Well it’s about time I know, I know. A lot has been going on. Instead of writing a new blog, I thought I would post the ‘statement’ of what happened that we sent to PC. Then I’ll write a little bit about what’s happened after that and what else is going on!
On Tuesday morning, April 15, Laurissa went to Serako, her primary school, for a training. As she was walking to her school she ran into a teacher who informed her that there was no school today. He said “Haven’t you seen the students running around?” She asked him why there was no school, and he didn’t really have a clear answer, but just told her that the students weren’t at school so there was no school that day. At school the first teachers she saw told her that there was no school and all the students were at the stadium and made it sound as if they had some sort of sports event. Then she ran into some more teachers who told her the most accurate news, that some Kemant teachers and students were arrested and the students were protesting, so there was no school. As she was leaving her school, Morgan called and asked if there were any students at her school. Laurissa explained what she had heard and then Morgan told her that there were several thousand students outside the government building near her house .That was when we first realized that things were a little more serious than just “no school.” Morgan was headed to Addis for a meeting to return on Thursday if flights allowed. She left later that day after seeing the protest.
Laurissa’s neighbor is a teacher at another school, but was teaching in the afternoon. Laurissa asked her if they had school that day and she said yes, they had testing that day. She seemed confused as to why there were no students at Laurissa’s school that day and as Laurissa didn’t really know the answer herself, she couldn’t give her a great answer. Laurissa’s neighbor came back later that afternoon and told her the same thing had happened at her school. She told Laurissa she went to school, the students were there and sat down to take their tests. In the middle of class they got up and started banging on the desks and chanting and all the students left in protest. It didn’t sound dangerous, but just like a peaceful protest. Soon after, Morgan called Laurissa and told her she had been told that the situation was dangerous. Laurissa called Hishe and explained the situation, still not all that concerned, and he called her counterpart Demeke, to figure out what had happened. Together they decided that it might be good for Laurissa to go to Gondar, just in case, but that it was up to her. Demeke and her school’s vice director, Sitotawa, came to her house after the phone call to check on her. They told her they were unsure how long it would last but that it might be a good idea for her to go to Gondar until school is back. She didn’t feel threatened at all, but decided not to take the chance plus she needed to work on a grant for Camp. She left the next day after her neighbor checked to make sure the town was peaceful.
Laurissa and Morgan stayed in contact trying to get more information and could only really find out that there was still no school. Laurissa was also in contact with Sandy in Tikil Dingay knowing that the two towns had similar situations.
On Thursday, Morgan and Laurissa both heard from friends and counterparts in Aykel telling them not to come back as momentum was building with the protest and things ‘were not peaceful’.
Later that afternoon, Hishe called Laurissa to tell her that there were gunshots and students were blocking transportation and trying to keep people away from the market (Thursay is market day). Morgan also talked to her best friend Nesra, who told her things were not good and that Morgan and Laurissa should not return to Aykel.
Friday morning Laurissa awoke to a phone call from her parents. They told her they found an article online describing Thursday’s events in Aykel, including new detials and describing it as ‘a bloody affair’. Laurissa called Morgan to see if she knew anything about it and update her. Morgan then called Nesra again to find out that Nesra and her daughters had been locked in their house since Thursday when they could hear gunshots and a lot of chaos in town. Nesra told Morgan that people had died and things were very unsafe and she would call Morgan once they were better. Nesra sounded terrified and was very worried about Laurissa and Morgan’s well being.
Morgan updated Peace Corps on Friday with what she had heard and Laurissa and Morgan stayed in touch with people in Aykel to make sure everyone they knew were safe and okay.
As of Sunday, they still did not know much about what was going on other then the roads had been reopened and things were ‘better’, although civilians were still said to be locked in their homes. Both of their counterparts told them it was still not safe to return, and Teferra, one of Morgan’s counterparts, told her there were a lot of thieves and they needed to stay in Gondar.
Monday, Morgan spoke with Nesra, and Laurissa spoke with Ayalnesh to find out that schools were still closed indefinitely because of the shooting and Kemant issues. Morgan, Laurissa and I have been checking in with other and supporting each other through this difficult time.
I returned back from Addis on Sunday and have been at the Lodge since. Our Regional Office Manager came to Gondar yesterday to try and find out more information. When he got to Gondar, we found out that there might be a Kemant protest in Gondar city which complicated the situation. We also found out that one of the high priests from the Kemant passed away (interesting timing yes?).
So, this morning we had to move to a new hotel in Gondar outside of the city center in case there is a protest that turns ugly and we have to evacuate to Bahir Dar.
The Regional Manger went to Aykel today and will be talking with a lot of different people trying to get information. It will be a big factor in what happens next for us.
So, that’s my life right now. Keep your fingers crossed that I can go back to Aykel soon and be with Nesra and the girls. I want to go home! <3