Shortly after returning to Peace Corps Nepal in June (after 6 weeks of evacuation), we began having health issues. Following several doctor consultations, Peace Corps decided to medically evacuate us stateside, where we could receive medical treatment from American doctors. We were both diagnosed with PTSD related to the earthquakes in Nepal.
Since returning to the states for therapy, additional physical medical problems have shown up. One of us had a Lymphoma cancer scare that eventually was determined to ‘not’ be cancer, but an “atypical infection” contracted during our time in Nepal. The other returned from Nepal with a dangerously high cholesterol level, thanks to a year of the basic Nepali diet of carbs and oil.
Currently, we are healing here in beautiful Nashville. Unfortunately, our health symptoms did not resolve by the end of Peace Corps’ medical evacuation limit (45 days). Therefore, Peace Corps medically separated both of us giving us a year to improve enough to be medically cleared and return to our service.
In the past two months, the Peace Corps Volunteers remaining in Nepal have experienced ‘stand fasts’ (an inability to leave their site) due to political demonstrations related to disagreements over the new constitution (over 40 people have been killed during the demonstrations), and are currently encountering a lack of and a cost increase for food, gas, and cooking fuel due to an unofficial Indian trade embargo and border protests. Since India borders Nepal on three sides and the two roads north to China were destroyed during the earthquakes, India is the only way for Nepal to get imports by road. After the April 25th earthquake, the hits keep coming to Nepal and Peace Corps’ Nepal program. Therefore, even if we were given a clean bill of health, we aren’t confident we could return to serve our beloved second home. Our current plan is to restart our Seattle lives soon, with the hope to one day, in the not so far future, work abroad again (after Vee finishes graduate school).
So… we were in The Peace Corps! Whoa, what an experience. It is an amazing organization. It leads to an amazingly gratifying and amazingly frustrating experience, with all the in-between adjectives peppered throughout. We put a lot into it, and found out that, as the cliché says, you do indeed, ‘get out of it what you put into it’. During our year in Nepal, Peace Corps gave us everything that we were wanting from service:
- We wanted to gain an understanding of what it is like to live as a minority
- We wanted to experience living in a different culture
- We wanted to learn another language
- We wanted to broaden our view of international relations
- We wanted to reach a practical comprehension of development and sustainability
- We wanted to travel
Before you run out to sign up for Peace Corps, please understand this was not a year of vacation. These experiences were not easily earned. It was a very difficult year filled with painful eye opening moments and realizations about our beliefs, our view of other cultures, our country, and ourselves. But, as with most challenging periods in life, we were irreversibly impacted.
We hope to be able to share more of our experiences with others in the future, and appreciate the support we’ve been given by the overlapping circle of family, friends, and the staff at Peace Corps. Our hearts go out to our Nepali families and current volunteers as they struggle with the situation over there. No matter what future adventures we find, know that all of you travel with us in our hearts.