Safety Training for Six Year Olds

Well, after being postponed and changed at least three times we finally had our big “security meeting”. The intent of this meeting was to discuss the changes in the country; what expats need to do to be as safe as possible; and what additional security measures will be implemented.

Like all things Madagascar – the intent and the result are two different things.

We recently hired a new security guy who has worked all over the world and is an “expert” in expat security. He gave us instruction on how to:

- Not talk to strangers

- Not to fight a kidnapper

- Give up our car in the event of a hijacking

- Be aware of pickpockets

- Avoid going to dangerous areas of town in the evening

- Let someone know where we are at all times

Gee, thanks! I’m glad that working in the Congo, South America, and Nigeria has taught you of all that valuable information! All you really had to do was to come to Canada for a day or two – because I’m pretty sure I learned all that stuff in grade two. Would have saved you a lot of time and money, Mr. Security.

There was no discussion of the political crisis or any other real life situations. No detail on what the company’s procedure is in the event of a kidnapping. No mention of the project’s procedure for evacuation of the political issues increase. Oh – but wait!!! He did tell us how he plans on changing all the locks on the resident’s houses! Fabulous. That’s some great security work. Especially since the guy that was recently attacked OPENED HIS DOOR to the criminals that robbed/beat him because they had already attacked the security guards. I’m no Mr. Security, but changing the locks wouldn’t have been my first priority.

When it was question time, an expat wife discussed her concern about the lack of security for the busses that take the expat kids to/from school. Mr. Security’s response? “Maybe you and the other expat wives can get together and brainstorm some solutions.” Ummm…….call me crazy (and not just Africa-crazy) but…. Mr. Security Guy….aren’t you in charge of…uh….uhh…what is it now…. uhhhh SECURITY!?!?! Isn’t it your job to make sure that there are appropriate security measures to ensure that the little kids arrive to school/home safely?

At one point I made the mistake of asking a question. Mr. Security – what about security issues in/at the camp?

He said, what do you mean?

Um… I don’t know. You tell me!?!? What are the security issues in camp? Can you tell me what you are doing about them? Aren’t you in charge of this kind of stuff? Urgh. Total waste of my time.

Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), it wasn’t a productive meeting. And no comfort was provided. Personal security is my responsibility, but I was hoping to get some assistance from the “experts” that have been employed (at great cost) by the project.

So…..I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing – be careful, assess the situation as best as I can, and hope for the best.