In a Holding Pattern

When Heather’s dad gave up his ticket to see the Twins in June so Heather and I could spend as much time as possible together, we made an agreement that he and I would go see the Twins and their new stadium later in the summer. Since this weekend is our anniversary we decide that this would be a good weekend to make the trip. On our drive to the cities today we decided to make a phone call to Heather since she would be heading out to her new village tomorrow morning and we were not sure when we would be able to call her again.  As usual she answered the phone after only a few rings.  I could hear lots of laughing and noise in the back ground.  She said they were just getting done with dinner so I offered to call back. She said it was OK, that they were done and she seemed glad to hear from us.  She immediately headed into a story about the happenings of the day.  They were at the Peace Corps offices in anticipation of leaving very early in the morning but she said that had change today.  This morning when they got to the offices they were told that there had been a terrorist threat on westerners in a couple of the regions, including the one that she is to live in.  When they were told about it this morning the PC was not sure how valid the treat was so they went ahead and started the preparations to leave early Saturday morning.  At about 5:00 this afternoon (11:00 in SD) they were told that the treats were indeed real and that they would not be leaving as planned.  They were placed in what is called step back.  This is the first level of alerts that the PC has. In step back the PCV’s have to remain in their assigned village or where they are, they can no longer travel from village to village. The other two levels of alerts are consolidation, where they bring all the PCV’s in a region together in a secured location, and evacuation where they actually evacuate the country. Because of all of this they will be staying where they are at until at least Monday when they may head out to their villages or just go straight into their language immersion training, probably the later she thought.  As of right now she is safe and with the rest of her staging group. They were making plans to entertain themselves with games, a talent show, movies ect.  They were also enjoying the food since it is better there than what they normally have.  She seemed pretty upbeat and not too concerned about it at all.  I however am not quite as comfortable with the situation.  It is hard not to worry about your child when you hear such things and so we do the only thing that we can do, we pray.  We pray for her continued safety and strength to get though this.  We ask taht yoy please keep Heather and all the PCV’s in Niger in your prayers as well. 

We are planning on calling her again on Sunday to find out if the situation has improved and where they will go from here.  I will try to update after we know more.

Shiela

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2 thoughts on “In a Holding Pattern

  1. Hi, Sheila

    I was so excited to find these blogs and letters from your daughter, Heather in Niger! My husband and I are Peace Corps invitees to Niger with staging date of Oct. 18, 2010. Maybe we’ll get to meet Heather and we certainly will closely follow your blog on Face Book. We were concerned re: the recent events in Heather’s village and wonder what that will do to PC sending more volunteers like my husband and me and our Oct. 18 group. Guess we ‘ll find out soon. We will keep Heather in our thoughts and look forward to reading more of her experiences through your blog. Just from what I’ve read in books and on-line, the Peace Corps is certainly vigilant and careful with its volunteers and seem to have the best interest of them at the forefront of their decisions. My husband and I will be some of , if not the, oldest volunteers in our group so we’ll see how that goes in such a country as Niger. We are excited and ready to go! Judy and Dave Smith

    Note: If you have not read it, ADVENTURES in SERVICE with PEACE CORPS in NIGER by James R. Bullington isa fascinating book and gives a good picture of some of what real life is like as a PC volunteer in Niger. Enjoy!

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