Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ebola Announcement

Wednesday, July 30, I was visiting with a Peace Corps friend after a day of sessions and we were busy discussing what we were thinking about doing after returning to the States next year.  I received a phone call from Devin, another PC friend, saying we had a meeting at Doe Palace and we needed to come ASAP.  I figured it was our daily PCV debrief meeting, as was normal after a day of observing things at model school.  We leisurely made our way to the meeting, and upon arriving, I noticed how full (and somber) the place was.

Devin met us at the door and asked if we had just gotten there.  I said yes, and he informed me that as of 1:00 pm that afternoon, Peace Corps decided to temporarily remove all Volunteers and trainees from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea due to dangers of the Ebola virus.  Our Program and Training Manager had called this meeting to inform us of the decision and to update us on the happenings of the next few days. 

Emotions were high, and I was not sure of how to react.  My immediate reaction was sadness and tears.  To find out this information and to subsequently find out that in a week or less I would be leaving this country I called home for 14 months was impossible to comprehend.  How will I cope returning home?  How will I explain my leaving to my community when Ebola is not present there?  How will I return to Pleebo to say goodbye to all those I love?  And most importantly, when will I come back to Liberia?

The atmosphere was tense that night at Doe Palace, and emotions were all over the place.  LR 3 Volunteers were feeling much differently than LR 4 Volunteers; trainees were in a different place all together; and the staff was feeling distraught and lost, I think.  No one knew when we were specifically leaving – the only information we had was that we were leaving within a week and arrangements were currently being made with airlines through the DC office. 

That night, I informed my family back home, called Sarah to tell her the news in Pleebo, and broke the news to my host family with my LR5 homestay sister.  With tears, hugs, and confusion, we explained the situation as best we could to them and hoped for the best.  After all, what else could we do but pray?  It was in God’s hands now. 

[Since this post was written, I found out that Peace Corps will not be returning Volunteers to Liberia or Sierra Leone and all current Volunteers will go through their Close of Service.  This is due to a lack of medical resources, staff, and education surrounding Ebola in these countries; thankfully, this is something the worldwide community has been working hard to improve on in the last few days.  My future is up-in-the-air for now, but Liberia will always be in my heart and on my mind.]

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