“Where passion and reason collide, difficult choices occur.” (Cliff Vogh)
We have become a casualty of this Ebola war. Our Agency consulted with some African experienced medical doctors, and they consulted with the Provincial Health Authority of Prince Edward island, all of whom agree we would probably be sent to Halifax for a 21 day quarantine upon return. Also, with Burkina Faso being our fall back place for any issues in Mali, and Burkina recently having their own political struggles (I think of a good nature) is seeing Burkina Faso’s borders with Mali close from time to time , this really compromises any safety plan.
There has been so much excessive overreaction about Ebola that I can’t even talk about it anymore. I believe we have made a wise decision, rather than a reactionary one. However, I am one of these guys who thinks evil, badness, harmful and injurious things, sickness, and disease should be faced with courage and kicked in the teeth sometimes. We need to seriously raise our rick tolerance as westerners, because this stuff, no matter how awful, is simply daily life for so many people we work with.
Therefore, there is a huge side of me that this does not sit well with this. However, there is more to this decision than I can tell, and more people involved than just me, so it was the right decision. But I still struggle…. It’s not about “me”. It is about the precious people in West Africa. So it is time to get out of the way for a few months and let medical workers flood in and help Ebola patients, and I will stand behind them and support their work.
Chatted with a few Humanitarian workers in West Africa the other day. They said that serious section of Humanitarian/NGO work is slowing down to a trickle. All over West Africa, even in unaffected countries, scheduled work teams, volunteers, and even new long term field workers scheduled to arrive to the field are cancelling, or simply being held back. Planned projects are being cancelled. It’s going to take years to rev things back up in West Africa.
What about tourism? An internet acquaintance of mine, a Swiss expat Sophie living in Djenne, Mali, runs her own traditional Malian Djenne Djenno Hotel . She is struggling for business since the coup, and now Ebola. Oh My! Check her out.
And here is where I am today:
You know how it is; there has been a natural shift occurring inside of me as I have been slowly disengaging from Canada mentally and emotionally, in preparation to engage Mali. It’s a natural process that makes leaving either place a little less of a heart wrenching shock. Now, all of a sudden, with my heard and heart already in Mali, having already arrived at the place of almost total mental disengagement from Canada, and with a serious case of Mali tunnel-vision, the door quickly closed. Now what do I do?
A friend wrote this to me just this morning. I known in my head it was the wisest of decisions, but that old heart thing…….
“You have shown an incredible amount of trust to “go” in the past… this time I think it may be your trusting Him to “stay””. (Justin MacLeod)
The dreaded Calls: The only thing worse than breaking the news over the phone is having to do it face to face. I had to make five calls to key people in Mali to inform them of the decision. A hard day. You can hear the disappointment, and the disbelief in their voice that such things would stop westerners. But they then rapidly shift to being so accepting, much more quickly accepting than I am. “Man proposes, but God disposes”, “One can not go against the will of God.” all spiced with the oft repeated statement of resignation; “Inshallah” – If Allah (God) wills it.
As I famously wrote earlier, and has become widely quoted globally…….probably even went stellar galactic.
“They have never had to look dozens of West African friends, coworkers or neighbors in the eye while trying to explain why you are leaving, or refuse to return. Only then can you understand how foolish we sound to Africans sometimes- watching as their face and eyes tellingly shift because they are unable to contain their belief that we are FREAKISHLY overreacting. They live here, they can’t leave, and will we just walk away over seemingly trivial daily life risks? These conversations communicate much to our local people. How deeply rooted we really are in their lives, community struggles, and shared experiences is exposed for what it really is. The facade is stripped away, and the truth hurts.” ” (Andy Rayner)