Apparently my last post made the rounds through much of Peace Corps Guyana. The new volunteers, fresh into the country, read it and brought it up to staff during training. I have no idea what the outcome of that discussion was (although I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall), but I started getting messages from other Guyana PCVs. Word was getting around. Volunteers I'd never even met before had somehow heard about the post, read it, and were reaching out to me to share their support. It crossed all boundaries, too. Every cohort in the country, from all different areas. It seems I've struck a chord.
Not one negative message, at least from the volunteers.
I was informed two days ago that I will be sent home with Interrupted Service, which means it's no fault of my own that I have to leave. I'm not being drummed out for bad behavior or anything. I was informed on July 3rd that I'd be leaving Guyana July 26th. that doesn't even give me a chance to say goodbye to the scattered volunteers in my own region, with whom I've served these two years. Devastating, to say the least.
The reasons given were:
"loss of counterpart and supervisor." I have both. They even sent my supervisor the memo. My counterpart won an award last year from Peace Corps.
"Isolation at site during the school break." I have been left at site over breaks before, and my supervisor and I had already submitted a plan to cover the month when the campus was deserted. I even offered to take the whole break as a vacation, since I've only used six vacation days over two years.
Finally, "Projects do not fall within the framework." I have been doing the same work for two years. How could it suddenly not fall within the framework now? Wouldn't it make sense, if they don't approve of my projects, to work with me to change them, rather than sending me home with barely two weeks notice?
I am in the middle of the appeals process. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Here's the original memo (I've replaced names with ***, but made no other changes):
July 3, 2018
TO: Carolyn, Peace Corps Volunteer, Peace Corps Guyana
FROM: ***, Country Director, Peace Corps Guyana
SUBJECT: Interrupted Service
Pursuant to the Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. 2504 (i), and Peace Corps Manual Section (MS) 284, Section 5.0 (attached), a Volunteer may be separated with interrupted service status if the Country Director determines that circumstances beyond the control of the Volunteer make it necessary for the Volunteer to leave his or her present assignment.
In this case, I have determined that circumstances in Guyana prevent you from carrying out your assignment (MS 284 5.1(d)), and that there is no viable assignment in Guyana for which you are qualified (MS 284 5.1(c)).
I have determined that the circumstances in Guyana, and specifically at your site, prevent you from carrying out your assignment for the following reasons:
- Loss of Primary Counterpart and Supervisor: We learned that your assigned Supervisors and Counterpart, which included the Executive Director, Principal and Tutor, left your site of assignment, the Bina Hill Institute (BHI), or plan to leave shortly. BHI has not identified fulltime replacement candidates to fill these key positions. These essential oversight roles are required and thus their absence prevents you from carrying out your primary assignment.
- PCV Isolation and Insecurity: Because of the virtual shut down of BHI during the Summer months, the only full-time residence on the remote property would be yourself and the all-male guard service. This situation was deemed unsafe by Staff and the governing body of BHI, the Northern Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB). Unfortunately, Peace Corps-approved housing will not be consistently available for the duration of your service.
- Activities Inconsistent with Framework: The sector program frameworks are the guiding principles for our activities at sites. These frameworks were designed in partnership with the associated Ministries and align with their development priorities. While Peace Corps staff greatly appreciates the work conducted by the NRDDB in collaboration with you to craft a work plan for the remainder of your service, quite a number of proposed activities presented in the submitted work plan do not aligned with the framework.
Lastly, there are no other available and vetted sites for you to complete your assignment due to the limited time remaining before your scheduled Completion of Service date (November 11, 2018).
Therefore, your effective date of separation from Peace Corps Guyana will be Thursday, July 26, 2018. Your Program Manager will contact you directly to discuss logistical details with you further.
Under paragraph 5.2 of Peace Corps Manual Section 284, you may appeal to the Regional Director for the Inter-America and the Pacific Region (IAP) in writing if you think the reasons for separating you with interrupted service do not apply. The Regional Director will consider documentation provided by you and country staff in determining whether the decision to separate you with interrupted service was appropriate. Except as provided in Peace Corps Manual Section 293 Applicant, Trainee, Volunteer Discrimination Complaint Procedure, the Regional Director’s decision is the final agency action. Therefore, if you wish to appeal, write directly to ***
I am available to speak with you further to discuss anything contained in this memo.
Cara, I thank you for your service to Peace Corps Guyana and the Bina Hill Institute. I will continue supporting you in whatever way I can to ensure a smooth transition from Post back to your Home of Record.
Peace Corps Guyana