April 10, 2002 - Honolulu Advertiser: Volunteers taken off Standfast in Senegal

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: April 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: April 10, 2002 - Honolulu Advertiser: Volunteers taken off Standfast in Senegal

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 12:18 pm: Edit Post

Volunteers taken off Standfast in Senegal

Read and comment on this story from the Honolulu Advertiser by PCV Betsy Polhemus, a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa who says that when the war in Iraq started all Peace Corps volunteers in Senegal were placed on Standfast, an order to get to the village and to stay there until further notice. However, since the war started she's experienced nothing but genuine concern from the people of Senegal and now volunteers have been taken off Standfast and are able to move, live and work again normally.

Congratulations to Peace Corps Staff in Senegal and other countries for handling this delicate situation so well. Read the story at:

Muslims opened hearts to a foreigner*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Muslims opened hearts to a foreigner

Betsy Polhemus, a St. Andrews Priory graduate from Kailua, is a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa.

On 9/11, I happened to be in Kolda, Senegal, a gorgeous 3.5-mile bike ride from my village, Saare Foode, doing errands and visiting with Peace Corps friends. I'll never forget what Natalie said when she got off the phone: "New York City just got bombed."

We stuck together, huddled around a short-wave radio tuned to the BBC, waiting on word from Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. We were advised to return immediately to our individual villages until further notice.

On my way home, friends in town stopped me on the streets with worried looks, confirming again just how far Hawai'i is from New York City. Total strangers shook my hand, asking if I knew whether or not my family was with peace. I went to the bank and was called behind the desk to the manager's office, and he described his sadness at hearing about all those who had died that day.

Since the war on Iraq started, I've experienced nothing but the same genuine concern. For safety, all of us Peace Corps volunteers in Senegal a West African, almost entirely Muslim country of 10 million were placed on what our country director called "Stand Fast," an order to get to the village and to stay there until further notice. The people in Saare Foode know me like family, after almost two years of amazing relationships, and I agree that there is no place safer in the world for me to be.

Again, during that first week, I saw nothing but support from every single individual I encountered friends, family and total strangers alike.

They give me space when I listen to the BBC, constantly ask about my brother and my father (who have both visited Saare Foode). They know I'd rather we weren't at war; they ask if my mother is with peace.

By now, we have been taken off Stand Fast status, and are now able to move, live and work again normally.

And still, even after a trip to the busy capital city of Dakar, I've been offered prayers, blessings, condolences and real smiles on a daily basis.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Senegal; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Iraq



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