In this interview, Travis sits down with Jessica, who served in Zambia as a Peace Corps Volunteer and was medically evacuated after she contracted HIV. Her popular blog, No Going Back. There Is Only Forward. follows her story, medical evacuation from Peace Corps and her current adventure as she applies to be reinstated as a PCV.
Here are a few of our favorite Big Ideas + Other Cool Stuff from our interview:
Big Idea #1: Share Your Story
One of the first things that inspired Amy and us about Jessica is how open she is with her story and her experience in Peace Corps. Over 100,000 visitors have come to Jessica's website and read about her story, shared their experiences and come together as a community but she didn't start that way.
For a long time her story was a secret only known to a few people in her family. "At one point it felt like keeping the disease a secret was even becoming more difficult than the disease itself," said Jessica during the interview. When she decided to post her experience online and be completely open about her story, she was amazed to see comforting and supporting responses within just two days.
Big Idea #2: Support Grows
Because Jessica was willing to put her story out into the world, the world reached back to her with support, comfort and more. A lot can happen when you reach out to others, but it takes that first step to make it happen.
Now through Jessica's willingness to write, speak and meet with others, a community is gathering around the issues of not only contracting diseases like HIV during Peace Corps service, but also around broader issues like medical evacuation, medical separation, leaving countries of service early and much more.
Big Idea #3: We Need You
Jessica has received a lot of support from PCVs, RPCVs, Peace Corps staff and many more people over the past few months, but she has also been one of those supportive people to countless others.
It's Jessica's hope (and ours too!) that the supportive community around these difficult health and medical issues will continue to grow and we need your help. There is an effort underway to bring together Peace Corps, National Peace Corps Association, RPCV groups and others around health issues and medical evacuation and we could use your support. If you are interested, please email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or message Jessica directly here.
Other Cool Stuff:
Here is one of Jessica's most popular stories on her blog, featuring her story of how she contracted HIV... "He Gave Me More Than a Bracelet..."
Also, here is a link to HIV/AIDS Service Provider Locator to help find HIV Resources in your area.
To listen to more, you can hear Amy talk about Jessica during Week 3 of Peace Corps 101!
We hope you enjoyed the interview!
-The en*theos Team
Jessica begins her blog, "I am 25. 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."
Jessica served in Zambia as a Peace Corps Volunteer and was medically evacuated after she contracted HIV. Her popular blog, No Going Back. There Is Only Forward. follows her story, medical evacuation from Peace Corps and her current adventure as she applies to be reinstated as a PCV.