Thursday, March 22, 2012

Coup d'Etat au Mali

This is not a post to cause drama but to provide information. A Coup d'├ętat was declared by members of the Malian military last night in Bamako, Mali's capital. For information or background on what transpired yesterday, check news coverage online (BBC, Reuters etc).

George and I are currently in a very safe location. We are not afraid for our safety and will continue to stay where we are until we receive further direction from our superiors who work closely with the US Embassy on security matters. As far as what may happen in the long term, resolution of the coup remains uncertain. Our lives as Peace Corps Volunteers could easily return to "normal" or on the opposite end of the spectrum, we could be sent home. I want to emphasize that we do not yet have confirmed news one way or the other. Most importantly, we are safe where we are. We will keep you all posted if we learn of any new developments.

Pray for peace.    

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Author: Michael Comes to Town

Travel Warnings Be Damned

            First things first:  George and Anna are great, remain in wonderful spirits and look healthy.  If you’re worried about their well-being, stop - there’s not much need.  They’ve adopted well, have meaningful friendships, and know how to navigate daily life very well here.

Now for my actual post:
Mali, eh?” was the standard response when I told people I was visiting Anna and George.  Most Americans know next to nothing about Mali.  Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Mali myself.  I still don’t even after spending eight days here.
            I came into this trip with few expectations.  Don’t misunderstand that as low expectations.  I was very excited to see George and Anna.  I was curious to see how they lived and for them to show me around Mali.  But, beyond that, I really didn’t know what to expect.
            As my trip grew closer, a flurry of articles regarding the ongoing Touraeg rebellion in Northern Mali worried me.  George and Anna assured me I would be safe.  Plus, I don’t believe the Peace Corps would put their volunteers in harm’s way.  My worries proved completely unfounded.  The travel warnings issued by various countries seem almost silly compared to the situation on the ground in Southern Mali
            A short blog post can’t adequately describe the thoughts and emotions I’ve experienced here.  I’m incredibly grateful for George and Anna for showing me around this astounding country.  Though Dogon Country was an unbelievable experience, I am most grateful for the visit to their village in the Segou Region.  George and Anna’s friends and neighbors in the village are so incredibly generous, even though they are quite poor by American standards.  I wonder if I will ever experience the generosity offered by the villagers ever again.  It’s unlikely I will, but I hope to replicate it throughout the rest of my life.  Also, I am still astounded by how happy the villagers seem (and most likely, are), despite conditions that seem insurmountable by most Americans.  Malians are a resilient people and know how to make the best of the many obstacles that pop up daily. 
            This has been an incredible trip.  It’s renewed my appreciation for the US and the many opportunities afforded to me there.  Though I know I’ll quickly return to complaining about some of trivial annoyances that daily life in the US presents, I hope the memories of the many struggles faced by Malians on daily bases remind me that I don’t have it so bad after all.  Thank you, George and Anna, for this completely unforgettable experience.

Day Hike in Dogon Country

Segou at Sunset