The Crisis in Mali: A PCV Perspective

DISCLAIMER: The following perspective is the view of one PCV and does not reflect the views of the US Government, PCBF, or the Government of BF.

First of all I want everyone to know that I am indeed safe in Burkina Faso. Peace Corps Burkina Faso is operating normally and the US Embassy in Ouagadougou has not changed its security posture.

Some of you may know that I live in Northern Burkina, <100km from the Mali Border. I remember being at my site in April 2012 listening to BBC World Service when I heard there was a coup d’État in Mali. Unfortunately I knew three fellow PCVs who were trekking around Dogon country in Mali when the coup took place. I was particularly close to two of them and was very concerned about their safety. About a week later, during our Malaria TOT in Ouahigouya, we found out that the Mali PCVs were indeed evacuated and were in Accra, Ghana for a transition conference.

Fortunately a bunch of Mali PCVs were able to do a direct transfer to BF and continue their service. I love talking to them and hearing their different perspectives and I am so glad that they are a part of our PCBF family.

The recent conflict ratcheted into high gear when ECOWAS troops were sent to Northern Mali. I personally got a little freaked out when the Premiere Adjoint (Assistant Mayor) called me frantically one night on my cell phone and asked if I was at site or in Ouaga and if I was okay. I told him I was fine, and that I was heading to Ouaga the next day.

When I arrived in Ouaga I got a call from our Safety and Security Coordinator and met with him. Other PCVs and I in the affected areas were told that everything is fine for now, but if it came down to it, would we want to change sites?

I said frankly, I have 8 months left in country, and I don’t want to change sites and reintegrate. I feel VERY safe at my site. For example my site even has a “neighborhood watch” type of system. If they see any weird people or randos hanging around they sequester them in the Marche while the Gendarmes are called. Everyone in my village knows me by name and I am the only permanent resident who is a foreigner.

We are also very fortunate that members of senior management are highly trained in crisis situations and I have full confidence in their abilities.

I hope that the Malians regain power in their country against the rebels and that the bloodshed and violence stops. My heart goes out to the Malian people and I hope this gets resolved soon.

Fortunately In BF, everything is relatively normal except for a heightened state of vigilance. Inshallah, let’s hope it stays that way.

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