October 31, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Casualties of "Journalism" By Lesotho RPCV Bokang

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: What RPCVs say about this Series on other Message Boards: October 31, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Casualties of "Journalism" By Lesotho RPCV Bokang

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-165-54.balt.east.verizon.net - on Friday, October 31, 2003 - 2:16 pm: Edit Post

Casualties of "Journalism" By Lesotho RPCV Bokang

Casualties of "Journalism" By Lesotho RPCV Bokang

Casualties of "Journalism" By Bokang

Hi there (I hope this'll post properly!),

Well ain't this a big to-do...

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho from 1999 – 2001. I was in the country when some of the incidents took place that are described in the Hopgood/Carollo article “Danger in the Highlands.” I’ve read most of the other articles in the “Casualties of Peace“ series. Although I guess I have more of a “stake” in the Lesotho article, I want to babble a little about the whole series. I know the series isn't finished (as of this writing), but I've read as much of it as I can stand and have already formed an "informed" opinion on it. :-)

With all the "statistics" and such at their disposal, the authors of this series really don't have much to say, i.e., in the tradition of good ol' American "journalism" they're blowing random shit way out of proportion to push the fear button on what is, in the bigger picture of current national and world events, a pretty unimportant issue. The group who “tackled” this series probably couldn't get approval to do "in-depth" reporting on, say, what the Bush Administration knew about 9/11, who is actually benefiting from the "war on terrorism" (or for that matter “the drug war” or any other “war” we’re in…), where Dick Cheney has been hanging out and what he's been up to, or perhaps, how many women did Arnold grope....

Peace Corps has had 170,000 volunteers in its over 40 year history, and 250 volunteers died during that time. Seems like pretty good odds to me, considering what and where and all that. And most of the deaths occurred in the "early days":

1960-64=10 deaths 65-69=50
70-74=54 75-79=41
80-84=39 85-89=15
90-94=12 95-99=18
00~03 or so =11

The last ten years seem downright "safe" to be a volunteer. And as far as Lesotho itself being so "dangerous": four volunteers died during service in Peace Corps Lesotho's 35 year history – 2 auto accidents ('80,'83); 1 CO poisoning/heart attack ('00); 1 murder ('84). (Statistics extracted from this website)

This isn't to discount the assaults and such that many volunteers endured (or how close Chad came to being Lesotho’s #5 casualty), but I do find it interesting that the vast majority of us managed to survive such "Danger in the Highlands." (And for some reason I haven't learned yet: I'm going to be visiting Lesotho during January and February next year.)

I'm no fan of "support” provided by Peace Corps, whether during service or post- Peace Corps (except perhaps in-country medical). And, in my opinion, the allegations of seeming lack of concern by Peace Corps staff are well founded. I'd even go further and add that Peace Corps as an agency, from DC to the in-country bureaucracy seems to be, at least at first glance (and sometimes a little beyond...), an amazingly jumble of almost chaotic incompetence (maybe a less disparaging description would be "extreme multitasking under adverse conditions"). But the fact that most of us somehow made it through such a "dangerous" time at the hands of such "uncaring incompetence" relatively intact says a lot about how well Peace Corps really does works, or at least how amazingly resourceful most Volunteers are. Maybe a little of both...


Sala hantle

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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Investigative Journalism; COS - Lesotho



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