As I mentioned before, former fellow Birganj-wallah Rob departed Nepal. On his last day in country, he hired an elephant to take him from his hotel to the Peace Corps office to hand-in his final paperwork.
It’s lovely living in a place where the elephant is just as much of a zoo attraction as a mode of transportation.Here’s an article from The Himalayan Times about the recent developments with the pre-service training that was occurring in Butwol.
Maoist fiat forces Peace Corps out
Rupandehi , November 18, 2003—Thirty American Peace Corps volunteers have been forced to leave the district following an ultimatum by an armed group of Maoists asking them to leave within six days.
The volunteers were running a temporary Peace Corps office at the Butwal Technical Institute (BIT), of the United Mission to Nepal, in Manigram VDC. It is said that the ultimatum was issued keeping in view Prachanda’s hostile attitude towards the Americans.
The volunteers left for Narayangadh with no intention of returning.
The owner of a house where nearly a dozen volunteers had put up said the Americans had come to Butwal two and a half months ago and planned to stay for around two years.
The volunteers, who could communicate in Nepali, were studying the language in Manigram VDC-2 and -4. They also used to provide financial and technical assistance to the Aama groups.
Earlier there were 36 volunteers but of late only 30 of them had been staying including some women.
They used to visit Butwal, Shankarnagar, Kariya regularly and were planning to visit Pokhara, Siraha and Bara.
Commenting on the incident, SP Dhak Bahadur Karki of District Police Office said,Though we had heard about the volunteers being asked to leave by the Maoists we have no idea whether they left due to the same reason.He said the police might be able to gather more information when a team would visit the area soon.
Accepting that the volunteers had left the VDC, the manager of BIT, Bishnu Hari Devkota, said,We did not ask them the reason for leaving and they did not tell us.
According to him some remaining Nepali staff were also planning to leave the place tomorrow.
© 2004 The Himalayan Times
At least it keeps things interesting. Still standing fast.