Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Utter bullshit

About six months ago, during the training period of the most recent Protected Areas Management volunteers, a group of four guys in that group were asked by an armed guard if they'd take a picture with him. They all got in the photo, unloaded his gun, and held it along with the guard for the shot.

I'd never have found out about this apparently irrelevant event, as indeed I shouldn't have (because who cares?) if somehow the picture hadn't found its way onto one of the computers here at the Peace Corps office in Tegucigalpa. From there somebody saw it and sent it to Carolina Cardova, the acting Country Director (or she found it personally) this week or last week. As a direct consequence - at least as far as I can tell - the four volunteers who were in that photo taken six months ago holding an unloaded gun with a guard were summarily kicked out of the peace corps. One of them was my new neighbor Patrick who was in the community of La Palma, an outstanding guy who I was really looking forward to working with and having as a friend for the remainder of my time here. Though I didn't really know the other three much, they are all held to be some of the most motivated, serious, and hardworking volunteers out there. So not only did I lose a friend, neighbor, and co-worker, but the program as a whole lost four excellent volunteers for doing something SIX MONTHS AGO that probably none of them imagined was an offense.

Now there may be facts that I'm not privy to. Facets to the case that escape my notice. I'm sure it's a very complicated case, a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what have yous......

Yeah, right.

I can't believe they are doing this. It could so easily have happened to me. Nobody was really consulted outside of the country-level administration before the decision was made, neither the volunteers in question, trainers, nor our project director. These guys set aside two years of their lives for the peace corps, jumped through all the hoops to get in (which commonly takes up to a year), suffered through three months of intense training, and were just getting settled into their sites and by all accounts enjoying their work. How is kicking them out of the peace corps at this point the best solution to this perceived problem? How is it the best option? How is it even necessary, to say nothing of appropriate?

I heard somebody mention some kind of so-called justification having to do with "loss of trust." Yeah, I think I know who really lost trust in who here.

They'll all be gone by tomorrow (two are already) but Pat is still around luckily, so if yall will excuse me I have some last minute hanging out with friends to do. Hopefully I'll manage to make it through the evening without doing anything to get myself kicked out of the peace corps.


At 11:49 PM, Blogger Dave/SugarBear said...

Crap. Sorry to hear about your friend :(

Hope that Christmas is enjoyable for you. Merry Christmas man!

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had heard about that too, and I agree that it is cRaZy. I have my own experiences to corroborate some of the utter nonsense that goes on at the upper levels, but this is really ridiculous and I am mourning the loss of what you accurately described as a really good group of guys.

And what about the communities that were depending on these people? Aren´t they the ones we´re supposed to be serving, not our own "best" interests?!

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got back from two years in Africa. I loved Peace Corps, but the hardest thing is dealing with the fucking Americans. I'll NEVER work for or with the US govt again.They really are monsters. I feel ya man...that's too bad. I almost got sacked for not wearing my bicycle helmet while riding an old mare to church. Go fig...

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