2011.01.21: January 21, 2011: Vai Sikahema writes: Members of the LDS Church handle issues of safety for the 50,000-plus missionary force by instructing their volunteers around the world and throughout their missions to work and stay in pairs and I wondered, as I watched the story of Kate Puzey's murder, if her life could have been spared had she had a companion at her side

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Benin: Peace Corps Benin : Peace Corps Benin: Newest Stories: 2011.01.14: January 14, 2011: Report by ABC News 20/20: Parents of Slain Volunteer Kate Puzey Say Peace Corps Error Led to Murder: 2011.01.14: January 14, 2011: Murder of Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Puzey Raises Questions On Safety Of Volunteers : 2011.01.21: January 21, 2011: Vai Sikahema writes: Members of the LDS Church handle issues of safety for the 50,000-plus missionary force by instructing their volunteers around the world and throughout their missions to work and stay in pairs and I wondered, as I watched the story of Kate Puzey's murder, if her life could have been spared had she had a companion at her side

By Admin1 (admin) (98.188.147.225) on Saturday, May 28, 2011 - 10:24 am: Edit Post

Vai Sikahema writes: Members of the LDS Church handle issues of safety for the 50,000-plus missionary force by instructing their volunteers around the world and throughout their missions to work and stay in pairs and I wondered, as I watched the story of Kate Puzey's murder, if her life could have been spared had she had a companion at her side

Vai Sikahema writes: Members of the LDS Church handle issues of safety for the 50,000-plus missionary force by instructing their volunteers around the world and throughout their missions to work and stay in pairs and I wondered, as I watched the story of Kate Puzey's murder, if her life could have been spared had she had a companion at her side

"I have enormous respect for the Peace Corps. Though we're very civic minded as Latter-day Saints, the Peace Corps isn't something we've traditionally engaged in, I suppose because of the missionary program. If you're not LDS, I think it's the closest thing to missionary service that exists. Except, it's not. Despite the goodwill the Peace Corps creates around the world for America, it is still a government agency that is bureaucratic, political and sadly, at least in the case of the young women I saw in the 20/20 story, seems to serve its own interest first before its volunteers."

Vai Sikahema writes: Members of the LDS Church handle issues of safety for the 50,000-plus missionary force by instructing their volunteers around the world and throughout their missions to work and stay in pairs and I wondered, as I watched the story of Kate Puzey's murder, if her life could have been spared had she had a companion at her side

Missions and safety

Author: Vai Sikahema

Source: Deseret News

21 January 2011 11:45am

The news of the death of Elder Jermaine Luther Walker in Kingston, Jamaica, this week made me think about missionary safety and its context relative to another volunteer group: The Peace Corps.

Last Sunday, I happened upon an ABC 20/20 story about a young Peace Corpolunteer from Atlanta named Kate Puzey, who was killed in Africa in March 2009. She was stabbed as she slept on her porch, allegedly by a fellow male African teacher. The story included a half dozen female former Peace Corps volunteers who served throughout the world, recounting being sexually assaulted, beaten and raped during their service. Of the nearly 8,000 current Peace Corps volunteers around the globe, 60 percent of them are women.

The story was an indictment on how the Peace Corps failed these young people, as it closed ranks as an organization to protect its image rather than protect its volunteers. I was especially interested because I had Peace Corps teachers as a boy in elementary school in Tonga. Over the years, the families of Peace Corps volunteers from the Philadelphia area serving in Tonga would contact me with questions about my country and to connect me to their sons and daughters. Currently, I e-mail weekly with a young man named Todd Freedman from Philly who teaches middle school on the island of Ha'apai. My wife and I have hosted dinners for many of these kids and their families when they return from Tonga, as a token of our appreciation for their service to my people. Without fail, every single Peace Corps volunteer we've met have been incredibly bright (they're required to be college grads), idealistic and simply, good.

I have enormous respect for the Peace Corps. Though we're very civic minded as Latter-day Saints, the Peace Corps isn't something we've traditionally engaged in, I suppose because of the missionary program. If you're not LDS, I think it's the closest thing to missionary service that exists. Except, it's not. Despite the goodwill the Peace Corps creates around the world for America, it is still a government agency that is bureaucratic, political and sadly, at least in the case of the young women I saw in the 20/20 story, seems to serve its own interest first before its volunteers.

