Some background information, before we begin:
I work with three different groups of people:
- Expats, like me, from countries like South Africa, Peru, USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia
- Nationals (Malagasy people)
- People from ountries like Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippians.
The last group lives in another camp, seperate from the other expats. (You can probably figure out why and the reasons don’t need to be discussed on this blog.) I’ll just refer to them as people from Asian workers to make things simpler.
So onto the story.
Last Sunday, a Malagasy worker was found dead on site. His body was examined and it was found that he died of natural causes. Sadly, when the deceased’s mother was informed of the death, she died of a (suspected) heart attack.
The town is not happy about this. They don't beleive he died of natural causes.
There is a rumour that a Filipino worker died a few weeks back (there is NOTHING to confirm this) and now the Malagasy employees think that their co-worker part of some revenge killing. I don't know what to beleive.
Yikes. A lot of drama for a small town.
This Wednesday, a group of Malagasy employees started to strike on site and aparently were chanting, running around, and throwing rocks. For everyone’s safety all other employees were evacuated to our camp nearby. Our camp is protected with fences, razor wire, and security guards - it seems like a fairly safe place to be. Within a couple of hours the Gendarme (the military) was called in and they managed to get the protestors to disburse. The expats were allowed back to work, but the Malagasy employees were told to go home, and the Asian workforce was told to go back to their camp.
Thursday, the Malagasy and Asian employees had the day off, just to give everyone some space while things cooled off. But, the strikers showed up and blocked the entrance to the site and to my camp, so we all didn’t go to work. Us expats were all stuck in the camp.
Expats were allowed to go back to work after lunch, but but around 15h00, we were alerted to another strike was about to take place and we were again evacuated off site. We were told that we would find out by 9h00 the next day if were allowed back to work. This morning came and it was told that everyone (Asian, Expat, Malagasy) was allowed back to work and it was safe.
The Filipino employees are faced with some ... challenges. They aren’t convinced their camp is totally safe nor are they able to go into town for some time. It is not safe for them. The project is doing their best to manage these things but it is difficult with so many cultural groups involved and such a lack of information.
I’m not sure what will happen now. I’m very happy and fortunate to say that I feel safe-ish. I am safe. But I can’t say the same for my Filipino co-workers. There are three Filipino employees in our department and they are scared. I have spoken with them, let them know that I will get them ANYTHING they need in town, even like...cookies or chips or something, and just asked if they are okay.
And me? Even though I’m probably in THE safest place in Tamatave, well, I’m kind of being a baby about all of this. Ever since we were “evacuated” I’ve been on edge. Even the word “evacuated” makes it sound so serious. Reality is, I have a better chance of getting hurt from a chemical spill or something over some kind of protest, but it’s still unnerving. There is nothing to be scared of, I’m safe, well protected, but I’m nervous of the possibilities and the unknown.
To make matters worse, I’m extremely homesick. I’m missing my family and Canadian friends A LOT. The fact that I'll see them in 17 days doesn't comfort me...because I know I'll just have to leave again....I’ve been this homesick before maybe...three or four times, I think? At the moment, I am liable to cry at the mention of anything sad (Have I mentioned that I’m a Big baby!!?).
And on top of being a homesick baby, my driver and were driving down the road and we hit a dog Wednesday night. It was hurt bad enough that it wasn’t dead, but that it would most likely die in a day or so. We didn’t stop, but I really wanted to tell my driver to pull over and go and break the dog’s neck or something to end its suffering. (I’m not saying I’m being rational, I’m just saying how I’m feelin’. I have serious issues with the dogs here!!). I’m getting made fun of here for being upset about this dog, especially in light of everything that’s been going on... but I like, looked into this dog’s eyes a few moments before I killed it! I’m feeling pretty crappy about it.
So after this crappy week, I did what every grown-up-thirty-year-old would do and called my grandma and grandpa and cried like.... a Big baby. I'm feeling much better. :)
So...that’s what’s new. It seems a bit dramatic right now. I'm not used to these types of things, but I’m sure it will pass soon. And, it’s almost the weekend. Which means the hittin the beach, mojitos, and forgetting about the weird week for a few hours. Until then, I'll just be hoping for a sunny Sunday.