Monday, October 10, 2005

Someone Please Slap Me

I wish this was a fevered dream brought on by Larium. But it's not. I meant to come on today and write a little about our All-Volunter Conference, about Lake Mainstay and all the fun we had. Instead, I have some horrible news to report.

Our beloved Country Director, Kumar Lakhavani, was fired over the weekend. More accurately, he resigned under duress. I found out about it this morning when I came in to check my e-mail. A couple of high-level admin people have apparently bellyached about him for many months. I know who one of them is for sure, and I'm so angry I could spit bullets. This guy is an ineffective policy-maker and totally untrustworthy. (He once asked me, with a smirk on his face, if I'd "hooked up" yet in Guyana -- i.e., had sex. This was on the same visit where he dismissed my grievances about my homestay housing where I have no running water, no privacy, no furniture, and my host frequently having sex in the next room.)

I don't know exactly what the grievance was, but here is my personal take on the matter: As the CD, Kumar was able to bring a positive energy back into Peace Corps Guyana, which had suffered heavy losses under the yoke of the former CD, Earl Brown. All the volunteers loved him because he brought back the attitude that the volunteers' needs come FIRST, and that the staff and admin are here for us, not the other way around. Notably, Kumar even received a standing ovation at the recent All-Volunteer Conference, whereas some of his inferiors (in every sense of the term!) received poor ranks in a Volunteer Action Committee survey. Some of the admin (who received such poor rankings) are holdovers from Earl Brown's reign and from what I understand liked his condescending attitude toward the volunteers. They found Kumar to be too soft on volunteers, too buddy-buddy.

And so now Captain Bligh has held a mutiny against Fletcher Christian.

Here's the e-mail. To be on the safe side, I'm deleting any specific names or titles for those responsible. If you really want to know more, check the PeaceCorpsGuyana Yahoo Group.

Apparently ******** ******* and another staff member have been calling and complaining for months now and Kumar has been fired. I think they let go of the wrong staff member. If you want to contact Peace Corps, I would suggest it...I couldn't find the best email but you can either contact them at this address:

or here:

Or call here: 800.424.8580

I am very disappointed and very upset, as Kumar gave a lot of hope to
volunteers that were fed up.

Kumar was awesome, he really connected with the volunteers. This is
the letter I wrote to Peace Corps in support of him.

"I was a volunteer under both Earl Brown and Kumar Lahkavani in Guyana. The year and a half under Mr. Brown was absolutely a disaster. Many volunteers, like myself, avoided the office, avoided staff avoided Mr. Brown when possible. The office, our "safe haven" was anything but comfortable. Many of us hated our Peace Corps part of life, the part where we had to speak with folks at the office, had to come in, had to deal with the negativity. When Kumar arrived, it was like a ray of was awesome and my experience turned completely around. I am glad he came.

So my question is, has anyone actually been to Guyana to see how he operates? To see how happy the volunteers are? Mr. *******, who is a large part of his dismissal, is incompetent. I've been around long
enough to hear the stories, see the man in action and been affected by his decisions. I think there needs to be a real evaluation as to who needs to be dismissed and who needs to stay. I am guessing you have no idea that this is going to seriously affect the volunteers and RPCV's from Guyana. What a huge demoralizer. Did you know Kumar
received a standing ovation from the volunteers at the AVC Conference?

I understand there are plenty of issues with the Guyanese post, but
Kumar is not the biggest of your problems....if you want to know about corruption in the office, I can tell you. I have seen and witnessed very despicable things on the part of the Guyanese staff, I will be more than glad to share them with you. You are making a huge mistake letting Kumar go. You really are.

***** ******
RPCV, Guyana
2003 - 2005"

This is a travesty. The person responsible for this is the one who should have been fired. Please, if you would like to support our cause, go to the our petition on the Petition and add your name to ours. This petition is only the first of many actions. Mr. ******* thought he was getting rid of a little pest, but has unwittingly declared war on 60+ volunteers. Where this will end, who knows. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Catt said...

I tried to sign the petition but the link just went to a large list and I couldn't find your petition by searching for Kumar's name or by searching under "peace corp"... a little help?