Coming Clean #4: Drain & Spin

Time to Come Clean: One of Our Work Sites was Attacked by Six Street Thugs

When I got home, I heard that her school had been attacked by 6 street thugs with knives, broken glass, and bricks. She had to hide in her classroom, which has see-through windows and a see-through door. She stood behind a wall-divider for the hour that the fight went on. Police arrived 45 minutes into the fight. When she was actually able to step out into the courtyard, she said there was blood all over the students who had fought in the fight. It was a series of blood-covered wife beaters being put into the back of a police car. She saw a bloody butcher knife on the ground outside her room, too.

These were the few notes that I made in my journal back in September about one of the more significant events of this year for my community and me. If you cannot tell, I’m describing how one of our work sites, a school, was attacked by six men off of the street. In Guyana, they call them “street thugs.” They attacked the school to take revenge on one of the students who had ticked them off earlier in the week. Many of the students fought back as their school came under attack, likely out of confusion and self defense. My roommate hid in her classroom for an hour while the fight went on. I remember her recalling the story and telling me about how every so often she would peak around the corner of her hiding spot and see the shadows of people fighting outside. It took the police so long to arrive. Most of the other staff had locked themselves in their classrooms and offices, out of the way of harm. My roommate didn’t have a lock on her door, but she was never bothered—no one knew she was there. When the police did arrive, the attackers just started fighting the police, so the chaos continued for another 15 minutes. When it was over, everyone just locked up and left the school.

I first learned about the fight as I was leaving school. One of the staff members from this other school had dropped by and told me that my roommate would have a story to share with me when I got home. When I asked for details, she made it seem like there was a minor spat at school. When I got home, I found out the truth. Apparently, people were already trying to minimize what had happened.

My roommates and I waited all night for our phone to ring. We were certain someone would try to call us to check in, see how our community was doing. After all, we had only lived in Guyana three weeks. Was this going to be the norm? To our disbelief, the phone never rang. When my roommate was finally able to connect with our “contact person”, she was met with a discouraging response. “Oh, were you scared?”

From that point forward, my three roommates and I were well aware that we were completely on our own for the year in terms of ground support. Once a month, a check would fall out of the sky to pay our rent and grocery bill, but the emotional and mental support was all going to have to come from each other. This was truly a challenge. It put a strain on community. But, in the end, it made us all stronger people. We truly took this country head on, street thugs and all. Looking back on it, we really took this difficult event in stride, especially my roommate who experienced it first hand. It’s looking at events like this that remind me how we fought through this year every so often.

Just in case someone ever tries to down play the story, these are the important facts again: Six street thugs with knives and broken glass attacked the school for forty-five minutes before help arrived.


Reason this entry didn’t see the light of day until now: I think I was trying to protect Mercy Volunteer Corps. But, I realize now, this is just something that happens every so often. This isn’t the norm, but obviously, it can happen. It happened this year. No one could have predicted it, no one could have prevented it. I think it’s best the story be out in the open now.

About mattylife

"And no one is a stranger...for long."
This entry was posted in Guyana, South America and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Coming Clean #4: Drain & Spin

  1. Larry says:


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