad day for Peace Corps when they decided to send those two home. And Peace Corps Guinea will never be the same.  Though I blame almost no one on PC Guinea staff, trust has been broken and it will take a lot of effort and time to reforge the open communication and faith volunteers once had with their capital. 
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