Girl’s Conference and News Update

First, let me say that though you may have seen news reports about deaths in Conakry and other bad things, in Faranah things remain calm, though people are rather upset about it. I have been hearing rumors of some general unrest in other cities like Mamou and Labe, but up till now I am not sure what exactly is happening outside of Conakry.

What I have heard is that there was a protest planned yesterday, but that the president made protesting illegal and so the military broke it up, resulting in many deaths and wounded, including wounding at least two (or three?) of the presidential candidates. The BBC said that Dadis has said the deaths are a result of some soldiers who got out of hand. He has yet to declare himself a candidate yet though. There are some news articles here and here.

All of this is to say that I am certainly safe (I learned of the deaths on bbc radio just like some of you), and that most other volunteers are in no danger whatsoever. I was planning on making a trip to Conakry soon, but at the moment travel to Conakry is restricted to emergencies only, so I may be delaying it. We will see. I am still going to Dabola for the 10k race though, unless that also gets cancelled (unlikely).

So girl’s conference was a huge success. At least I thought so. The volunteers organizing it did a fantastic job and the teachers, who are volunteers at a Guinean ONG, were amazing and really good at getting the girls involved in the sessions. We had sessions on STIs, HIV, early marriage, social roles of women, the importance of education, and other topics along those lines.

The girl I really wanted to go was 12, and I think she had a good time, though she was so quiet I doon’t really know. But I also brought two other girls as her companions, and they were the bad students of the conference. They skipped classes, snuck off campus, and were mean to some of the really young girls that other volunteers had brought. So that was emberassing.

But it gave me some good ideas about who I want to take to next year’s conference and the work I would like to do with them when the conference is over in terms of having them present to their classmates or friends.

Also, I discovered this afternoon during a rainstorm that my cat loves my harmonica. As soon as I start playing it she joins in meowing, and soon she is on my lap nudging the harmonica and biting my hand, all the while continuing to harmonize. At least I think she loves it. Maybe she hates it and she is trying to get me to stop.

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