One of Us: Sex, Violence, Injustice. Resilience, Love, Hope.
by Sandi Giver (Uganda 2009–11)
Peace Corps Writers
Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77)
SANDI GIVER WAS A Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Uganda when she was raped by a member of the United States armed forces. This book is a memoir that started out as a written statement to the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) about her rape. It took incredible courage for the author to tell her story, and she does so with a candor and attention to detail that is remarkable.
In addition to the core story of the author’s rape and participation in two military trials, she includes information about her childhood, her work history prior to Peace Corps, being physically assaulted by her landlord in Uganda, and much more. It is a very far-reaching memoir, which is impressively thorough, though at times almost painful to read.
For a description of the theme of the book, I quote Ms Giver. She states it better than I could.
Knowledge of sexual assault doesn’t make someone immune to having an incident. Just because I had worked with individuals who had been raped, it didn’t mean that I was immune to falling in the trap of a rapist. Working with a population is far different than being a part of that population.
This book is a valuable resource that should be made available in every Peace Corps country office abroad, and in every recruiter’s office stateside! It is recommended reading for every new PCV and for other folks who work abroad, whether for the US government or an NGO.
Though well written, this isn’t a book you read just for the story, but one that you should also read because you need the information, insight and inspiration it contains. If anything, the current #MeToo movement makes this book even more relevant and timely than it already was.
Reviewer D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-6) and Costa Rica (1976-7). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: http://dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.
Read Talking with Sandi Giver, a Peace Corps Worldwide interview.