Saturday, July 16, 2011

Whatever doesn't kill you

I'm back from my long hiatus. As quickly as it came summer camp 2011 is now behind me. Please look forward to my stories in the coming days of all that is camp. For now I'd like to tell you the about the most unfortunate event of my camp experience. But please know it's all up hill from here.

In summer Peace Corps volunteers are allowed to bring 3-4 kids from their town to summer camp on a full  scholarship. The kids are given transportation to and from the center in El Jadida and all their camp costs are covered. Transportation is supposed to be arranged and carried out by each region's local delegation. My four boys got to the camp ok but getting home was another story.

Out of 88 kids at the camp all got picked up but my four. I was going to leave El Jadida myself at 10:30 by train but having gotten held up I figured out that I was too late to make the train. I just stayed at the camp hoping to catch the next one after two hours. Meanwhile my four boys and 10 other kids from nearby cities were all anxiously waiting for their provided transportation to pick them up. All the other kids had gone, starting their trips to far away cities. But the 14 kids who lived the closest had yet to leave.

My boys still did not know how they were going to get home. Apparently the man who drove them did not know when he was supposed to come back to pick them up so he wasn't coming. I then realized I didn't want to go anywhere until I knew what would happen to them.

It is not the job or the responsibility of the volunteer to travel with the campers. For liability reasons technically we are not allowed to. So even  though the responsibility was out of my hands I realized I might be the only one who could get them home.

The director of the camp told my kids that a bus would be coming to pick up the 14 remaining kids and drive them to a city near all their homes. This bus was supposed to arrive at 11 am but at 12:15 something finally arrived which was not a bus.

It was a van with only six actual seats. The driver said he was given instructions to come and pick up 10 kids, my four not included. Due to the police patrols on the road the driver was too scared to drive all 14 kids. I didn't blame him. But then that left me with four boys that ultimately had to get home by public transport.

I was hot, tired, hungry and I had four boys, all with baggage, one having an emotional meltdown, and three without any cash. Christopher, my good friend and savior, was another volunteer who's kids had gotten in the van. He easily could have gone with them in a quick and free ride. But me being in a city I barely knew with all the other factors that I just mentioned didn't feel confident tackling the task that was at hand alone.

It didn't take long to talk him into staying with me. With Christopher by my side we walked the boys first to an ATM machine where I could get money to cover the trip and then to the bus station to catch a bus first to Casablanca. I told Christopher I would pay for his journey because he was doing me such a great favor.

After a two hour bus ride we arrived in Casa. Luckily one boy's aunt and another boy's father met us at the bus station to pick up their child. I made sure to apologize to each parent for the confusion of the day and was thankful to them for being there to get them. Each one was thankful to me for getting them home. I was glad no one was upset.

Lastly Christopher and I boarded a bus with the last two boys for Berrichid where three of us would get off before Christopher would continue on to his hometown.

The trip was hot and took just over four hours. The whole time I was upset that the delegation didn't properly do their job and get these kids home the right way. At the beginning of the experience I had a teary moment myself but by the end of it I was actually glad to have had it. It did make me a little stronger and gave me some unique memories.