the Republic of Maldives (SFSU) – Ahead, poncho-draped silhouettes stand and kneel along the harbors edge. A passing motorcycle headlight reveals dozens of rain soaked faces staring in my direction. Neither the late hour nor the steady rain has concealed my intrusion. I walk between rows of parked motorcycles and into the ever-quieting throng of local Muslim fisherman.
Lines of approaching headlights indicate the impending arrival of additional men from the nearby villages. This bustling outdoor fish market serves as the unofficial local news hub. Tonight, the men speak ardently about the previous days arrival of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
On December 15, 2007 elements of the 11th MEU began a Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP) and a Dental Civil Action Program (DENCAP) in order to foster good will between the U.S. and the predominantly Muslim nation of the Maldives. Both Civil Action Programs are scheduled to end in just five days time.
“Who will help us after the Marines go back to their ship?” Abdulla Ibrahim, a local fisherman, asks rhetorically. “What if there are unforeseen complications? I will not let the American doctors see my family.”
Behind Abdulla, I witness the outline of a large knife in motion. The wielder, an aged fisherman, squats over a mound of dead fish. Each pass of the knife-edge cleaves through scales and bones. Rainwater combines with blood from the gutted fish and streams into the crowded street. [Read More]