We have been in country for two weeks and each step has been a monumental struggle. When I say we, I mean myself, Rich Komp our solar energy expert and Sol de la Torre Bueno who has come as a volunteer to help us organize our projects. The first week was spent seeing authorities and military commanders to allow us to go north to Agadez where we planned to continue our program to train nomads to fabricate solar panels. Finally after days of negotiations we were allowed, but only by paying for a military escort of two armed vehicles and 20 men. After the abduction and killing of two French hostages just before we arrived, security here is very tight. This is made more complicated by the elections which are bringing back civilian rule after a year of military government who took power by a coup d’etat in Jan. 2010. This was a very difficult decision to make as it is very expensive and not in our budget, but after a quick email exchange with the board we decided that to get north and complete this mission and see what is going on with the projects is crucial.
The advantages of an escort are that we never are stopped at a control post to show our papers and we feel totally safe. Our escort is composed of FINIS–the elite special forces (red berets) they are professional–never let any of us out of their sight. If we stop at the internet center they post someone at every door. It is quite a scene. The disadvantages are to always be in the midst of such a hullabaloo.