1: Somalia is a large country (246,201 square miles) on the Horn of Africa. It has a population of over 10 million people.
2: Somalia is frequently mentioned in the news due to the high rate of piracy in the area.
4: They people there have a rich culture which includes agriculture and goods which they trade in open markets.
5: However there is a lot of conflict between nations in this area as well making it very dangerous.
6: The Somalia is a democratic republic and have created a detailed constitution with strong focus on Muslim guidelines.
7: However, the government is not truly effective in many parts of the country, so the crime rate remains high.
8: Women and men are treated with equal respect in Somalia and arranged marriages (usually between distant family members) are very typical
9: Dating in the sense that we know it does not exist in Somalia. Unwed Men and women can only participate together in traditional dance and similar customs. Also, divorce is legal in Somalia and does occur.
11: Somalia is in constant conflict with surrounding nations. Also the frequent capture of American and European ships by pirates has created hostility with further parts of the world.
12: Somalia is a fairly poor nation and relies on trade to get by. Unfortunately their currency does not hold much value.
14: Dear Mom & Dad, I am doing okay here in Somalia. The warm weather is beautiful here and if you get out away fro m the coast there is a variet of thick jungle and some desert like areas. I haven’t gotten to talk to many people yet, but I really hope to soon. Many here seem scared and on edge a lot of the time. I guess in some areas here it can get really dangerous. When we arrived we were told to stay away from the coast, because that is where pirates live, which I thought was really cool. Another thing I’ve noticed here is that people all act pretty much the same around here. They eat the same foods, live in the same type of housing, and where the same type of clothing. There isn’t a whole lot of individuality around Somalia which is kind of dissappointing. However, we haen’t been aloud outside the area of the hotel since we got here I have no idea what we might find once we actually start going out and helping people. This country does look a little beat up, but I don’t think it is actually as terrifying as the media tends to portray it. Besides, I didn’t spend years learning to speak Somali and learning Somali customs just to sit in a hotel room. I want to go out and do some good and make a difference. That’s all for now, I love you guys and I’ll writes you again soon. Love, Sean Vermeire
15: Dear Mom & Dad, I’m still doing pretty well over here. We finally got out of the hotel and went exploring a little. I mean we didn’t leave the bus, but we made some progress. We drove down to the capital city of Mogadishu which wasn’t all that bad, from the outside. I did manage to talk to a guy from outside my window to learn a little bit about their culture. Apparently people within a family eat their food at different times (if they can afford to). The men are usually served first and then women and children. In fact if the family is eating out the women may sometimes eat in another room. I thought that was kind of cool. Anyway, the guy also told me the government in Somalia is not very strong and isn’t really capable of dealing with the extremely high rate of pirates and criminals. The more of this country I see, the more I understand why this place is showed on the news as being so dangerous. As we were driving by a neighborhood I saw a small boy holding and AK-47 assault rifle. I’m open to new cultures but seeing things like that really makes me miss home. As we started back to the hotel I started noticing people were giving us dirty looks. I’m starting to wonder if we are really going to be able to help these people, or if they want our help at all. I’m going to see if there is a way to get me transferred home sooner rather than later. I love you both a lot and I hope to be home soon. Love, Sean Vermeire
16: Dear Mom & Dad (or anyone who finds this letter), I am no longer safe nor do I want to experience this culture anymore. For some idiotic reason we convinced the leader of our group to take us along the coast to give people food and supplies, but it went horribly wrong. When we got close to the beach, the tires of our bus were shot out. About three men armed with machine guns came on board and took four of us hostage, the others including the bus driver didn’t make it. The put bags over our heads and locked us in some dark room, It might have been a bar or saloon because there were empty bottles every. Since I was the only one of our group who spoke both Somali and English they made translate their demands to the United States government. I am so scared to find out what their plans for us are. I overheard them talking about taking us out for exchanging us for the money. It’s odd that they only wanted a couple million from one of the richest governments in the world, but I’m not complaining if it means I get to go home. The men who captured us weren’t actually much older than us. Some looked like they were in there twenties and some looked like kids. However, these people didn’t act like children. One of my friends tried to make a “Pirates of the Caribbean” joke to lighten us up while tied up and they shot him in the head on the spot. I have never been this close to death in my entire life. It took me weeks to write this letter without getting caught and I’m not even sure if anyone will ever get it, but I need people to k now what happened here. If I don’t make it through this and this letter is found on my body, tell my family I love them so much and I wish I had never left. Love, Sean Vermeire
17: A Trip I'll Never Forget
18: 500 Somaliland Shilling Note. Photograph. Worldgeoblog.com. 5 July 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2011.
19: Traditional Somali Objects. Photograph. Burngreavemessenger.org. By Lisa Swift. 12 Jan. 2009. Web. 20 Mar. 2011.
20: The Associated Press. "Piracy at Sea." Nytimes.com. The New York Times, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.
21: Nortia Enterprises. SOMALIA-UNREST. Digital image. Flickr.com. 24 June 2009. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.