Military upheavel is benign, bordering on boring

August 12, 2008

Adam “Mauritania” Fiebs is doing just fine in Africa.  The coup going on there is, in so many words, “boring”.  Meanwhile, it’s been generally agreed that Mauritania Peace Corp work is the least-desierable of all assignments.  Yay Adam!

…as you can see, as predicted, the coup is boring and goes with the saying “maritania…worst…coup…ever.” oh well. … i guess peace corps took an unofficial poll and has concluded mauritania is the least desirable, if not hardest, service in peace corps. hilarious! hope all is well

adam

Adam (Right)

Adam then reposted the email he’s received from his P.C. director, of sorts, Obie.  (I’ve edited it for brevity and entertainment value).:

Hello PCV/Ts:

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say hello and provide you with a brief update on the political situation in the country.  Not that I am counting, but this is now my third coup d’etat since arriving in Mauritania!  As happened in 2005, this looks to be a rather benign coup … At this stage, there are no indications that you (or other foreigners residing in the country) are in any danger as a result of the recent action taken by officers of the Mauritanian military.

The airport has remained open and business and government offices seem to be functioning as usual.  The U.S. has suspended all non-humanitarian aid to the country.  Peace Corps is considered a “humanitarian” agency and as such is not immediately impacted by the cut-off in U.S. aid.

Hmmm.  I would think that a coup just might shake-up a government.  Apparently not.

…Some things to keep in mind as we move forward:

  • In order to protect the integrity of Peace Corps’ mission, it is imperative that you do not engage in sensitive political discussions concerning Mauritania.
  • Please avoid large gatherings or demonstrations.
  • It is very important that everyone respect out-of-site policy (please keep your APCD informed of your whereabouts).
  • Do not allow yourself to be interviewed by any media outlet without first clearing it with me.
  • Keep in contact with your family and friends in the U.S., it goes a long way to reassuring them of your well being. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or eMail any of us.  The after-hours emergency duty officer number is xxx-xxxx.

Very Best — Obie

P.S.  With all of this great material, I would think that a pretty good PC Mauritania tee-shirt could be designed!

If they do eventually make a t-shirt, I will insist Adam send one my way so I can put it up for sale at TeeCycle.

Don't know if that's food or something else, but it's gross.

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Kiffa

July 25, 2008

My friend Adam is continuting being an amazing person.  Currently, while I blog in an air-conditioned building and complain that it may just be too cold right now, he’s here:

Adam is expanding his borders and putting his medical know-how to work for the Peace Corps in Kiffa — a moderate-sized town in the (Islamic Republic of) Mauritania, Africa.  Do yourself a favor and scroll around Kiffa for a while — it’s pretty humbling.  Also, note that no one’s bothered to draw the city’s roads, and they extend like a starburst to other Mauritanian cities.
 
Mauritnia, as I’m now reading, has had a fairly eventful half-century.  Given independence from France in the ’60s, within 15 years they occupied then relinquished an area now known as Western Sahara because of Polisario guerrilla raids.  They’ve since set up an “air quote” Republic with a few iffy rulers and a pretty nasty Afro/Arab conflict.  Anyway, Kiffa’s a small market town known for it’s decorative beads.  Judging by the history, discriptions and images, I’m simultaneously proud and nervous for Adam for the next 2-year stint… and herrrrrrrre’s Adam:
hello everyone!
just thought i would write a brief email enlightening everyone to what has been going on in the last month.  well, it has been quit busy.  “Stage” (french for training) is quite a grueling, but entirely necessary, process.  so far, though, i have found myself enjoying it immensely despite the difficulties assimilating into a new, very different, place.  at first, the level of garbage and poverty in the streets is somewhat overwhelming. however, it is genearally considered the norm all over the county and thus far i have met countless peace corps volunteers and mauritanians who have been fantastic in helping me ‘adjust.’  already, i feel like my time here will be worthwhile and successful! already, i can tell my french is improving and hopefully hassaniya will follow.  i am assigned to Kiffa, which is in the assaba region.  it is drier then rosso (where i have training) and that, for the time being, means less bugs which is great! i have been here for 3 days (for site visit) and the PCVs already here along with the trainees in the region wih me are great! I will become very close with them in the next couple years.
 
also, the great thing about kiffa is the many ngo’s that are already based here.  i already connected with USAID and the head there is really excited to work with me.  if i did nothing in my 2 years but work with them, that would be fine. i will have the opportunity to travel on ‘missions’ in the region and will be privy to the inner working of USAID and the WFP (world food program) which i am extremely excited about (especially for my time post -peace corps!). 
 
anyways, back to some training things. i just wanted to check in. once i hit swear in and get to site permanently (sept 1) i will have much more time to write in more detail and more often.  i am enjoying every bit of my time here thus far and the people who are with me are as supportive and enthusiastic as anyone would hope for. once i get my camera in the mail (inshallah) i will be sending pictures on a soon to be started site. TBA. miss you all!
 
adam.
 
 
 
 
Picture from Nomad Intent