Thursday, January 29, 2009

Staying Safe in Madagascar

Good morning,

In case you've been following Africa news over the past week, just wanted to let you all know that I am perfectly safe here in Madagascar.

News coverage is still not very prominent, so if you're thinking I'm talking about the cyclones last week, here is an update:

Starting on Saturday, demonstrations led by the capitol's mayor against the nation's president were held in Tana. The mayor and his supporters are upset with the president's increasing monopoly on the M/car market, his misspending of public funds, and a recent land lease to South Korea (half of M/car's arable land). On Sunday, the demonstrations turned into more active rioting. Monday, the mayor spoke again in Tana, which was then followed by protestors rioting and burning down the president's news and radio stations. Tuesday, political unrest in Madagascar spread and escalated.

I was in the capitol already for a training workshop and have been staying put safely at the PC house. Both Wednesday and Thursday were relatively calm here in Tana and throughout the country. My banking town, Mahajanga, was very hard hit, but friends there are safe. And I’ve heard things are normal back home in Katsepy, and my Malagasy ‘family’ is just as anxious for my return as I am. Most small villages probably have very little idea of what is going on. It’s just rice farming as usual.

Experiencing house arrest in the very upscale ‘vahaza’ part of Tana has been somewhat surreal. It’s sunny, birds are chirping, we’ve have plenty of food delivered and have even been able to go out to eat, and stuck with a great group, we’re laughing a lot. But I still can’t help but feel completely shocked...all Malagasy I know are happy, passive and hardworking people...I had no idea that this unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the gov't was so strong and could propel people to such destructive and even violent acts. I feel safe, but sadden and disappointed by this. All PCV's in country are safe and accounted for. I will have internet today and possibly tomorrow and will try to keep all informed as best as possible. If no news, nothing’s changed. :) Please no worries, we are all very safe, and PC is handling the situation incredibly well. Hopefully I've be home in my Katsepy tin and stick hut in no time, eating coconuts like nothing happened. :)

Love you all very much!
Staying safe and positive,


amy said...

Dearest Tara,
Your updates are so appreciated. I hope you are still safe and sound and soon heading back to your village. Please let us know more? If I can stay up tonight, I'll try and skype you.

Robert said...

Thanks for letting us know, Tara. Oddly enough, I have found virtually no news about the Madagascar situation in any of the foreign or domestic news sources I read - not even the Africa-based services. Cathy and I are thinking about you.

Robert Wright

Kevin said...

Just saw something on the news here in France and glad to here that you seem to be safe! What's your skype?!