Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace Corps suspended in Honduras

The Peace Corps is temporarily withdrawing from Honduras in January 2012 while it considers restructuring its program due to security concerns. Peace Corps Volunteers (158 of them) will be leaving for about 30 days while the Peace Corps staff re-evaluates and restructures Peace Corps in Honduras. The Peace Corps has been here for many years but, because of concerns for the security of its volunteers, it’s reassessing its programs. If they return they will probably be in fewer places. 

At the same time the Peace Corp is not sending new classes of volunteers to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala early next year as planned.  Their security concerns are high. A few weeks ago a volunteer traveling on a public bus in Honduras was shot in the leg when a passenger fired on the group which was robbing the bus.

As I have been told, for many years Honduras seems to have had one of the largest Peace Corps contingent in the world, after the Ukraine and Guatemala.

What does this mean for me? Nothing special.I feel safe, especially here in the Santa Rosa de Copán and Dulce Nombre area.

I am here because I feel God’s call to be among the people. I am very careful and generally avoid the big cities where much of the crime is. I also avoid walking or driving late at night, unless I absolutely have to. I also know what areas to avoid in Santa Rosa, especially in the evening.

I feel safe - and take all reasonable precautions. (And I have so many people who know me that I feel their care and protection.)

And so I do not contemplate leaving. As I tell my Honduran friends when they ask how long I’ll be here, I am here until God calls me somewhere else which I translate into Spanish as “Hasta que Dios quiera.”

As I thought of the pullback of the Peace Corps, I remembered a quote of Jean Donovan, the lay missionary killed by government troops in El Salvador in December 1980. Our situation here is not at all comparable with the deaths and massacres of El Salvador in the 1980s, but here words touch my heart.
 The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low, she wrote a friend. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave. Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could, except for the children, the poor, bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart could be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and loneliness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Glad to hear that you still feel safe. From some of the bits and pieces that I have read, most PCVs feel safe in their communities. It's when they are traveling between communities or into the cities for meetings that things get dicey.