Sierra Leone

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Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone) | VESSEL
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New books by Peace Corps writers | September – October 2022
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The Volunteer who built schools in Africa . . . after leaving Peace Corps — Cindy Nofziger (Colombia)
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The Volunteer Who Was the Very Model of a Modern Foreign Service Officer | Donald Lu (Sierra Leone)
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EPITAPH by Carolyn Ladelle Bennett (Sierra Leone)
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Who Is RPCV Donald Lu?
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Review — BE STEADFAST by Bryan J. Meeker (Sierra Leone)
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“Pay The Price” by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)
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Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone) — KFAI radio interview 1/24
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Review — THE PEACE CORPS, SIERRA LEONE, AND ME by Norman Tyler (Sierra Leone)
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HuffPost publishes essay by Betsy Small Campbell (Sierra Leone)
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Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Reviewed In NYTIMES
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RPCV Artists in NYC
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Review in WSJ of Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Exhibition at Morgan Library
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Bill Fitzpatrick (Sierra Leone 1987-89) Remains Found in West Africa

Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone) | VESSEL

  Martin Puryear, Vessel, 1997-2002 Eastern white pine, mesh, tar Smithsonian American Art Museum   One of the most important American sculptors working today, Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1965-66) is known for his handmade constructions, primarily in wood. After studying painting at Catholic University in Washington, DC, he traveled extensively — teaching in Sierra Leone with the Peace Corps, studying printmaking in Stockholm from 1966 to 1968, and visiting Japan through a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982 – experiences that have shaped the artist’s practice. He creates abstract forms that are evocative and familiar, yet elude singular interpretations. Motifs like human heads, ladders, and vessels take on symbolic resonance, and function as meditations on powerful universal concepts such as freedom, shelter, sanctuary, migration, mobility, and equality.   In Vessel, a form lies facedown on the ground, the neck and crown rising up in opposite directions, like the bow and stern of a ship. Contained within this openwork structure are a solid wooden . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers | September – October 2022

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a free copy along with a few instructions. P.S. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third . . .

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The Volunteer who built schools in Africa . . . after leaving Peace Corps — Cindy Nofziger (Colombia)

  by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65)   Cindy Nofziger’s personal journey went from being a Peace Corps Volunteer at a leprosy hospital in Sierra Leone, West Africa, from 1985 to 1987 to subsequently founding “Schools for Salone” to help rebuild the national educational structure that had been destroyed by the country’s civil war that lasted from 1991-2001. In 2005, Cindy returned to Sierra Leone (also known as ‘Salone’) for the first time it was possible to do so since the end of the decade-long civil war.nThe civil war had rolled back all educational gains. Rural communities like Masanga, Cindy’s old site, were the worst hit. Schools were destroyed, or they just weren’t being built. While there, she reconnected with an old friend, John Sesay, from the 1980s. John asked Cindy to help build a community school, and . . . thus, Schools for Salone (SfS) was born. Since then, SfS has . . .

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The Volunteer Who Was the Very Model of a Modern Foreign Service Officer | Donald Lu (Sierra Leone)

(A portion of this Profile is drawn from a Peace Corps WorldWide publication of April 2022.)    by Jeremiah Norris  (Colombia 1963-65)   Donald Lu served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, 1988-90, where he helped restore hand-dug water wells, teach health education, and conduct public health programs such as latrine construction, use and maintenance. Donald graduated with an A. B. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs in 1988 after completing a 158-page long senior thesis titled “The Involvement of International Peacekeeping in Providing Humanitarian Assistance. He later received an M. P. A. from the Woodrow Wilson School in 1991. In 1990, Donald joined the U. S. Foreign Service and went on to serve in most every Office at the U. S. Department of State. Armed with a wide ranging competency in eight languages, including Chinese, Russian, Urdu, and West African Krio, his first posting . . .

