15 June 2009

Major Setback

As some of you know by now, I am not leaving for Mauritania tomorrow as planned. Last Monday, I got a call from one of the people at the Peace Corps headquarters saying that they have been unable to secure visas for the volunteers that I was supposed to travel with. This came as a quite severe shock, as I have already said goodbye to my family and friends, packed, spent all my money, etc... We really have no idea when we could possibly depart, but it won't be before mid-August. Truthfully, I'm quite despondent right now, as I have really no option but to return home to Alabama and wait. I have been in the P.C. application process now for almost as long as my service will last, and it just gets more and more frustrating. I know I can't rightly blame the Peace Corps for any of this, but I do wish that we hadn't been kept in the dark about this big problem until a week before we were supposed to leave. A lot of people in my P.C. group were originally slated to go to Madagascar in December, but that program was outright canceled due to political instablility, so some people have gotten shafted twice.

Mauritania has been under junta rule since July of 2007. Under a recently-negotiated agreement, there will be elections in mid-July of this year to return the country to civilian rule, even though two of the three major candidates are ex-generals who both took power in either the most recent coup or the one before it. Anyway, the hope is that the delay in having our visas issued is most likely a result of the political instability in the country, and that once the elections happen, our visas will be processed in a timely manner. These are some talking points that the P.C. sent to us:

· Your staging has been postponed while we wait for your visas to be processed. Please note: Your visas were not denied; we are waiting for the Mauritanian government to process and issue your visas. We read some misinformation circulating on the blogs – so we ask that you please be careful what you post on the internet.

· Your departure date depends on several factors, including when we receive the visas, flights, and other logistical & support considerations.

· As of today our best guess is that you will depart for staging in mid August.

· We estimate that you will have at least four weeks notice before your departure.

· There are no other country openings at this time.

· Your staging may be held in a different city depending on what city your flight leaves from.

· We will be in touch with you, mostly by e-mail, as new information becomes available.