Been receiving a number of phone calls and emails from concerned friends and family (thanks, guys, love you!) so I just wanted to give a quick update that while I’m terribly saddened and a bit shaken over the violent death of a Peace Corp volunteer in Maseru, I am safe and unharmed. I didn’t know Tom personally but we had mutual friends and I had considered stopping by the party he was leaving when he was shot.
There have been a few other very serious incidents recently — a friend of mine who is volunteering with the UN was mugged at knifepoint just around the corner from my house and a teacher at the American International School was shot and killed over the weekend. And in March, another PCV was attacked and sexually assaulted in Maseru. But, despite these stories and any alarmist media reports you might hear, Maseru is not a terribly unsafe place. Of course, heightened caution and vigilance should always be exercised but I’ve lived here for almost two years now and the worse thing to have happened to me was an attempted mugging of my cell phone … and that barely counts, since the attacker definitely suffered more of a beating at my hand than I did at his. And I got my phone back. So these attacks are awful and regrettable and too common but Maseru is still a generally safe place if you know the places and times to avoid.
Anyway, I am one of the undeserving fortunate few who live in a house whose every door and window has burglar bars, has an alarm and a panic button connected to a security company, surrounded by a wall topped with intimidating metal spikes and a locked gate, and a security guard who does rounds every night from 6pm to 6am. I hardly ever walk around town, preferring to drive instead, always with my car doors locked, and I don’t stop at red lights at night. Ever. These factors alone put me at significantly less risk than the Peace Corps volunteers, whose only security requirement is a front door that locks and who don’t make enough money to have a car or take taxis, so they usually walk to places.
But thanks to all of you who checked in with me. Worry not. Right now, my larger concern is with Tom, his family, and the other 90-something Peace Corps volunteers in Lesotho. May consolation, comfort and security find them wherever they are.