The End



The End
October 5, 2002

Death has occurred, yet blood still runs sluggishly through our veins. The loss of a single family member would be traumatizing enough, but we have lost entire families and communities of friends. They live on in their worlds, but we have been taken away - willingly for our safety, averse to our wishes. Although it was expected, the initial shock has not worn off and 140 of us wander aimlessly not knowing what to do within the next half hour, let alone the next few weeks or months. Someone threw us a curveball and we're all trying to figure out what to do with it.

Alex was the last volunteer to be evacuated from the Ivory Coast. She had been stranded in her village for over ten days after fighting broke out; lack of transportation prevented her safe and speedy evacuation. Eventually, after much tactful research and negotiation, she was helicoptered out by French troops. Less than a day after her safe arrival in Accra, Ghana to join the rest of us PCVs, a mandatory meeting was called for 7pm. Everyone had a sinking feeling the bomb was going to be dropped, but we still held a certain amount of hope and faith that we'd be able to return to Ivory Coast.

Crowded into a conference room, 140 of us sat impatiently before she read the letter over a microphone. It was so official and long and detailed. The bombing didn't stop after a simple and final sentence - it went on and on and I never wanted time to stop so badly in my life. I had to look up at the ceiling and the chandeliers of our fancy hotel to escape the emotionally succumbed volunteers in the room. Eyes started to water, faces turned red, mouths began to tremble, and then the letter was finished. Emotions could not be escaped and tears flowed freely and with acceptance. Immediately, a paper chart was presented to us with the next few steps of the process. This was the end and there was no way to veto the decision.

So the process starts and 140 people suddenly have a new course in life to chart. Good things will come of this: lessons learned, skills resurfaced, strength renewed. But a major loss overshadows all and loose ends dangle in front of our futures like a partly obstructed doorway. We will move on, but not without sadness.

"When I hear somebody sigh, 'Life is hard,' I am always tempted to ask, 'Compared to what?'' -Sydney Harris