Film of RPCVs returning to Sierra Leone


The Peace Corps Returns  
A Documentary film
by Steve Kovacs and RoseAnn Rotandaro.


A Film

In the summer of 2011 twenty Peace Corps Volunteers returned to Sierra Leone, West Africa. For most of them, it was the first time returning to the country since they had served in the 1960’s and 1970’s. They came to reconnect with their friends in Sierra Leone. It was an auspicious time for their trip. The nation was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of independence from Great Britain. The year also marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Peace Corp’s arrival in Sierra Leone.

From 1961, and for a 30-year period, 3,500 the U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers served in Sierra Leone. Then, in 1991, a civil war broke out and ravaged this small nation for over eleven years. It claimed 50,000 lives and victimized more than 20,000 surviving citizens victims by amputating limbs and other acts of terrorism. During these years of strife the Peace Corps was suspended. In 2010, as a result of advocacy from Friends of Sierra Leone, a non-profit organization comprised of returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Sierra Leone Americans, the first post-war group of Peace Corps Volunteers came to teach in Sierra Leone.

This film is a record of the return voyage of American men and women who had come to Sierra Leone as young adults with the intent of giving and had left feeling like they had received more than they could ever have given because of the generosity and spirit of the Sierra Leoneans. They came again, more than 30 years older, again with the intent of helping to rebuild this war-torn country and found that the spirit of Sierra Leone is still there. We follow the returned volunteers to the communities where they worked as well as to other villages where they have established new schools and assist women’s cooperatives. Along with some current Peace Corps Volunteers, they visit Bunce Island, the point of departure for tens of thousands of African slaves to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries and participate in colorful traditional celebrations.

The Peace Corps Returns gives testimony to the spirit, cross-cultural camaraderie and deep feelings of friendship that have made ordinary Americans into ambassadors of goodwill. Transformed by their experience as youths, they continue their relationships across land and sea in an effort to help their adopted country.

As a result of her return to the country she served, RoseAnn Rotandaro established the non-profit, The Village Link, with services in the village of Golu, where she worked as a volunteer in the 1970s, and throughout Baoma Chiefdom.

In her words, “We have built a localized sustainable solution to reduce vulnerability in rural communities with solar powered technology, education, human capacity and community development.”

DVD copies are available for a contribution to The Village Link. Please contact Steve Kovacs to receive a copy.

One Comment

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  • I appreciate Peace corps for their resilience. I was a host family member and my sister was among the 2010 volunteers who came to Sierra Leone. She was called ‘Majoe’, meaning in Mende, a very significant person. My very best wishes to all volunteers and a special one to my sister wherever she is. Thanks!

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