The incredible thing about Peace Corps Volunteers is that we form an odd sort of family in our country of service. During a time of crisis, this becomes vital.
After I was released from the hospital, I stayed in the capital for several weeks while Peace Corps South Africa decided whether I would be medevac’d or treated until I was fit to return to my site. During that time, I stayed at a Guest House/Backpackers. It was both a hostel and a B&B for you Americans, and I stayed in the B&B section of the property. I had my own room and bathroom.
But because it was also a backpackers (hostel), there were a ton of volunteers going in an out from various travels and meetings in the capital. I stayed there about 6 weeks, and during that time, I ran into 30-40 Peace Corps Volunteers.
In the beginning, I couldn’t tie my shoes or put my hair up. So at breakfast each morning, I’d walk around and ask a random volunteer to put my hair up. Other volunteers would offer to take my laundry to the cleaners or do shopping for me. Still others offered to take me to the movies or out for ice cream.
What could’ve been a very lonely and depressing time in a foreign land, far from family, ended up being a pretty amazing time. Because the volunteer community united together to help me out, when I could barely do anything myself. And most of them? They were strangers, but quickly became friends.
I’ll be forever grateful for the help I received them, and for being a part of a community, or rather family, that would unite together when one of us was in a crisis and needed support.