Vigil Remembers Puzey, Other Victims of Violence
By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, March 14th, 2011
Remembering the 24 years of joy Kate Puzey provided her family, Lois Puzey said her daughter “brought sunshine into the room. Life was better when Kate was around.”
More than 100 family, friends and other supporters could not agree more. With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, last Friday’s candlelight vigil marked the second anniversary of Kate’s murder while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin.
The House of Representatives is expected to hold hearings at the end of this month centering on the circumstances of Kate’s death and other incidents of violence against volunteers.
Jessica Smochek, a survivor of sexual violence while a volunteer in Bangladesh, spoke at the vigil on behalf of the group First Response Action and thanked the Puzey family for their willingness to dedicate the vigil to all victims of violence. ”Tonight is a night to focus on remembering Peace Corps volunteers who are survivors of violence. Tonight is a night to honor them in a way in which they have not been honored before.”
Peace Corps was represented at the vigil by Dick Day, Regional Director for Africa. ”Kate was a catalyst for change. She was and is a bright light. We stand with her family in remembering the wonderful and enduring contributions she made to Benin and to the world.”
Several speakers offered praise to the Peace Corps for recent positive steps to address the concerns of volunteers who are victims of violence. They also expressed their desire for legislation to ensure that improvements are institutionalized within the agency.
Lois Puzey and other friends and family offered touching and – at times – humorous reflections on Kate’s infectious spirit and joy. But the never-ending sorrow of a mother losing her daughter was also evident. As Lois acknowledged to the gathering, “I cried more tears in the last two years than in the previous sixty years of my life.”