Friday, June 23, 2006

[Guinean news] Life returns to normal after strike

The IRIN news service reports that life is slowly returning to normal in Guinea after a 'crippling' nine-day general strike. The work stoppage was arguably the most significant in the history of independent Guinea and resulted in at least 15 deaths as the authorities fired on protesters. The strike was called off last Friday when the government agreed to salary increases of up to 25 percent for bureaucrats and made significant concessions to teachers as well.

Ordinary citizens will benefit as well. Though the government would not budge on the price of fuel It did agree to lower the price of a 50-kilogramme bag of rice by 25,000 Guinean francs, or US $5, to 85,000 Guinean francs, or US $17.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

[Guinean news] At least 15 killed during clashes with police, soldiers

Rioting has hit several Guinean cities during the unlimited general strike launched a few days ago.

Conakry was hit by violence as protesters manned flaming roadblocks and battled riot police, according to CNN.

Other news agencies reported at least nine protesters killed by the authorities in Conakry, three in Labé and three in N'Zérékoré

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for a peaceful resolution to the tension.

Friday, June 09, 2006

[Guinean news] Indefinite general strike launched

Earlier this year, the Guinean labor movement launched a several day general strike to target the high cost of living. The mere fact that that general strike was largely respected was a major success for Guinea's trade union movement, which has been traditionally weak, unlike that in Nigeria. The success of that action in highlighting the skyrocketing cost of living in the country led labor leaders to call an indefinite general strike. That strike started yesterday and was 'widely respected,' according to the IRIN news service.

Interior Minister Moussa Solano announced a wage rise for government workers on the eve of the strike, which would've amounted to an extra less than $1 a day. But the announcement cut no ice with the unions. Labor organizations are calling for areduction in fuel prices and the national staple food, rice.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

[News about FOG members] Guinea TEFL RPCVs Celebrate 20th-year Reunion

RPCV Edward Van Luinen was an attendee at a recent reunion of '87-89 Guinea TEFL volunteers. He offers the following recap:

Over Memorial Day weekend 2006, five Guinea 87-89 TEFL RPCVs gathered from across the country for their 20th year reunion titled “Reconnecting, Learning and Relaxing” at the Coolfont Resort and Spa in Berkeley Springs, WV. A wonderful weekend of reminiscing, food and fun was planned at this lush, idyllic setting in eastern West Virginia.

Those RPCVs in attendance included: Zlie Moriniere (N’Zerekore), Anne Irving (Kankan), Miki Johnson (Faranah), Sim Seo (Kindia) and Edward Van Luinen (Kissidougou). Another TEFLer, Jill Shumann (Mamou), and husband and fellow Guinea RPCV, Richard, planned to attend but for good reasons became the proud parents of a baby girl that same weekend.

On Saturday, we welcomed the one-and-only Tafsir Thiam, former APCD, and Blessing Asuquo, Guinea RPCV, for a lunch, followed by each of their presentations to the group. Tafsir prepared a lovely speech, in French, covering the history of Peace Corps Guinea, his role, and his current status living in the U.S. He kindly made copies for everyone as a memento. Blessing then spoke of her dynamic Peace Corps experience as an Agro-Forestry Volunteer in the Fouta. We were thrilled to have Tafsir and Blessing join us for the afternoon and provide wonderful context and up-to-date information on Guinea and Peace Corps’ work there.

Another highlight of the weekend was watching the multi-media presentation Zlie Moriniere created for us. She showcased each Volunteer in pictures, songs and written memories and then provided each of us with a copy of the presentation. To be sure, it was a warm and fuzzy moment.

Time at the reunion was also spent catching up during happy hours and meals, hiking, spa treatments, and looking at our pictures from Guinea and current ones of partners, families and pets. An interesting phenomenon when talking about our experiences twenty years ago was that each of us remembered different things that others had forgotten. Over our restaurant steak dinner on Sunday evening, clad in our reunion weekend t-shirts, we all shared the impact that Peace Corps had on us. We came to the consensus that, yes, it is still the toughest job you’ll ever love.

On Monday morning we disbanded to points afar, exhilarated in the affirmation that our Peace Corps Guinea experience has afforded us lifelong friendships.

-Edward Van Luinen