- File Size: 784 KB
- Print Length: 172 pages
- Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (January 31, 2013)
- Publication Date: January 31, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00B9INVGC
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,918 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Volunteers in the African Bush: Memoirs from Sierra Leone Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
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These words were so eloquently spoken by John F. Kennedy in 1961 in his inaugural address and it was those words that sent so many Peace Corp Volunteers around the world to spread peace, goodwill and to do good for others.
In this book, Volunteers in the African Bush, Memoirs from Sierre Leone, edited by David Read Barker, you will share in the personal stories of twenty five of these volunteers as they leave a world of comfort and familiarity to a world very different from anything they have known. These experiences took place between 1965-1967.
You will read of their triumphs, as well as their shortcomings as many times they felt ill-prepared for the job at hand. Suddenly the simplest things such as diet, cleanliness, using the bathroom, or traveling from one point to another became an all out challenge while learning to communicate in a new language and working with the locals towards a common goal. Supplies were short and they learned to make do. Schools were constructed, wells were installed and bridges built. Better agricultural methods were taught yet not always embraced and there was the ongoing quest for safe drinking water. Nutrition programs were set up and the locals would come to the volunteers seeking medical treatment.
Through these well written accounts, you will feel the joy, frustration, fear, sadness, love, anger, hopelessness as well as hope. You may even shed a few tears and in another few pages, laugh out loud at the experiences these brave and adventurous volunteers have to share. It is not surprising that many speak of how those years changed their lives forever.
I highly recommend the book for all former volunteers and for anyone interested in what it is like to live in a very different culture.
These are the stories of the very first groups of Peace Corp Volunteers - mostly idealistic college students - inspired by JFK to go out and make the world a better place. So they were also Peace Corp pioneers, eager and willing to give up the soft life in America for who knows what? At the very least, two years of living among the poorest people in the world, under the harshest of conditions.
I never in a million years would have done something like that. But that's what makes for good reading, doesn't it?
The PCVs were not well trained for the challenges they faced and often barely spoke the languages of the various places in which they were basically dumped. So to me, their stories are of courage and bravery. But they don't even mention things like that. Whether building a bridge, repairing a well, or ridding the outhouse of a snake in the middle of the night, their attitudes seemed to be, "Well, I've never done anything quite like this before, but I'll figure something out..." And in spite of how ill prepared they were, they did - with very few complaints, I might add. (Having beer and good buddies helped.)
The essays are amusing, sad, interesting, and inspirational; another nice dimension is that they were written by people now in their 60s and 70s about experiences they had more than 40 years ago. So in addition to the wide-eyed innocence of that time, there's a lot of reflection and wisdom, too. As one PCV said, "...we gained an invaluable perspective...I now think living in a third world country should be mandatory for U.S. citizens before they are permitted to vote in the U.S."
In fact, a common theme is what a life-changing experience it was for each of them. I actually wanted to hear more about that; perhaps there's a Volume II coming.
After finishing the book, I was curious about what the Peace Corps is up to these days ([...]) and found that they're still at it. So it appears that they, too, have figured some things out. And although today's PCVs may not be as innocent as those first groups, you can be sure it will be a life-changing experience for them - and maybe for the people they are going off to help as well.