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March 16th, 2009

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Last week a Peace Corps Volunteer was killed here. It was shocking and terrible, and days after, it's still painful, even as removed from the person/situation as I am. The American community here is small, so anything that happens necessarily has a short, powerful ripple. And as a female RPCV who served in Africa, this felt like family and touched close. THen there's the friendships with the staff who has to manage all of this. It's so incredibly hard on them. I mean, can you imagine having to go and retrieve a body? Taking to the US on a plane to deliver to family? Investigating the crime scene?

This morning I had to go to a public event for work where the Big Cheese spoke, and it just so happened that the subject was very germane -- prosecuting and investigating gender-based crimes. I don't know much detail about the Volunteer's death, and even if I did I would not feel right about posting it here. But even so, I sat there wondering about this young woman who loved what she was doing and was cherished by her community and had to ask if she had been a male volunteer if she would have been killed. A question with no answer. The Big Cheese lost her composure as she spoke this morning, and I actually felt grateful to have someone at the helm here who is feeling this so deeply.

This afternoon a contingent of RPCVs here attended a memorial service at Peace Corps, and being with the Peace Corps staff and volunteers felt right. So very sad, but right.

In a comforting twist, because so many PCVs came to the capital for the ceremony, RPCVs and embassy families were asked to house them for a couple of nights. Guy and I were thrilled to do so. It has been therapeutic for us to dote on and spoil the four lovely individuals who are at our house. There's not much we can do in such situations except for wining and dining and in general, just taking good care.
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