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IN THIS MEMOIR, Leita chronicles her experiences as a middle-aged white woman who goes to Haiti filled with good intentions to manage Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and its community development program. What unfolds for her, however, is a hell filled with young revolutionaires and vagabons who threaten her life, and the very existence of the hospital and the program. Prompted by these experiences she delves into the mysteries of Voudou, and learns first hand about the undercurrent of terror that drives rural Haitians.
In contrast with numerous shocking incidents that occurred during her five years in Haiti, Kaldi also tells of tender adventures of her daily life, and of being inspired and comforted by many of the Haitians with whom she works — the doctors, nurses, agronomists, her housemaid, and others who teach her surprising lessons in dignity, faith and forgiveness.
Entwined with her story, Leita narrates the uplifting story of Dr. Larimer Mellon, and his wife, Gwen Grant Mellon, who founded the hospital in 1956 and spent their lives serving people in the Valley. Theirs too was an experience fraught with problems that demanded their courage, resourcefulness and dedication to the Haitian people.
IN THE FIRST SECTION OF RECOLLECTIONS . . ., the personal stories of twenty six former Peace Corps Volunteers who served with Guatemala III from 1963 to 1965 reveal a variety of motives for their joining the Peace Corps. Conspicuous among them is the profound influence of President John F. Kennedy. Many members of the group responded to his challenge to, “Ask what you can do for your country.”
Section II of the book is devoted to the Volunteers’ recollections of their service in Guatemala. Their “community development” projects scattered them throughout the country. Such projects varied greatly, but all were defined by the needs of the Guatemalans themselves. Financial backing for projects was generally meager unless creative fund-raising measures were launched. Laborers were local people, often unpaid volunteers. Great challenges were faced; inconveniences, discomforts, and “culture shock” was endured. Group members relied upon one another for support, advice, encouragement, comfort, companionship and more.
The book’s last section offers the Volunteers’ impressions of the impact of their Peace Corps service on their later lives. For most, it was pivotal and life-shaping. Their perspectives on the world were broadened and deepened. An appreciation of their own society’s freedoms, economic opportunities, scientific advancements, and creature comforts was gained. Most agree that they, not the Guatemalans, were the principal beneficiaries of the experience.
Read Lita Kaldi’s review of Recollections of Our Peace Corps Service 1963–1965
IN THE LATE 1950s, two young women at a small Midwestern college forge a friendship which will extend a lifetime and is at the core of their letter exchanges as they travel the world. Together the pair march into the ’60s, picking their way around the land mines of that liberating era. They explore their hearts, and souls, as they join the Peace Corps, writing to compare experiences, raise new questions. Never Gonna Cease My Wanderin’ is a collection of Ruth and Beryl’s letters. It pulls the reader into their worlds as Volunteers in the Philippines and Afghanistan and then their lives beyond. How will these two friends, bonded by dreams of internationalism, equal rights and a personal haven, find their way?
WEST MEETS MIDDLE EAST in this engaging story of a young American woman who follows her dream of joining the Peace Corps and is sent to live and work in a Muslim country for two years. Her Peace Corps “dream” never included random marriage proposals, or World Heritage Sites caving in on her, or run-ins with the CIA, or war. This culture shockingly fascinating story will take readers on a very personal journey to a land and a people few Americans know.
Read Kitty Thuermer’s review of The Measure of a Dream
Read John Coyne’s interview with Lora Parisien Begin
Read John Coyne’s article about promoting self-published books that talks about The Measure of a Dream
THIS COLLECTION OF STORIES draws on a deep well of experience to give us seven vignettes that play out on the Horn of Africa after colonialism. From the early optimism following independence, to the rise of Siad Barre and the collapse of his brutal dictatorship, Somalia is a detailed portrayal of the conflicted motivations and incorruptible friendships born of a beautiful and troubled country.
WILL LUTWICK, A QUIRKY MISFIT, gets an MBA at twenty-two, but soon realizes he and the American corporate world are a horrid mismatch. He joins the Peace Corps and is sent to the Fiji Islands, the quintessential tropical paradise. Will finds himself attracted to prohibited pulchritude when Rani Gupta, a beautiful, rebellious twenty-year-old from a traditional Hindu family, begins working in his office. Dating is taboo in Fiji’s large Indian community, and an interracial couple would be unprecedented. But Rani and Will soon discover their mutual attraction impossible to resist. Their liaison is clandestine, but word gets out, and a cultural firestorm engulfs Rani’s community. The two lovers are under constant threat of attack, and violence ensues. Will must confront his personal demons about courage and commitment, while Rani is treated like a pariah by her people. Will the besieged lovers stay together, or will a hostile world tear them apart?
by Tomas Belsky (Brazil 1965–67)
CreateSpace (A Peace Corps Writers Book)
$20.00 (paperback), $9.95 (Kindle)
USING REFLECTIONS of his Peace Corps years in Brazil, artist-author Tomas Belsky has created verses, short stories and illustrations that take us on a culturally revealing journey into the rich and vast poverty stricken region of Northeastern Brazil. Here we get a glimpse into the Peace Corps that is both hilarious and heart rending. Along the way we meet peasants, prostitutes and priests in a colorful vignette of America’s twin to the south.
by Frances L. Stone (Philippines 1971–73)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
THIS BOOK IS AN EASY, FUN READ for preteens through adults who are interested in Peace Corps and what it is like to be a Volunteer. It is different because it is the first book to be written for young people about Peace Corps and it is the first to be written about a Peace Corps Volunteer family — a small part of Peace Corps Volunteer history that few are aware of. It is also the first to be written from the children’s point of view. It is an easy read because it has been written in the voices of the children at the ages they were as Volunteers. Even the 3-year old has memories to share. So don’t let the simple language keep you from giving it a try. Learning about Peace Corps through these children may inspire a young person to consider being a Peace Corps Volunteer as a way of serving his/her country.
Read Barbara Joe’s review of Through the Eyes of My Children