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feeling safe
By Arlene Batchelder 9 May 2005

Feeling safe is a good feeling. No worries. I feel safe at home in Silver Spring. Maybe I should worry, but I don't. Even with all the killings and break-ins in D.C. and surrounding areas, I still feel safe. I felt safe during our travels in Europe. There were no bars on the windows and as long as you kept your wallet someplace other than your back pocket you felt safe. I felt safe in Chili staying in the home of a local family. I felt safe during travels in Australia. I felt safe sleeping in the car at rest areas while driving to North Dakota and Texas.

Why, then in Africa, don't I feel safe? Maybe it's because of what I see people doing in an effort to feel safe. In Arusha the houses that weren't made of scraps of lumber and cloth were all fenced in with high walls. Some were made of iron and some were made of cement with broken bottles and 6 inch pieces of glass cemented on top. They had alarm systems and guard dogs.

On the ADRA compound, which is completely walled in, are Masai guards that carry big sticks. Maybe they strap knives to them at night, I don't know. They wear dark clothes and walk silently. All the windows on all the buildings have bars and all outside doors have locks. In the main house there is a lock on the door which separates the living areas from the sleeping areas. When a vehicle leaves the compound the guard opens the gate long enough for the vehicle to go through. Returning, the guard opens the gate after you blow you horn and wait. I should feel safe.

On the way back to the compound from our shopping trip to Arusha, (9 people in a Toyota Land Cruiser) I asked Max to stop the car so I could get out and go under an arch monument to take a picture of Mt. Meru. So Max stopped in the middle of the roundabout and I squeezed out from the back seat. All was going well, the sun was right so I decided to walk around to the other side. Then I noticed them, two men following me, one on each side and getting closer. One of them started motioning to me and saying something that I didn't stop to listen to because I was too busy high tailing it back to the car. I should have felt safe. I would have, had I known they were two people from our car sent out to keep an eye on me.

We are now at Maxwell Academy just outside of Nairobi. There are 12 foot walls around this place with 4 feet of electric wire on top of that. I thought I was driving into a prison. Again there was the guard at the gate. The hire the Masai who stay in small cement buildings with a cookstove and piped water. You see them in the daytime carrying sticks. At night you see them in their dark clothes in the shadows carrying bows and arrows. Again all buildings have bars on the windows and locks on the doors. The Gazelles that live here on the campus couldn't get out if they wanted to. I should feel safe.

Tomorrow we are going to climb a small mountain. We are told which trail to take to be safe. There is another climbing area that the people here no longer use because it wasn't safe from robbers.

Before coming to Africa the only safety issues for me were to keep away from snakes, avoid getting bit by mosquitoes and being careful about eating. Now, when I unexpectedly pass a Masai guard at night, feeling safe has a whole new meaning.


I would like to include a picture of a Masai guard with his bow and arrow but I understand they don't like having their picture taken. I wouldn't feel safe!
feeling safe - tanzania