Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Official...Evacuation

All of us boarded buses heading out of Camp Peace Corps. We arrive at a very nice hotel in Dakar with a pool and air conditioning. We are told we have an hour or so to settle in, go for a swim, and then head into a meeting with our country director. We walk into what we think is going to be a meeting just with Mauritanian Peace Corps staff, and end up being introduced to "the security team". As soon as I heard the word "team", I knew all hope was lost. One member of the team is actually the head of the national Peace Corps program. Though she had the unfortunate job of breaking the news to us, I think many of us appreciated that she is spending with us about half of her last ten days in office before Obama's new pick takes over.

As you've noticed, there has been a lot of instability in Mauritania since the beginning of my service last year. As I suspected, they have decided we will not be allowed to return to Mauritania. Today was obviously a very sad day for all of us, but I'm trying to remember that this also opens up a whole world of possibilities for the future. I will be back in America (again) probably within the next week. I've got a lot of ideas about what comes next, but I'm pretty sure it involves more Peace Corps service. I'm not going to write all the details here, because I don't know them all, but I'll be sure to keep you all updated.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Welcome to Camp Peace Corps...anyone up for a game of limbo?

Hi everyone. I wanted to give you all a quick update, because a lot has happened in the last week, and a lot will continue to happen in the weeks to come. Since coming back from America, I’ve been at “Camp Peace Corps”. It is actually the training center for the Senegalese volunteers, but they have kindly offered to let us use it while the Washington security team checks on the safety of Mauritania. It really does feel a lot like camp. There are group volley ball games, cabins, and a mess hall. We even went on a little excursion this weekend, and we all rented a house on the beach. So yeah, it’s been pretty awesome…that is except for the dark cloud over all of our heads.

There is a very real possibility that my two years in the Peace Corps will be cut short. In addition to the events I described in my previous entry, last night, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the capitol, killing himself and wounding a few others. We still have not heard final word about our future in the Peace Corps, and though I am trying to hold out hope, I also know that the Peace Corps will always hold our safety as a top priority.

This has been a somber day for Peace Corp Mauritanian volunteers. Not just because it puts our future in jeopardy, but also because a country that we have grown to call home will now be thought of by the world as a dangerous and unstable place. We are always reminded that terrorists are extremists and do not represent the mainstream thinking. It will be very difficult for me to leave all those people who have done nothing wrong, although those that I have spoken to do understand.

Anyway, I wanted to let you all know what was happening here, safe and sound, in Senegal. I will post again as soon as we’re out of limbo. Thanks again for the great trip home!