“Have you seen the list?” Elizabeth beamed at me.
I had just gotten out of a mandatory therapy situation that was required of all volunteers during the evacuation conference in Morocco. The day prior, we applied for transfer locations but I truly expected not to receive one.
“You need to check the list.”
So, I did. And right next to her name was mine, under Namibia. Her, another volunteer and I would be transferring to Namibia to work as HIV/AIDs volunteers with a two-week stint in the U.S. before restarting our service.
In so many ways, this seemed like a perfect solution to being yanked out of Niger. I would continue on with Peace Corps in a new country, have some time at home and leave early enough so that I would be allowed to have vacation (there is a strict no-travel rule for the first six and last three months of service) and return home for my brother’s wedding. I called my mom and we both agreed this was the best and preferred outcome.
Then, that changed. Hours before boarding the plane to the U.S. I was told that I am not medically qualified for Namibia. During high school and early college, I sought treatment for an eating disorder and certain countries require volunteers to have no mental health history. Despite the issue is more than under control almost 10 years later and pleadings from my medical officer as well as the Moroccan medical officer , they wouldn’t budge. When they told me this new, they offered me a position in Senegal with an hour to think it over. In the end, I decided that I was not at a good emotional state to be a volunteer and decided to come home.
Eight months have passed and I am now less than two weeks from leaving for Lesotho. I still think about Niger, but not in the crushed, depressed way that I did in the earlier part of the year. I understand that I did need this time to recuperate, to heal. I needed my friends and family’s support. In Namibia or Senegal, I just be wanting to Niger, but now I have truly accepted that as part of my past and as something entirely different as my future.
Lesotho deserves a good volunteer and I couldn’t be that eight months ago. I can now and I intend to give it my all.