Receiving an e-mail from the Peace Corps director is the PCV equivalent of having a military officer knock on your front door. It is always bad news. Another volunteer has died.
During my service volunteers have been killed in rock climbing accidents while vacationing in Tanzania, shot in the capital of Lesotho and found dead of natural causes at site in Niger.
Everytime I hear the news I find it shocking, sad and upsetting. I have not known any of these volunteers personally, but as part of the Peace Corps community it cuts close to home.
I suspect that, like me, the PCVs who passed away during their service never seriously considered the possibility that, when they left their homes, friends and family, they would never see them again. I also suspect that their family and friends never really considered that a quick "Goodbye" at the airport was goodbye forever. Death during service is not something the average PCV and their support network is prepared for, nor should it be.
Peace Corps goeps to great lengths to ensure that volunteers are healthy and well-prepared to survive in the environments into which they are thrust. Death, while always a possibility, is not likely. We are volunteers in Africa, not soldiers in Afghanistan. It is not our parents who should be getting knocks on doors, not our peers getting e-mails, not our bodies on planes, and yet, very rarely, it is. The fact that it is uncommon is little comfort to anyone.
My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of PCVs now passed away.
I hope it's a good, long while before I hear from the director again.