I am 28. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Flight Home...

I couldn’t believe I was already on a plane back to America. This wasn’t supposed to happen for another 19 months. How the hell did I get myself here? I sat there waiting for the plane to take off… staring out the window at my last glimpse of Africa. All around me people were chatting happily about their trip to the U.S., as I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes.

Goodbye Africa. Goodbye village. Goodbye coworkers. Goodbye friends. Goodbye Peace Corps. Mission Failed.


  1. Hi, my name is Jacqueline, I'm about to start my Peace Corps service in Zambia at the end of January. Another girl headed to Zambia posted the link to your blog on our PCV Zambia facebook page. I'm so sorry to read what happened to you. I want to let you know that it's a real eye opener for me and I think for everyone else in my group departing for Africa. Of course we all know that HIV/AIDS is out there, but it doesn't seem like it can happen just like that. I've been thinking about my own future service a lot and I already expect to get lonely in the same way as you. I don't know what else to say, but this really hits home, so thank you for sharing and for being so honest. I know if I'm ever in the same position that you were in, I will think of your story. Keep your head up, you really are making a difference.

  2. Hi Jacqueline, Thank you so much for your message. It brought tears to my eyes- in a good way :-) These past few months have been a real struggle for me, but my only hope is that something good will come out of this all. And perhaps it was somehow meant to be. And that is why I am sharing my story now- in the hopes that others will read it and take the message to heart, and perhaps somewhere down the road it can help them. Please do not be scared by this, but please do be extremely careful. Volunteer service can be a real challenge sometimes, but Zambia is an amazing country, and I really hope you will love it there! I am here if you or anyone from your group has any additional questions :-)

  3. Your mission isn't a failure. I think your mission is much bigger than you know at this point. You're amazing. Keep your head up and keep charging forward. You're meant for something very great.

  4. I totally agree with Lindsay, Jess. Your blog is changing lives, even if you don't think it is. Have you seen your total pageviews? You're almost up to 10,000!
    We are continuing to pray for you and send positive thoughts your way.

  5. I wanted to comment that this could have been any of us. I worked and lived in Asia, South America, and Africa through my twenties, and now live in suburban Cleveland Ohio with a husband and daughter. Even college and grad school were here in the States, and loneliness isn't just something that happens overseas. I admire you for your strength and your willingness to share your feelings. Well done. Again, it could be any one of us, like you said, you have ABSOLUTELY nothing to be ashamed of.

  6. Jessica,

    Your blog, words, and amazing outlook have left me without words. My heart broke as I read, "Mission Failed," because I believe this statement couldn't be further from the truth.

    I have learned more about HIV/AIDS from your blog alone than school and/or informal education ever taught me. As a PC volunteer in-waiting, your experiences and story touch me in ways that I never thought existed.

    If anything, I believe your mission has just begun. You have already started to carve your niche in the world, and this niche is bound in awareness, education, and compassion for the struggle against the AIDS pandemic.

    Please, maintain your amazing attitude. Keep educating the rest of us. Ensure you leave the legacy you want to leave. I'm honored to be the 101st member following your blog, learning from you. Please, continue writing- I will certainly be reading.

    Best to you always,

  7. Jessica,

    My wife and I are both return volunteers from Zambia (98-00). I found your blog randomly and read all the postings. I admire your willingness to talk about your life challenges. There is a strength in you that seems rare. I know you will have your ups and downs, but just know that there is a whole community of return volunteers that think you are an amazing spirit. Your bravery, openness, and forgiveness reminds me of why I joined the PC, and what i need to continue to strive for everyday.

  8. I also agree that it's not mission failed. I just bumped into your blog and have been reading your last couple of entries (was referred from another PC volunteer's blog). As someone who in the near future hopes to serve in the Peace Corps, your blog has been an eye-opener. I will not just think about your story if and when I go to a PC assignment but in my life in general. Looking back at my sexual life, even though I have had less than a handful of sexual partners, I realize that I could have also contracted HIV from every single one of those experiences (not using condoms during oral sex; not asking my partner to get tested). Really glad you shared this with the world. If your mission with the PC was to help people, I can assure you that you are doing it now. Thank you!

  9. Your courage will not allow you to fail. You are braver than you know :) xxxx