After a long holiday weekend of questions and nail bititing, the news finally came in: Peace Corps Burkina Faso is here to stay. There are, as you might imagine, a lot of mixed feelings about this decision. On the one hand, we as Peace Corps volunteers can breathe a sigh of relief that we don't have to pack up our beautiful lives, drop all of our friendships and projects and say goodbye to our pets. Many of our families do not feel the same way. News outlets and media sources constantly call us back and forth between believing this was an isolated incident and believing that this attack is start of something that should really concern us, and many are scraping for more information to justify their feelings in either direction.
To those that are angry with this decision, remember that any Peace Corps Volunteer can take 'interrupted service' at any time and leave Burkina Faso with the full benefits of an RPCV. I, personally, am confident in the Peace Corps' decision to stay, not just because an evacuation would quickly reveal my lack of life plans beyond the drinking tea in Solenzo, but because I have faith in the collective decision making power of Washington, the US Embassy in Burkina, and Peace Corps. Having to sit through endless safety trainings, wearing a bike helmet where no one has heard of one, texting two to three phones to get permission whenever we spend time away from site, harsh restrictions on where we are actually allowed to go in the country- all this has assured me that Peace Corps takes our safety very seriously, sometimes maybe even a little too seriously.
The conversation is ongoing and the Peace Corps community remains vigilant. For now, I plan to continue fighting terrorism in my own way by doing everything in my power to support my community, because the Peace Corps does so much more than small development projects. 90% of my work here is about building relationships and exchanging culture so that the ugliness, hatred and misunderstanding of the West that breed these abhorrent acts of violence do not creep deeper into communities like this one. Believe it or not this is important work, and I intend to keep doing it for as long as I can.