Saturday, December 7, 2013

Peace Corps volunteers inspired by church

A church in Bassein fort
I would say this was true for me.  I saw the Peace Corp as  mission.  And as national service. By odd coincidence I was assigned to a fishermen's marketing cooperative - St. Peter's! forty miles north of Bombay.  Bassein had been a Portuguese outpost.  The remains of a huge old fort on the shore are its famous landmark.  Fishermen had two co-ops - each owning an ice factory.  One Catholic the other Hindu.  The Catholics had a primary school too. It was like Brooklyn.  It showed me how communities are built by Church and how churches build communities.  And how culture is transmitted as peasant women in saris on local buses crossed themselves as they passed the numerous little roadside shrines to the Virgin.  - gwc

by Andrew Nelson
ATLANTA In the beginning, Monica Oliver figured with her college education and her upbringing in the United States, she'd help transform a poor community.

The Jesuit-educated Oliver was a Peace Corps volunteer living in Mali. She worked with women entrepreneurs in the West African country to start small businesses. But looking back, she knows it was the community that transformed her.

"I gained a lot of perspective on love, and human beings, and how to be a decent person," she said.

In Mali, greetings matter. A perturbed postmaster once withheld her mail for weeks when he felt she was rude to focus on checking her mailbox without talking to him.

"The experience put me in my place and to this day it serves as a reminder to me that it does not pay to be too busy or self-important to ask after another person's well-being," she told The Georgia Bulletin, Atlanta's archdiocesan newspaper.

Oliver and others recalled fondly being stationed in developing countries as they served in the Peace Corps. The experience revealed the world to them and opened their eyes to the global church.

The Peace Corps is one of President John F. Kennedy's uplifting legacies. Former volunteers talked about their life-changing experiences as the country marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Nov. 22, 1963.

Oliver's Catholic faith spurred her to join the Peace Corps out of a desire to serve others. It was in the Muslim country of Mali she learned a deeper way to live her faith.

No comments:

Post a Comment