Friday, January 9, 2009

Frustration in the Public Eye

I’ve been taken with a fit of frustration today -- because it was becoming necessary to check email again mid-week (there’s lots of stuff going on) and I got some news I wasn’t expecting!

And I’m stricken with the realization that sure, lots of new people are reading the blog (exciting!), but not all of them are reading the blog from the beginning. Or even reading things like the welcome post!

It’s frustrating only because of course I have the urge to share my experiences and have people understand what it’s like to live out here, but I want people to get the WHOLE PICTURE.

Firstly, we may have problems with some particularly corrupt officials here, but we also have MANY friends here whom we enjoy and cherish immensely. Stories about officials trying to get gas money, etc, I feel need to be heard, but they are, by no means, the only stories of Congolese here. We’ve met countless wonderful people here who I had previously thought I had talked about as well!

In particular, FS, who has given us countless problems here in his constant efforts to usurp the project, cannot be referred to by his actual name. Much like names we’ve given to other “characters” in our Congo story, we gave him a name that plays not only on the pop culture name “Slim Shady” but on the general stereotype of the well-dressed and rotund corrupt officials here. Yes, there is a “type” and we are certainly not making fun of FS for being rotund. I am certainly no one to judge anyone else in that respect! Fat fattism is one of my pet peeves!

And most importantly, the photos of chimpanzees that we post here are SANCTUARY chimpanzees. Yes, we have funny pictures of Aketi Kigoma during his quarantine period in the house, when it was not safe for him to be at the sanctuary facility because he had JUST been confiscated, and yes, he was not living a very chimpy life in the HOUSE with us! Of course not!

But now he is with other chimpanzees, climbing in the trees and eating chimpish food and at no point was he a PET. I spend so much of my life rallying against the dangers and evils of keeping chimpanzees as pets that the thought that anyone takes away the message from the blog of “Yay Chimp Pets!” just makes me want to cringe!

And, while I resent the idea of having to keep my blog “professional” since I feel like it is a personal account of Adam and my adventures here, please be aware that I am a professional -- this is the third sanctuary I’ve worked at and the second sanctuary I’ve helped set up and manage from scratch.

Additionally, I am also here doing my thesis research because I am trying to further the safety and protection of wild chimpanzees while working here! If I thought people would just love to read a blog about fecal parasites, maybe I’d write more about them, but in the interim, funny stories and memorable things we experience here will fill the blog instead.

I hate even having to write this entry and feeling defensive in general, but I guess that it is a potential pitfall whenever you open up your life to public scrutiny and judgment.

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