Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2002 00:41:41 -0700 (PDT) 
From: Blair Whisenhunt

September 30,2002 


Our debriefings are minimal to nonexistent, only shedding light on the next few hours - where to meet for dinner, when to get on the bus. Our lives lived activity to activity not knowing what tomorrow will bring. We sit in front of TV's in our hotel rooms in Ghana watching reports around the clock. "Deteriorating situation" and "Potential bloodbath" are words that stab us in the heart and leave our mouths dry as cotton. Lying in bed in the middle of the night, I ask my roommate if she's awake and she replies with a tearful and frustrating "yes". 

How can we think of anything other than the safety and fate of our family and friends in our villages?  Will I ever see my journals, letters, and photos again? Will I see the fruits of labor in our newly planted garden? Will our water tower's construction be interrupted? Will our literacy classes ever get off the ground with my absence? Will my village be a target of the rebels due to its majority foreign population? I left on a journey to Niger in mid-September to witness as annual festival in the Sahara desert. 

Due to Tuareg tribal fighting there, we were prohibited by the US Embassy and Peace Corps from going further north than Niger's capital. The last thing I said to my neighbors in the village was "See you in a few weeks!" There were so many loose ends left untied. Armed with a conservative amount of desert-ready clothes and basic toiletries, I will probably leave Africa with what is on my back. And what will I go to? Within weeks, our lives will be completely different. We're being uprooted with almost no preparation. 

Fighting back tears, I try not to imagine all the celebrations missed, projects left unfinished, and farewells unbid. On this bus, as we're evacuated to Accra, Ghana, I try to soak up the scenery and take advantage of experiencing a new culture and country. The trees along the roadside become a blur as my eyes become watery and I try to suppress any sad feeling s with the sound of the ocean waves breaking, but it's harder than running a marathon. 

All the Volunteers sport shocked or travel weary faces, only concerned about getting a good night's rest rather than the fate of their future. It's hard, if not impossible, to dampen thoughts of the village. I can still feel Barkesa's sticky fingers grabbing my legs wanting candy, Keyetou's hands braiding my hair, the warm smiles greeting me at the break of day. I know I am lucky to have had 16 months of amazing memories to carry with me forever; I only wish I had 16 more.

"One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one." Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976), Autobiography (1977