Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Ahmadi Singers, Orchestra and Pirates of Penzance

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Woooo Hooooooooo Al Ahmadi Singers and Orchestra! I love Gilbert and Sullivan so much, I might have to buy tickets for all three nights! The Gala includes a dinner, and the following two nights do not, but the singing will be great all three evenings, I have been promised.

The last time I saw Pirates of Penzance was at the Qatar Academy, and the Emir’s son was the hero. ;-) He did it with a lot of panache.

Pirates of Penzance! See you there!

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, Events, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Music, Satire, Social Issues | 10 Comments

Peacekeeping in Dharfur

From the New York Times

Peacekeeping in Darfur Hits More Obstacles

By LYDIA POLGREEN
Published: March 24, 2008
ABU SUROUJ, Sudan — As Darfur smolders in the aftermath of a new government offensive, a long-sought peacekeeping force, expected to be the world’s largest, is in danger of failing even as it begins its mission because of bureaucratic delays, stonewalling by Sudan’s government and reluctance from troop-contributing countries to send peacekeeping forces into an active conflict.

The force, a joint mission of the African Union and the United Nations, officially took over from an overstretched and exhausted African Union force in Darfur on Jan. 1. It now has just over 9,000 of an expected 26,000 soldiers and police officers and will not fully deploy until the end of the year, United Nations officials said.

Even the troops that are in place, the old African Union force and two new battalions, lack essential equipment, like sufficient armored personnel carriers and helicopters, to carry out even the most rudimentary of peacekeeping tasks. Some even had to buy their own paint to turn their green helmets United Nations blue, peacekeepers here said.

The peacekeepers’ work is more essential than ever. At least 30,000 people were displaced last month as the government and its allied militias fought to retake territory held by rebel groups fighting in the region, according to United Nations human rights officials.

For weeks after the attacks, many of the displaced were hiding in the bush nearby or living in the open along the volatile border between Sudan and Chad, inaccessible to aid workers. Most wanted to return to their scorched villages and rebuild but did not feel safe from roaming bandits and militias.

A week spent this month with the peacekeeping troops based here at the headquarters of Sector West, a wind-blown outpost at the heart of the recent violence, revealed a force struggling mightily to do better than its much-maligned predecessor, but with little new manpower or equipment.

Despite this, the force is managing to project a greater sense of security for the tens of thousands of vulnerable civilians in the vast territory it covers, mounting night patrols in displaced people’s camps and sending long-range patrols to the areas hardest hit by fighting. But these small gains are fragile, and if more troops do not arrive soon, the force will be written off as being as ineffective and compromised as the one before.

You can read the rest of the article HERE

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Bureaucracy, Counter-terrorism, Dharfur, Family Issues, News, Political Issues, Social Issues | Leave a comment

A Long Way Gone: Ishmael Beah

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Back when I wrote an update on Dharfur, my blogging friend Chirp recommended a book, A Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. I ordered it that very day, and read it this last week.

It is a truly heartbreaking autobiographical book about a young mischievous boy growing up in Sierra Leone, leading a relatively simple and carefree life in his village with his family. It is very African. He talks about the games he and his friends play, his fascination with rap music and the simple joys of the life he is leading.

Then the rebels come. The invade the villages, hopped up on dope, their dead eyes with no pity, raping, killing, chopping off limbs, stealing all the village food and burning the village behind them, often with people locked inside their huts.

Ishmael escapes once with friends, eventually returning to the village to find his entire family gone. Most of the book has to do with what he has to do to survive. Many villages are very afraid of groups of boys, even boys as young as these are – in their early adolescence – and will hurt them. At the very least, most of the villages hurry them along. At one point Ishmael is hiding out in the jungle forest on his own, hiding from lions, giant feral pigs, sleeping up in trees and looking for the rare fruit or grass that he can eat without getting sick.

Finally, after meeting up with some other boys and continuing to try to find his family, a village takes him in, a village run by the state soldiers. As they are attacked by rebels, the boys are forced to make a choice – go out on their own again (where the rebels will also try to recruit them, and if they refuse, will kill them) or agree to be soldiers. These are kids 12, 13, 14 carrying AK 47′s. As part of their training they are given drugs on a regular basis which keep them hopped up, full of energy, and not sleeping for days. The young boys learn to kill without pity. He becomes the very people he was fleeing.

This is a book about redemption. At the center where the boy soldiers are taken, they are constantly told “none of this was your fault.” It is a very African approach, a very human and loving approach to redemption of lives that might have been totally lost to the horrors they have witnessed and inflicted. The author is now nearly 30, and sounds – unlikely as it might be – happy.

Thank you, Chirp, for recommending this wonderful book.

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Biography, Blogging, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual | 19 Comments

   

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