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EPITAPH by Carolyn Ladelle Bennett (Sierra Leone)

  A nation dying of self-inflicted mental and moral wounds turns rabid-extremist. Leadership crippled by corruption, moral impairment, physical and mental decay, capable of nothing other than the same old thing, flails and destroys and in cowardice (likened to an infant, but powered by lethal partners), ducks responsibility and blames a made-for-the-occasion “enemy.” America’s leadership class of kleptocrats, gerontocrats, incestuous hangers-on and clingers to Washington’s revolving door are the American (anachronistic, anarchist, nihilist) extremists. They create and feed on global and national crises; and spawn America’s weakness, unpreparedness, and loss of common defense. Their age must end. Epitaph returns to the framers of the American Union, lays out the nature of present-day American extremism with critical evidence from distant headlines and information sources and context of world thinkers — originating far beyond the Washington Beltway. The work ends with advisory notes to youth, and notes toward forming a “More Perfect . . .

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Who Is RPCV Donald Lu?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday revealed the name of the US official who allegedly threatened the PTI government, putting the ties with Washington at risk. The premier had made the revelation during an interaction with the party lawmakers after a televised address in which he congratulated the nation for “foiling the international conspiracy” and announced that he has advised the president to dissolve the assembly. While briefing his MNAs about the political situation in the country, he had said that US State Dept official Donald Lu (Sierra Leone 1988-90) is behind this “conspiracy” against the PTI government due to an independent foreign policy. PM Imran Khan in a public rally on March 27 had claimed that a foreign power had interfered in the national affairs of the country and attempted to dislodge his government. At that time he did not name the country and the official but in his . . .

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Review — BE STEADFAST by Bryan J. Meeker (Sierra Leone)

    Be Steadfast: A Peace Corps Volunteer Journey in Sierra Leone By Bryan J. Meeker (Sierra Leone 2011-13) 361 pages CreateSpace March 2019 $9.99 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Where to begin? Bryan Meeker has written a wonderful memoir of his Peace Corps service in Sierra Leone. I’ll start with a synopsis from the back cover: “Be Steadfast” is a deeply personal memoir of a Peace Corps volunteer’s service in Sierra Leone. Absent during the decade-long devastating conflict, the Peace Corps returned in 2010 as a symbol of unity and progress. While the Peace Corps had worked in Sierra Leone for decades before the war, many of the traditions and cultural norms changed, leaving these new volunteers to forge brave new paths. Being a volunteer is a transformative experience, expressed in this work with honesty and with an immense amount of love. Not . . .

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“Pay The Price” by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)

  Pay the Price by Robert Gribbin (Kenya 1968–70) • I WATCHED HIS TWO BROWN FINGERS thump against my arm. “Aha,” he muttered under his breath, then I saw the needle poised slowly before it plunged into the vein. Has it come to this? I thought morosely as I slipped away into somnolence while my blood dripped into the bag. Shortly, I awoke with a start to find Mamadou grinning down at me. “Okay, Jimmie,” he grimaced, “all done.” “You rest until dark, then go. Arrangements are in place. You’ll be safe.” I nodded assent. I was indeed ready to go.   TWO AND A HALF YEARS in Sierra Leone was more than enough. I had dawdled and procrastinated, found myself bound by slippery ties to a place that I didn’t really like and to a culture that I could not fathom. Yet that is partly why I stayed to try . . .

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Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone) — KFAI radio interview 1/24

  On Tuesday, Jan 24th, 7pm to 8pm,CST,  KFAI (“Radio without Boundaries”), 90.3FM & 106.7FM from Minneapolis/St. Paul, will interview Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone 1966–68) on its show “Write On! Radio”about his Peace Corps memoir From Freeborn to Freetown & Back. KFAI can be heard on the TuneIn app. From Freeborn to Freetown & Back Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone 1966–68) Peace Corps Writers September 2016 146 pages $14.95 (paperback), $10.00 (Kindle)

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Review — THE PEACE CORPS, SIERRA LEONE, AND ME by Norman Tyler (Sierra Leone)

  The Peace Corps, Sierra Leone, and Me Norman Tyler (Sierra Leone 1964–66) CreateSpace August 2015 191 pages $12.50 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73) • THIS MEMOIR IS ABOUT THE JOURNEY of a naïve 19-year-old who joins the Peace Corps and heads “up-country” to Kenema, Sierra Leone, on the Liberian border, from 1964 to 1966. His trek was about seven years before my PCV experience in Guatemala, after which I eventually arrived in Sierra Leone with my family as the director of an international child care agency. My experience there allowed me to commiserate with much of Norman’s story. Upon my arrival in Sierra Leone, I remember thinking, “And I thought I knew what poverty was — and diseases — lassa fever and green monkey disease — yikes!” (I don’t remember Ebola being mentioned, but you get the picture). I’ve always admired the PCVs who served and were able to survive . . .

