The Best Laid Plans…

…of mice and men often go awry.

Did you pay attention to that lesson in Middle School? I did. It stuck… Dream and imagine, but know that the unexpected is bound to happen (for some more than others, I suppose).

In a week I will be finishing my close of service (COS) conference.  I will be arriving there, at the Pacific Coast of Fiji, Tuesday following a second several week stretch back home in America. At the start of this hopeful year I expected to be going into conference after 5 months at site; beginning construction of our river fortification, freshly returned from a chicken coop training.

Remember that thing about plans?

Going into Peace Corps I’d told my family straight out, don’t expect me to come home during service!  I was adamant about that.  Peace Corps service is only two years, why would I spend any of that back in a place that I’d spent the last 25?  Well, because storms happen.  The kind that tear up villages, and the kind that flip your world upside down.

It wasn’t even a week back on Koro, post Winston Emergency Leave, that I received the call that my dad had a stroke.  The time since has been nothing that I had imagined for this point in my service… for this point in my life.  Actually, nothing has been even remotely what I’d imagined it would be since February 20th.

Despite the challenges of the last few months, I’ve found peace and inspiration in the support and kindness of my friends and family; fellow PCVs already mid-project post Winston, receiving cards and flowers from Fiji, supportive staff in Fiji staying in touch, connecting with passionate people back at home, packing and moving with the help of my oldest friends… What remains of life before is being picked up, put back together, recycled and repurposed–in different ways, in both of my homes.  It wouldn’t be possible without the hands of my loved ones working with me.  And had it not been for my experience in Fiji, I’m not sure I would have known that I can ask for help, that I should.  It’s times like these that the meaning of community is deeply experienced and intimately known.

I’m also grateful that I have the support of those around me in returning to Fiji.  It would be easy for people back home to try and convince me to stay, but I maintain my commitment to completing my service and look forward to a few more months in my village home.

“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost… Take heed, do not squander your life.”          –Dogen Zenji

I’d be lying if I said I am not a bit apprehensive about returning to Koro again, or that leaving my family at this time was a straightforward decision.  But I have an obligation to my village, a project to finish, and loved ones to properly farewell.  A storm is a reason to stop and rethink, but not to lay down.  If anyone showed me that through their actions it’s my village and my dad, and now is no time to forget what they have taught me.

For those who have asked in the last few months how they can support me, I finally have a concrete answer 🙂 (Other than keeping my families on both sides of the world in your hearts and thoughts…) I will be working with the women’s group in my village to achieve greater food security and independence through establishment of a village chicken coop.  We’ve talked about it for many months now, and it will be the focus of the remainder of my service.

When I return to site we will attend a training, build the rearing cages and coop, and hopefully use this project as a catalyst for similar projects on Koro in the future.
If you would like to donate, any amount will make a difference.  The training will be run by a local Marine Biologist and Permaculture Farmer, Austin Bowden-Kirby, in Siqatoka (he is the one setting up the Generosity account).

My last three months in Fiji will not be anything like I expected, although I can’t really say too much about what I do and don’t expect any more… What I do know is that the best one can do is move forward, slowly, and with the best intentions.  No matter what, I have a home and a community in both America and Fiji, where I feel safe, loved and happy, and no kind of storm can touch that.

Keep in touch, and keep on keeping on 🙂

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