This book is available at Amazon in eBook and paperback format. If you order through this page, I will send you an autographed copy. On March 1, I will hold a virtual author signing via my Facebook page: Shad’s Books and Garage.
From 1998 to 2000, I spent 27 months and 27 days in the Peace Corps as Public Health/Community Development Extensionist in Guinea, West Africa. (But who was counting?) I worked with the head doctor at a health center that served 5,000 people in a remote village 50km from the nearest phone and short wave radio. My only transportation out of town was a mountain bike unless it was Saturday or I got lucky. I lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof. My roommates included spiders, lizards, firefinches, skinks, ants, mice, and termites.
When I joined the Peace Corps, they explained that family and friends will have a hard time relating to what I had done during my service. They also said that it was important to get mail while we were so far away from anything. With no electricity and no phones, we may not know what was going on in the world for weeks. I decided that one of my best plans was to write letters home that detailed my experiences. This would help the people I love relate to my service and give them a reminder to send me mail. It worked!
Twenty years later, I am releasing these letters to the general public. I have changed the names to protect the identities of those involved. I have also made minor changes to make them easier to read and understand. These letters contain all the details of Guinean life that are fit to print. As a volunteer, I faced riots in the capital, saw malnourished children, and taught people to engage in activities for better health.
They said that Peace Corps would be the toughest job I’d ever love, and they were right. The Peace Corps is the only organization that has allowed and required me to use everything I knew in order to make a difference for the better. Did I actually make a difference? I’ll leave that for those in Guinea to decide.
Get “My Life in the Projects: A kid’s-eye view of HUD Housing in the 1980s” if you’d like a mostly true story of when I lived in the ‘hood in California.