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HuffPost publishes essay by Betsy Small Campbell (Sierra Leone)

Huffington Post has published If You Plant Rice, You Get Rice by Betsy Small Campbell (Sierra Leone 1984–87) — an essay about her country of service, the diamond war, and the children of war. She is currently working on a book about her time in the Peace Corps called Before, Before.

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Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Reviewed In NYTIMES

In the New York Times, on Friday, December 25, 2015, there was an article about Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) and his current art exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum. It was written by Jason Farago. Puryear’s exhibition entitled, “Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions” continues through January 10, 2016 at the Morgan. The exhibition will then travel to Chicago where it was first organized by the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, it will go to Washington and the Smithsonian. Puryear is from Washington, graduated from Catholic University of America, then joined the Peace Corps. In West Africa he drew proficient sketches of local architecture, palm trees and cactuses, and a few Sierra Leoneans he met while teaching English, French and biology. After his tour, he studied printmaking in Sweden and then attended Yale, where he turned to doing sculptures. Puryear is our most famous of RPCV artist and I did . . .

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RPCV Artists in NYC

I heard recently from Dan Ingala, Public Affairs Specialist at the Peace Corps Northeast Office in New York, about the Peace Corps Art Show that has been organized for the last three years by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New York. Dan connected me to Sarah Porter (Macedonia 2005-07) president of the group and vice president Nicole Ethier (Indonesia 2011-13) Sarah wrote me in an email that the show started in Brooklyn at the co-working space called BrooklynWorks 159, saying, “Some of the art is based on or shaped by the Peace Corps experience – there have been several pieces that were made during the volunteer’s experience – but many pieces are independent of that.” BrooklynWork 159 is owned by an RPCV, Vic Puri (Samoa 2002-04), and as Sarah says, “it is not only beautiful and conducive to becoming an art gallery for an evening, having the exhibition at an RPCV-owned . . .

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Review in WSJ of Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Exhibition at Morgan Library

The Wall Street Journal on November 24, 2015, had a review of Martin Puryear‘s : Multiple Dimensions show at The Morgan Library & Museum. Reviewer Lance Esplund writes “The 74-year-old American sculptor Martin Puryearis a consummate craftsman. As a skilled young wood-worker, he made furniture, guitars and canoes. And from an early age, he has been interested in the natural sciences and once considered becoming a wildlife illustrator.” In the Peace Corps (Sierra Leone 1964-66) , he taught  biology, French, English, and art at the secondary school level in a rural Sierra Leone. The village carpenters who made furniture for his classroom impressed him with the level of their craftsmanship. While he studied biology at Catholic University, he took painting classes in his junior year and continued his adolescent interest in nature by making detailed drawings of birds and insects. After the Peace Corps he went to Stockholm and entered . . .

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Bill Fitzpatrick (Sierra Leone 1987-89) Remains Found in West Africa

Bill Fitzpatrick was a Park Ranger and airplane pilot for 25 years transporting people by air, boat and or by motor vehicle from remote locations throughout the US and in two parks in Africa. He responded to emergency law enforcement, search and rescue, medical and fire incidents. He also worked to save wild lands throughout the world by working in a variety of National and International Parks. A husband to Paula, and father of children,  Mary, Matthew and Cody, Bill disappeared on a flight in West Africa on June 22, 2013. This week his remains were found by villagers in Cameroon at a crash site in mountainous terrain where his Cesssna 172 went down. Bill was working as an anti-poaching pilot for one of the largest national wildlife preserves in Africa. Reports are that there was no foul play involving his death. Today his family is just grateful to have answers to . . .

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