Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The end

Yesterday we got some terrible news. Because of classified security reasons, Peace Corps will be suspending the Mauritania program indefinitely. What that basically means is it will be off-limits to all PCVs for at least 3 months, and we have several options. I'm not sure exactly what they are yet, since I'm in France and getting all of this info through phone calls and texts, but what I do know is that Peace Corps will fly me home from France on the 18th. What happens next is up in the air. I'm really, really hoping to finish my service in another country (Senegal, Mali and Niger all really want us because they know how badass we are), but that depends on a lot of factors (timing, placement, if John and I could be together, etc). I should know within a few days--we all need to decide by Friday. Needless to say there has been a lot of heartbreak and a lot of tears.

I want to say that I have nothing but thanks and warm thoughts for the staff of PC RIM. They have gotten us through so much in the last few months, and I don't envy what they've had to deal with. They have been so accessible to us and so kind, and I hope they all know how much that means to us. They love this country and this program, and I know we're all together in hoping that this is not the permanent end for PC RIM. I've also heard that the director of Peace Corps flew to Senegal to tell the volunteers in person, and I know that was deeply appreciated.

Also, please, please don't think of this as a reflection of Mauritanians. They are some of the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever met, and the vast majority want us there and have taken excellent care of us for the past year. (and only in RIM would a suicide bomber only kill himself and mildly wound 2 others while not even doing damage to the building). I respect and understand Peace Corps' decision, but the giant sandbox of a country that I have come to love is so much more than the problems we read about in the news.

I'll keep this updated as I figure out what I'm doing, but to any RIM PCVs who might be bored enough to read this, it has been so wonderful serving with you. I love you guys. And (more likely) if the families of my friends and sitemates read this, thank you for giving me the chance to know your children. They are fabulous. My wonderful regionmates Shelby, Sari, Tabatha (who will forever be Tako Guy) and Tim, as well as Kim, Morgan, Sam and Levin, made the last 13 months a wonderful time for me.

Alright, enough shmultz for now. John and I are, despite a 7 hour time difference between here and Iowa, working on our plans, so I'll let everyone at home know where I'll be and for how long as soon as possible. For now, I have to make the most difficult phone call of my life to my Mauritanian family and try to figure out how to get my dog.


Laura said...

Emily- I'm so sorry to hear this. It's just devastating. You were doing such good work in RIM,and are so deeply committed. And to have to leave without being able to say goodbye- I can't imagine how hard that phone call must have been.
We, of course, will be so glad to see you and hug you and tell you face-to-face how proud of you we are. But it just seems so wrong.
much love,
the Barr-O'Leary family

Lea said...

Oh hon, I know I already said this, but I am so so sorry. It's awful to be so committed to and involved with something and not be able to feel like you've completed it, especially when the reasons are out of your hands and your control. Selfishly I'm thrilled to get to see you soon, but also really hoping that you are offered an alternative to just coming home. It won't be the same by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be something so I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed.