Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Crying Game

As we continue to settle into life in the States, we’ve been watching Mali with great sadness.  The past few weeks have seen violent demonstrations both in favor of and against the junta government.  In theory, the junta has stepped down and a transition government has been been officially put in place to help establish elections and restore democracy.  The military coup leader has faded into the background, though he still appears to be pulling strings behind the scenes.  In recognition of his stepping back, he has been officially granted “former head of state” status, meaning he will now be recognized as and treated on the same level as Mali’s former presidents complete with perks such as a mansion provided by the government along with a monthly pension that is 50 times his salary as a soldier.  A fine example for young Malians to look up to and aspire for.  Meanwhile, last week Mali’s transitional President was attacked by an angry mob in the Presidential palace while the military guards looked on.  He is now recovering in France.

As all of this has been happening in Bamako, the situation in the north of Mali has been growing worse.  The two bands of rebels that have taken over have formally aligned their efforts and officially announced they have formed an Islamic state based on shari'ah law.  There are reports of TVs being smashed, people being beaten for smoking, and women forced to cover their faces with veils.  Schools have also been segregated and boys and girls are not allowed to be in the same classroom together.  The number of people that have fled their homes and are now living as refugees has risen to over 300,000.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

That Sinking Feeling

We are enjoying our time in SoCal.  Life here is so much easier and more convenient.  It’s also wonderful to be surrounded by so many friends and family.  We appreciate the warm welcome we have received from everyone.

We’re continuing to grieve about the situation in Mali.  It’s hard not to second guess our decision to leave and wonder if we left prematurely.  Over the past couple of weeks, there have been signs that life is continuing as normal in Mali and the situation is improving.  However each glimmer of hope seems to be wiped away the following day.  Yesterday, a counter-coup attempt was launched by soldiers loyal to the former democratic government.  The past two days have seen bloody battles in the capital of Bamako where we live.  It appears this effort has failed and the junta forces remain in control.  The airport is once again closed – at least for a week in an attempt to keep peace keeper reinforcements from entering Mali.  It continues to be a very sad situation.