Sunday, 26 August 2012

Peace Camp - The Aftermath

I have talked little about my health in this blog.  Well here it is in a nutshell:  I’ve had malaria three times (in Uganda), Bilharzia/Schistosomiasis (which basically means my body was infested with snail eggs as a result of bathing in dirty water), and intestinal worms (which I could actually see through my skin).  Additionally, I have been experiencing some reoccurring symptoms throughout the past six months, which neither I, nor the Peace Corps have been able to get to the bottom of.
Peace Camp left me (and many others) feeling both emotionally drained, and physically sick. After experiencing such an intense week, where we were both emotionally and literally isolated from the outside word (including not having internet or phone access), adjusting back into “reality” was difficult.  And as a result, my mysterious symptoms returned full-blown.  Since I got in trouble for not telling Peace Corps when I had malaria the first time, I have consciously made an effort to keep them in the loop regarding my health.  So I called them and told them what was going on…
The next morning, I woke up to a phone call explaining that Peace Corps has decided to “medically evacuate” me.  This means that they would send me home (or to Washington D.C. presumably) for roughly a month to visit doctors and be medically evaluated.  Yeah, a bath and some Mexican food sounds great… BUT my concern is as follows: Most people that are medically evacuated are not allowed back into country.  And I am just not finished here.
So, as I am trying to process Peace Camp, and reacclimate back into my Gulu life, and my work at Aid Africa, I’ve now been bombarded with this on top of everything.  They want me to leave “sometime this week,” and suggest that I pack as though I would “not be returning.”
So, in an attempt to stay in control of my own life, I have written to Peace Corps headquarters asking that they give me one month.  During this month, I plan to take a proactive role in decreasing unhealthy habits, and focusing intensely on bettering my health.  I will let you all know when I receive their response.
My phone keeps on ringing with unknown numbers.  This is not necessarily uncommon as I swear people sell my phone number...  I have been tired, sick, and in an introverted emotional state, so I haven’t wanted to answer… BUT, knowing that I gave my phone number out to about 80 people during Peace Camp, with a note, “I will always be here for you if you need someone to talk to,” I have been feeling obliged to pick up.
One of my shyest campers was excited to tell me that she facilitated a discussion within her family regarding their land disputes.
Another asked if we were still at camp because he wanted to come back.
Some are talking about starting their own “Peace Clubs.”
Most of them are asking me to send them photos.
And my particular favorite comes from a young man who proudly stated that he has “converted 30 people into peace pioneers.”
These are the moments that fuel my fire, and help me to realize that no matter how little it feels like it, I am indeed making a difference.
Day 7 of Peace Camp was a disaster.  Cleaning up and getting the “kids” ready to go home was nothing compared to the issue of trying to get their transportation funds reimbursed.  We were all tired and stressed, and unfortunately, this caused some issues amongst the staff.
Nonetheless, Peace Camp has hands down been my most rewarding experience in Peace Corps, thus far.
I want to thank those of you who have joined me on my reflective journey, and give a particular thanks to Kate Scurria for allowing me to use (some) of her photos.
If you are itching to see more, please check out my facebook album: “Peace Camp.”
Apwoyo matek, and may you be blessed on your journeys through this crazy thing called life as well.
Lots of Love, Always,
Akot Jenna

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