Blogs from Guinea, Africa - page 6

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Africa » Guinea February 13th 2007

We've been in Mali for about two and a half weeks now, waiting to see if the situation in Guinea cools down enough for us to go back. We could officially wait up to four weeks, but it was announced yesterday that we officially will not be going back. President Conte had until Sunday to name a Prime Minister, and Friday night he named Eugene Camara, a close crony and former Minister to the President. The agreement with trade unions required the President to name someone who had never worked for the current regime, so this appointment was immediately rejected. For the unions this move is indicative of the President's unwillingness to cooperate with the people, therefore they have reverted to their original demand that Conte resign. Protests/riots erupted all over the country on Saturday. Several ... read more

Africa » Guinea January 30th 2007

Since we’ve been in Bamako, there has been some progress in Guinea. Both sides agreed to the following setup: Conte would remain President, but a new Prime Minister would be appointed as head of the government. The President then becomes a figurehead with no political power. Union leaders would draw up a list of three to five candidates for Prime Minister, and President Conte would appoint one from this list. All of the other government ministers would be replaced. Their replacements must be people who have never held a position with the current regime and who are not leaders of political parties. Once this new government setup is function, the government and the unions will discuss other demands regarding salaries, cost of living, etc. For now, the President has signed an agreement regarding this setup, ... read more

Africa » Guinea January 30th 2007

After my holiday vacation, I returned to Kourou and taught for all of two days before a national strike was called on January 10. The strike originally involved the two major trade unions in Guinea and was precipitated by the government’s failure to pay its contractual workers for several months. In general, Guineans are dissatisfied with the high cost of living, rampant corruption in the government, and overall poverty. The unions considered striking in mid December but decided to wait until after the holidays. In the meantime, the country’s disaffection with its leadership only grew. Word got around about a recent study by Transparency International that ranked Guinea as the most corrupt country in Africa, second only to Haiti for most corrupt in the world. The Fete de Tabaski came and went, for which Guineans ... read more

Africa » Guinea » Conakry December 28th 2006

There were 35 or 40 volunteers in the Conakry house for the holidays. There were not enough beds for everyone and we kept running out of water, but it was nice to see everyone and eat good food. In the TV room, Love Actually was viewed about a half dozen times. We got the broken stereo working and played a few chrismas CDs on repeat. A few people's families had sent them Christmas decorations, so we had a mini tree, a string of lights, a stuffed snowman, and a couple of santa hats. On Christmas Eve the sun was hot, so we took a swim in our director's pool. That evening he had us over for beef stew, good salad, and real beer. We watched football on his satallite TV, played cards, and hung out ... read more

Africa » Guinea » Conakry December 20th 2006

So it doesn't exactly feel like the holiday season because it's still hot and, well, no one here celebrates Christmas. The muslim Fete de Tabaski is coming up though - it's the day where you kill a sheep. That's all I really know about it. Everyone gets really excited to actually eat some meat. I'm sure there's some religious significance, too (Abraham and Issac story?), but people seem to be most interested in eating a sheep. I'm in Conakry for Christmas, or I might go to Freetown, Sierra Leone. We'll see. Since my last update... Thanksgiving dinner in Labe was fantastic. Our director sent a turkey to each regional capital. We also bought some fish and sacrificed a chicken. We had a vat of mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, fresh salad, stuffing, gravy, the works. We ... read more

Africa » Guinea November 24th 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m celebrating in Labe with other volunteers. Our country director sent us a turkey! I’ve heard there are some old taped football games around too. It’s also about time to get paid, yay! We were paid in September, the equivalent of about $485 American to buy everything we need for our houses, transport, school supplies, and living until December. It’s not much money but there’s not much to buy in the village, so I’ve actually managed to save some money for traveling. Big news...a friend of mine is going back to the States for Christmas and will be bringing some things back for me. So if you've thought about sending a letter or some pictures or an mp3 CD...now would be a great time. Send things to my mom and she'll take care ... read more

Africa » Guinea November 24th 2006

Some answers to your questions. Let me know if there's anything you'd like to hear! Describe Kat’s house and her village. Kat is my closest PC neighbor. She lives in the village of Gongoret, 12 km from me. The village is sligtly larger than mine and has the luxury of daily taxis that go to Mamou. Everytime I travel, I am obligated to bike to Gongoret to get a taxi, for cars just don’t go all the way to my village. The cars leave Gongoret first thing in the morning, so I bike to Kat’s house the evening before and stay the night. Kat lives in a mud hut with a thatched roof. It’s composed of two walls that are concentric circles, forming an “inner circle” and an “outer circle” of the hut. The inner circle ... read more

Africa » Guinea November 14th 2006

The other morning I sat down at a table for breakfast with a couple of bananas, an orange, and a baguette. As I turned to pull up a chair I heard a crashing sound as a monkey FLEW over the table and landed on the other side of the room with my banana. Jerk. I’m back in Mamou for Teacher’s Conference. Education PCVs in math and science invited Guinean teachers from their villages to meet and discuss teaching techniques. The conference is a good idea since the traditional method of teaching here involves kids copying pages and pages of information from the board and then memorizing things without understanding them. The back of every notebook at the market has a multiplication table, along with an addition table, a subtraction table, and a division table, all of ... read more

Africa » Guinea October 28th 2006

Hope you’ve all got lots of time to kill at work! This is the longest update you’re gonna see. It’s broken into topics, so skip around. Let me know if you have any questions or want more details. Enjoy! BACK IN LABE… I’ve survived my first month in the African bush, and despite the lack of certain luxuries it’s been a pleasant change from training in the dirty city. I’m now back in Labe for some shopping, a meeting, and a Halloween party. I left Kourou Wednesday afternoon and biked to Gongoret, where I can catch a taxi. I stayed with Kat that night and we got to the gare early to find a ride to Mamou. We got spots in a “six-place” taxi, which is the size of a compact car. The standard is four ... read more

Africa » Guinea October 28th 2006

I know I told everyone not to send emails and to write letters instead. Well it turns out the Guinean postal service has not been delivering any letters from the US. Apparently they open them to see if there is any money inside, then throw them out. All the volunteers have had good luck receiving packages, but almost no letters have come through. As a result, I haven’t heard from anyone the whole time I’ve been here. So how is everything back home or wherever you’re living?? I just heard that the Tigers are in the World Series…holy crap! What the heck is going on back home? How are everyone’s new jobs and apartments? If you get a chance, I’d really love to get some emails. I can usually have time to print them at least ... read more




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