Contrast that with how the LDS Church handles issues of safety for the 50,000-plus missionary force. They are instructed in the numerous Missionary Training Centers around the world and throughout their missions to work and stay in pairs. I wondered, as I watched the story of Kate Puzey's murder, if her life could have been spared had she had a companion at her side. Of course, there are accidents and violence from time to time, but given the sheer number of missionaries serving worldwide, missionary deaths are actually very rare.

The LDS Church employs 80 fulltime volunteer physicians worldwide and another 200 or so nurses and medical personnel to care for the missionary force. The infrastructure of missionary work itself helps assure safety mission president, assistants to the president, zone leaders, district leaders and companionships provide a chain of command for reporting and are instructed to avoid placing missionaries in unsafe places. As local church leaders, we are often consulted by the mission president about the safe placement of missionaries, especially sisters. The work must penetrate every clime, so thank goodness for 19- and 20-year-old elders who willingly serve in our inner cities and other dangerous places.

As a local church leader here in the East, sometimes I can't believe where I find myself. As a bishop, I once had to go with our ward mission leader to confiscate a gun from a woman who threatened to shoot her husband when he returned from work, which I later turned over to police. Another time, a counselor and I went to move a pregnant ward member from her home and secretly moved her to a home for battered women while her abusive husband was away on a military assignment. Another time, a new member who had evicted her live-in boyfriend before her baptism was beaten and thrown out the window of her second-story apartment by that boyfriend, fracturing both hips and her back.

As we learned from the shooting death of Bishop Clay Sannar of the Visalia, Calif., ward last year, sometimes there's simply no explanation for why violence happens or anyway to defend ourselves. We just do our best and hope for providential protection. We know from scripture that hardship falls "on the just and on the unjust..." Matt 5:45

I also read with interest this week the story of BYU basketball player Chris Collinsworth's unprovoked attack by thugs as he and his companion were returning home after a day of teaching in Australia.

The last of my three sons is returning home in June from his mission in London, England. We pray daily for him, but all of us who send children on missions do so with the understanding that part of that commitment may include the ultimate sacrifice. As stated, it's rarely required but on occasion, it happens. Our son hasn't had any problems and we trust and have faith it will remain so. All week we've included the Walkers of Kingston, Jamaica, in our prayers as have many who don't even know them. We do take solace in Elder M. Russell Ballard's words, "The safest place in the world for 19- to 21-year-old young men and 21-year-old young women is in the service of the Lord in the mission field, scattered out over the four corners of the earth."




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: January, 2011; Peace Corps Benin; Directory of Benin RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Benin RPCVs; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Crime; Murder; Television; Criticism





When this story was posted in May 2011, this was on the front page of PCOL:




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Congress held hearings on the sexual assault of Peace Corps volunteers. Read the testimony of returned and current Peace Corps volunteers on how the problem is still ongoing, and not limited to any particular country or region. Director Williams says that "it has become apparent to me that the Peace Corps has not always been sufficiently responsive or sensitive to victims of crime and their families. I sincerely regret that." Read what the Peace Corps is doing to address the issue.

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As the Peace Corps' Founding Director Sargent Shriver laid the foundations for the most lasting accomplishment of the Kennedy presidency. Shriver spoke to returned volunteers at the Peace Vigil at Lincoln Memorial in September, 2001 for the Peace Corps 40th. "The challenge I believe is simple - simple to express but difficult to fulfill. That challenge is expressed in these words: PCV's - stay as you are. Be servants of peace. Work at home as you have worked abroad. Humbly, persistently, intelligently. Weep with those who are sorrowful, Care for those who are sick. Serve your wives, serve your husbands, serve your families, serve your neighbors, serve your cities, serve the poor, join others who also serve," said Shriver. "Serve, Serve, Serve. That's the answer, that's the objective, that's the challenge."

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ABC News has investigated the murder of Benin PCV Kate Puzey. Read our original coverage of the crime, comments on Peace Corps actions, the email Puzey sent her country director about sexual incidents with Puzey's students and with another PCV, the backstory on how RPCVs helped the Puzey family, and Peace Corps' official statement. PCOL Editorial: One major shortcoming that the Puzey murder highlights is that Peace Corps does not have a good procedure in place for death notifications.

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Story Source: Mormon Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Benin; Safety; Crime; Murder; Television; Criticism

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