OBLIVIA – A novel about a missing PCV



The Peace Corps Failed to Properly Supervise Missing Volunteer and Lost Track of Him
Published: Jul 20, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2001.

Walter J. Poirier

Walter J. Poirier, a Peace Corps volunteer, was reportedly last seen in La Paz, Bolivia in February 2001. This report reviews (1) whether the Peace Corps failed to properly supervise Mr. Poirier’s activities and (2) the actions taken by the Peace Corps and the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia when they learned that Mr. Poirier was missing. GAO found that Mr. Poirier failed to follow Peace Corps location and notification procedures. Although the Peace Corps Associate Director responsible for Mr. Poirier while he was in Bolivia knew that Mr. Poirier was not following these procedures, he took no steps to correct the situation and, as a result, lost track of Mr. Poirier. Furthermore, the Associate Director’s failure to adequately monitor Mr. Poirier contributed to the U.S. Embassy’s difficulties in locating him. Once it was determined that Mr. Poirier was missing, the U.S. Embassy, the Peace Corps, the Bolivian National Police, and fire and rescue teams in La Paz and throughout Bolivia conducted an extensive search. So far, Mr. Poirier has not been found.

A non-Peace Corps Volunteer writes:

I began this book after three years of living and teaching in La Paz, Bolivia. While there, I enjoyed the friendship of three dedicated Peace Corps Volunteers. They introduced me to a side of Bolivia I would have never known.  At the end of my tenure in La Paz, a tragedy took place. A young Peace Corps Volunteer disappeared, and to this date (2018), no one knows what happened. Friends suggested I write a nonfiction account, but to me the real story was just sad. As a fiction writer, I felt better equipped to honor this young man’s memory by exploring the “what ifs” that ensue when a person goes missing. That said, Oblivia should not be taken as an accurate account of what took place. All the characters, whether inspired by real people or not, were modeled in my imagination. Oblivia is meant to honor and encourage anyone who aspires to make a difference in the world.

Obliva: The Story

Dan Mora, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia, is missing. Will Jamie Morgan find him before it is too late? Oblivia introduces the reader to Dan Mora and Jamie Morgan, Peace Corps volunteers in Bolivia. At a crossroad in their lives, they discover the power of making a difference. Yet when Dan disappears, and Jamie is given the task of finding him, she discovers that nothing is ever as it seems in a country she and Dan have grown to love, a place they call Oblivia.

Debbie Bouche

The Author

Debbie Boucher is a retired teacher. Her latest adventure was teaching at the International School of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 2012 until 2015. Debbie is bilingual and has taught at American schools in Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia, as well as in the public schools at Mammoth Lakes, California. In her spare time, she writes books. Back to Normal, Millennial Fears, and Oblivia are award-winning novels and are available through Amazon. To celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Aunties, all of her titles are on sale as ebooks for $2.99. She makes her home in the Sierra Nevada mountains because she loves to ski, hike and play violin with the Eastern Sierra Chamber Orchestra. She is married and has two grown daughters and two granddaughters. To learn more, visit her Facebook page or her website at www.debbieboucher.com.

A novel

by Debbie Boucher (NonPCV)
Outskirts Press
November 2012
412 pages
$7.38 (paperback)




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  • The Peace Corps is in a lot of trouble if the expectation is that the Peace Corps staff “properly supervise” Peace Corps Volunteers.
    Peace Corps Volunteers are full grown adults who volunteered to serve their country and their host peoples in often difficult and sometimes dangerous (where even angels fear to tread)settings. But none of us signed up expecting to be “baby sat” by staff–we expected and indeed had to operate on our own in a host country setting, live with host country families and neighbors and work with host country counterparts. The expectation has always been that the Volunteers will use good judgment while living and working in entirely new and often strange and difficult environment

    yes, there is a Peace Corps Associate Director assigned to provide some administrative support, some mentoring and guidance and an occasional (once every three months or so) site visit. But “supervise’???

    If a Peace Corps Volunteer did not have the good judgment and the wisdom to keep PC/La Paz aware of his travels or whereabouts–it is his and his alone responsibility. There is no way PC Volunteers can be “supervised” in the traditional sense of the word, nor should they be; the distances and communications logistic make it impossible. One of the points of honor for the Peace Corps is that hundreds of thousands of them have gone to the ends of the earth, served the people and communities well and made good things happen—and almost none of them were “supervised” by the Peace Corps staff–advised, mentored, occasionally visited–but their success/failure, safety, health, language proficiency and productive service was theirs to make or break as they saw fit—That is in the nature of volunteering to answer President Kennedy’s call to serve “in the huts and villages of the world” And that is as it should be!

    • John, I seconded your comments re ‘Volunteer’s being supervised”. When we went through our program orientation in Bogota, Colombia, then recovering from decades of “La Violencia”, one of our Group asked this question of the PC Country Director: what do we if we get kidnapped? He responded without any hesitation: “just remember that you Volunteered to be here”. Not one in our Group challenged him on that response.

  • I challenge any notion that because one is serving as a “volunteer” that they should not expect the organization for whom they are serving to act in their best interest and make every effort to assist volunteers in time of need, especially when it involves their life! After serving in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, 1962 to 64, I have been on countless boards of non profits and also served as volunteers in other capacities for non profits, state parks, education and cooperatives. Absolutely i would expect those organizations to work to keep me safe or as safe as possible. I would not expect them to do nothing or shrug their shoulders and say, Well, you volunteered to be here”! where is the value of your life? I find that response chilling! What did that Country Director think he would do if a staff person was kidnapped? He/she was not a volunteer. Was staff more valuable than volunteer? Apparently!
    yes, I am 82 now and the Peace Corps in it infancy had no idea what to expect as we all ventured across the world to our various outposts in generally more protective conditions. I agree we were not supervised in the traditional sense unless by the headmaster of the school in which we were teaching, but not by PC staff. Thank goodness! But not supervising in the traditional sense does not equate with not caring or not having a plan in place for emergencies.

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