Over the past few years there have been countless news reports detailing violence inflicted upon Americans who decided to live and work overseas as Peace Corps volunteers. Of course, the decision to become a representative of the United States via the Peace Corps is not an easy decision.
Most of the time the applicants rarely think about the crime statistics of the perspective country of assignment. It is usually the last thought while swimming upstream in the application process. I know it was for me. ‘Safety? What is unsafe about Antigua? People go there all the time to vacate.’ Was my sentiment! And, I never had any reason to think differently. Even as I lived there. However, other volunteers did not have my experience: I was safe. No bodily harm. Nothing!
Not the case for Kate Puzey. This caring young lady fell victim to a random act of violence. Like numerous men and women who walk through villages and communities thousands of miles away from their home. I am sure Kate was not immune to the ruckus that human beings create. She is from Cumming, Georgia. Not far from the once and on the rise hot-bed of violence, Atlanta, Georgia. So, Kate had to be well-aware that safety is paramount. But possibly, like many PCV’s we rarely think ‘it’ can happen to us. Especially, not in a vibrant culturally-contained community. Again, not the case for Kate Puzey.
As her family prepares to continue life without her in the Great Red State and as the PC community in Benin, Africa mourn her death, I want to share a brief conversation I had with fellow returned Peace Corps volunteers. It may just help further the understanding of our experiences. They are not all the same, and no one should blanket the Peace Corps journey with untruths, misinformation, and words of unjustifiable discontent. Like several of the comments left on the WSBTV web page.
It is my hope that Peace Corps continues to be safety conscious and ever so vigilant. The PC bureaucrats are! I was one for 8.5 years. However, there has been criticism lately of Peace Corps’ safety approach. Some constructive and some unfair.
America’s best assets cannot continue to come home in body bags. These individuals leave home to be advocates of peace and love. They do not deserve for their resting place to be tagged:
Here lies returned Peace Corps volunteer, Kate Puzey; she died sharing her life abroad
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Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by Ms. Puzey. She was doing the Lord's Work!