00:03

Hello, my name is Paula Ospina,

00:06

and I am currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.

00:10

I have been here since May 2018,

00:13

and I was supposed to end my service next month, April 2020.

00:18

There was a message sent out that all the Peace Corps

00:22

volunteers are being medically evacuated

00:25

until further notice, and that they will reopen

00:29

once the coronavirus has stopped or things have slowed down.

00:33

We found out about the evacuation on Sunday,

00:37

and today it is Tuesday.

00:40

We were told to stay in our villages,

00:42

start packing our bags, and just be ready

00:44

to go whenever that time comes.

00:46

It is not the way I expected my service to end.

00:51

I know that I only had a month left.

00:53

Other volunteers are still going

00:55

through the training process.

00:57

Other volunteers have only been here for a year

01:01

and are just starting to get in the swing of things

01:04

and are starting to get work off the ground.

01:06

So it is a very hard time for a lot of volunteers.

01:17

[Falilou] Hey, Maria?

01:21

[Falilou] Yes, this is Falilou, the CED APCD.

01:23

Oh, hi, hi, how are you?

01:25

[Falilou] I am good, and you?

01:27

Good, currently in my hut.

01:30

[Falilou] Yes, so, I am calling you

01:33

to give you specific instructions

01:35

in regards to your evacuation.

01:39

[Falilou] So if you can get to the Hotel Hobbe

01:41

tomorrow, Wednesday, that is your consolidation point.

01:47

[Falilou] So don’t leave anything behind,

01:49

and take all of your personal belongings.

01:51

Don’t leave everything behind,

01:52

take all my personal belongings.

01:55

At what time are we leaving on Thursday to Thies?

01:58

[Falilou] Yes, you will be leaving on Thursday to Thies,

02:01

but I don’t know when exactly.

02:05

It is Wednesday, March 18th.

02:09

I’m waking up, finishing packing,

02:11

and then I’m gonna go outside and start saying goodbye

02:13

to my village and my family.

02:17

I should be heading out into Kolda

02:19

to be consolidated with other volunteers around noon.

02:26

[speaking in foreign language]

02:30

[speaking in foreign language]

02:35

[speaking in foreign language]

02:39

[speaking in foreign language]

02:41

[speaking in foreign language]

02:47

[speaking in foreign language]

02:48

[speaking in foreign language]

02:50

[speaking in foreign language]

02:53

[speaking in foreign language]

02:59

[Paula] We are going to our original capital

03:01

in Kolda, and then we will be heading

03:04

the next day on a bus to another

03:07

region called Thies, which is about 10 to 12 hours away.

03:10

[steady, percussive music]

03:18

Good Friday morning to everyone.

03:20

Today is a beautiful day, the sun is out,

03:25

and you are all going home today.

03:33

[Woman] We’re going home today!

03:35

Everybody’s going home today!

03:38

It has not been easy.

03:41

As you probably are aware, the situation globally

03:45

has gotten pretty difficult.

03:48

The situation here in Senegal is still

03:52

as not as difficult as it is in some places.

03:55

We’re up to 38 in Senegal, the last that I heard.

03:59

We have many more than that in the United States,

04:02

but we have many more resources in the United States,

04:05

and so, Peace Corps has decided, in its wisdom,

04:09

to take you guys home, to let you go back to your families,

04:13

and to ride this thing out, and I hope that we will

04:18

see many of you back here in Senegal again.

04:21

Departure, wheels up, is going to be

04:24

this evening at 1900 hours, 7 p.m.

04:28

This is the last day of open airspace for Senegal,

04:33

and so, the airport is probably going to be

04:36

a little bit busy, and so we’re going to do

04:40

our very best to get you through.

04:42

We’ve got a special flight.

04:43

We will get every single one of you on board.

04:47

You’ve had faith in us up until now, we will get you home.

04:58

So originally, we were supposed

04:59

to be leaving Sunday, two days from now,

05:02

but now we are leaving today.

05:03

We have a lot to rush to, and a lot of admin,

05:07

medical stuff to get through, and packing,

05:09

and getting all 300-plus volunteers to the airport.

05:28

[speaking in foreign language]

05:30

[speaking in foreign language]

05:32

[indistinct conversations] [tense music]

05:49

[Woman On Speaker] This is the first board

05:50

of A3 to the United States.

05:52

All passengers are required to clear customs

05:54

and hand over your baggage to transfer desk

05:57

after clearing customs before proceeding

06:00

to [murmurs] Concourse, C and D gates.

06:04

[laughs] [she and others clap]

06:07

Welcome back, you’re going to hotels now.

06:11

All right, welcome back, guys, yay! [claps]

06:22

We got here on Saturday, and my mother

06:25

actually picked us up, but she couldn’t even hug us,

06:28

she couldn’t say hello, it was just from a distance.

06:31

I didn’t even feel like speaking or catching up with her,

06:34

because it didn’t feel like I was home.

06:36

To me, it felt like an Uber ride,

06:37

even though it was my mother.

06:38

So I’m hoping that after I’m not quarantining,

06:42

in two weeks, I’m able to go home

06:44

and hug her and just share with her

06:46

what this crazy experience has been like.



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