Last night I read an article that made my heart hurt greatly. And while I understand that the media can twist the facts, there is much truth to what I read. Please know that I never intentionally want to be a Debbie Downer, but this is where my passion lies, and this not a "rainbows and sunshine" kind of post.
The article I read was about a 20/20 episode that focused on the Peace Corps, and featured a young woman named Kate Puzey. Kate was a volunteer serving in West Africa where she taught English at a local school.
Upon being informed that a fellow teacher and Peace Corps volunteer was sexually assaulting students, she sent an email to the local Peace Corps office notifying them of his actions. She requested that her identity remain anonymous so that she would stay protected.
Not long after, Kate was found murdered.
Local police held a suspect in custody -- the man Kate emailed the Peace Corps office about. This man was recently terminated from his job at the school as a direct result of Kate's email. The police and her family believe that her murder was absolutely linked to the breach of confidentiality by the Peace Corps. This beautiful girl was murder in March of 2009 and almost two years later the Peace Corps has yet to come forth with any responsibility or information for the family.
The 20/20 episode went on to tell the story of the women who have come away with their lives, but who have been raped while serving in the Peace Corps. While it was disturbing to listen to their stories, what was even more disturbing was that the Peace Corps practically discarded these women. They encouraged false stories to cover up the rapes, and
also did nothing to help these women recover offered only a few counseling sessions to help the women cope. To make matters worse, the girls were told that they must have done something wrong to have been raped.
The only word that comes to mind when I think of the way the Peace Corps has handled these situations is pathetic. I highly doubt that this is what President Kennedy envisioned when he created the Peace Corps. I am well aware that we live in a fallen world and things like rape and murder happen, but it is the responsibility of the Peace Corps to protect their volunteers instead of failing those who have been abused.
I am not writing this post to point fingers and scream judgment. I know that the Peace Corps has done amazing things in this world, and I believe that a few bad apples shouldn't ruin the whole barrel. This 20/20 program focused on the murder of Kate and the rapes/cover ups of other volunteers. I'm sure that they could have easily produced a show that highlighted all of the wonderful things the Peace Corps has done. I don't know all of the facts, and I'm sure 20/20 does not know all of the facts. However, certain things remain true:
Kate Puzey was murdered.
Volunteers have been raped, and feel betrayed.
I believe that the 20/20 story has shed a vast amount of light on what is going on within the walls of the Peace Corps, and I can only hope that the government will step up and make things right with those who are victims, and protect those currently serving.
It is stories like these that push me to go further when I feel like quitting. It's this type of injustice that boils my blood and drives me to continue on this path that I have been called to. God willing, I will graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice in May 2012, and will enroll in law school in August 2012. The day where I can stop dreaming of helping and start fighting for what I believe is right will be a powerful day, indeed.
(To watch the 20/20 story click here)