Sunday, March 22, 2009

Probably most of you reading this by now know that one of our volunteers in Benin, Kate Puzey, was murdered last week. Even after the short amount of time that I spent with her, I can say with complete confidence that Kate was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. I will never forget her smile. This world is a sadder place for having lost her. It's been really hard for all of the volunteers here, and especially those in her training group who have been with her in-country all along.

I very much understand and even appreciate everyone's concern at home. But as far as we know, this was a tragic but isolated incident. I do not feel any more unsafe now than I ever have since coming to Benin. I knew when I left home that Peace Corps could not launch me into my post with a protective bubble around me for 2 years. I signed onto living in a West African country as a single white woman alone. I know the risks that that brings, and so do my parents. And I understand better than most from home what that actually entails. That is why I always do what I can do to be safe. As much as I understand peoples' concerns for my safety, I just wanted to say that suggesting I come home, or emphasizing the danger of being here isn't what I necessarily need to hear right now. I am staying in Benin. If I left now, I would only ever look back at it with regret. That is a decision that might not be right for everyone right now, but it is what is right for me. This has been really hard for everyone here. What I need right now is support, like I've always been fortunate enough to receive, from my friends and family at home. If or when I ever feel as though enough is enough here in terms of incidents against volunteers, I will know. And I will make the decision to go for myself.

Please keep Kate, her family and friends, and the Peace Corps Benin community in your prayers.


Aunt Loretta said...

Hi Cat .... Yet again you amaze me. I completely understand your sentiments and respect and admire you for not being one to give up or walk away. Although I am concerned for your safty, I also know that what happened to Kate could happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime. I also have no doubt that Kate will continue to be with each of the PCV's serving in Benin now and forever. You stay Catherine and continue to do what you went to Benin to accomplish. As I've told you before, you are an amazing individual and I couldn't be prouder of you if you were my own daughter. Be well and know that I love you and will keep you, Kate, Kate's Family and Friends and all PCV's in my thoughts and prayers on a regular basis! All my love, Aunt Loretta

Maman et Papa said...

Our dearest daughter,
We cannot express our thoughts for Kate's parents in sufficient words or deeds. What they have gone through in the past few days we cannot express in a few words. What we have felt about this incident cannot be told in words alone.
We also cannot tell you enough: what you are doing is remarkable. When we first spoke to you regarding this we told you that even if you only change one life, it would be worth what you are going through. We know you change many more even with your smile or simple "bonjour."
Do we want you home, oh yes, from the first day you left. Are we counting the days when you come home just for a brief stay? Oh yes. Will we count again the days until we see you again? OH YES. But know this, YOUR decision is ours and we stand behind you one thousand percent!
We love you so much and know that you are a strong and intelligent person and if you felt the slightest danger you would be coming home. We also know that once you set yourself onto a path, you do not quit.
God bless you and know our prayers are with you as well as our backing!
Love you to Mars and back!

Catherine said...

Hey dude,
I think posting your thoughts on the subject is a good idea...wonder whoever gave you that idea? :) So far, there's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't wonder how you're doing / what you're up to. I feel sooo horrible for Kate's family, but like you, she dedicated her time to helping others, and that is admirable indeed. No matter what you hear from home, or abroad, just listen to your intuition. Ever since we were little, you wouldn't let anyone bully you or impact your behavior or attitude, why start now? Even though I still think you should declare cherry as the best flavor for italian ice, not your icky flavor, hehe. Just kidding! It is obvious you are missed and very much loved by all of your family and friends, but do what's best for you. Maintain the "Catherine-ness" buddy and of course be safe. Miss ya oodles! Me

P.S. But hey still counting the days till you get home, then we can have a Grey's Anatomy marathon with brownies!