Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where's Waldo?

After weeks of silence, rest assured we are safe and sound. 

Unfortunately our time in Mali ended prematurely due to continued instability. Leaving was so hard, that explanation is a blog post we are not yet ready to compose. However, leaving was the best decision as the current situation in country did not allow for us to do the work we came to do effectively or safely. 

Peace Corps Mali was evacuated, all volunteers left together and spent a week in Ghana for administrative processing. Our service has officially closed and the PC Mali program has been suspended until the situation in country stabilizes. We spent an extra week in Ghana on the beach with friends and a weekend enjoying the best of Accra with George's high school prom date, Victoria. We are en route to America visiting family and friends along the way.

We are currently enjoying WONDERFUL hospitality, chocolate, wine and cheese at James and Claudia's in Basel, Switzerland. We continue on to Paris and Washington DC before arriving in Bozeman in early May. Planning many road trips this summer to visit family and friends. Have a place on your couch for two? -we just might show up at your house

Monday, April 2, 2012

Waiting...for now

While the initial 30 hours of this coup were intense for those of us in Bamako, the past week has been rather un-extraordinary in the neighborhood where we are in Bamako.  We are in a comfortable house with a number of other Peace Corps volunteers, vacillating between boredom and anxiety.  The anxiety comes more from an uncertain future than from any safety concerns.  This coup has been relatively non-violent in southern Mali.  One wonders how a small number of junior soldiers could pull off a coup.  By most reports, it appears that there was little resistance.  Many average Malians we have encountered in the past few days are in support of the ideals that drove the coup, which initially surprised me, since the aims of the coup - to put someone else in power - could have been attained at the end of the April with the planned presidential election.  It seems that Malians are fed up with the government, corruption, and had little faith in the upcoming elections, or maybe more generally were upset about chronic poverty and challenging lives.

For those volunteers who were in their respective villages at the time, they learned the news from texts messages or the radio, though their villages continued to go about their normal life.  We have been in touch with our friends and host families in our village and they are all well and continue to be optimistic that we will be able to return as daily life and work in village continues to move forward.

Northern Mali is a different story right now, and the rebellion there appears to be taking ground and quickly winning battles working toward their objective of securing the entire North to be an autonomous state of its own.

While we do not know the outcome, and much of the past week has been full of political events that do not look promising, we are invested in waiting here for the time being.  It is a fluid situation, and things could improve or get worse in a hurry.  If it gets worse or becomes dangerous for us, we are confident in Peace Corps pulling us out.  For those of you who have not been here, it is impossible to explain the reasons we have for waiting for this to play out.  Beyond the 41 years that the Peace Corps has been here in Mali, and the staff of Malians and Americans it employs, there is a human element in our village.  We have friends, co-workers, neighbors, and a home in our village, and while we are safe and a chance remains that things could return to normal we want to wait here.

Thank you all for the prayers and concern.

Holiday fam, Diane L, and 36th Street Cunninghams - you can be relieved that your goodie packages were not in vain, our pal Miriam picked them up in Segou for us yesterday.  Thank you!

Here is another perspective on what's going on here.  This blog is written by a Fulbright scholar (former PCV in Mali and a Carleton College grad) and has some more eloquent details on the political situation here- perhaps can put some context on how/what happened here in March: