ABC News reported Thursday that a female Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Benin was found dead outside her home early in the morning on March 12.
Kate Puzey was 24 years old, and had joined Peace Corps in July 2007. She was from Cumming, GA, north of Atlanta. You can read the blog she kept, and notes people are posting for her.
Here is a thoughtful account from a fellow Benin sojourner Xeni Jardin.
According to a Peace Corps statement issued March 13:
Peace Corps Acting Director Olsen said, “Kate was an exemplary member of the Peace Corps family whose dedicated work as a secondary English teacher in a rural public school in Badjoude, Benin, contributed greatly to the lives of the Beninese citizens. Kate’s life and work spoke volumes about the kind of dedication she had to her service as a Volunteer, and the U.S. Peace Corps is greatly saddened by her loss. Our condolences go out to her family and loved ones at this time.”
According to Robert Wood at a March 12th U.S. State Department press briefing, it’s not clear whether she suffered a natural death. Peace Corps and the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou are coordinating with local police authorities, who are currently conducting the investigation and will make a final pronouncement on Kate’s cause of death.
March 12th, the State Department issued this statement:
The State Department was saddened by the news of the death of a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in Benin, West Africa. Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington has notified the volunteer’s next of kin. The U.S. Embassy in Cotonou has dispatched the Regional Security Officer and other personnel to the village where the volunteer was stationed, located several hours away from the capital. The Government of Benin has expressed condolences to the U.S. government and pledged full cooperation and support in this matter.
The State Department expresses our deepest condolences to the family of the volunteer and the Peace Corps.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Kate Puzey’s family, and the Volunteers she served with in Peace Corps. I am so sorry. Kate died in service to her country and we should all be grateful for her service.
Kate was one of 100 Volunteers serving in Benin. In the Peace Corps’s 40-year history in Benin, 1,631 Peace Corps Volunteers have served. Current assignments involve responding to four of Benin’s development priorities: improved quality of life for the rural population, expanded educational opportunities for the masses, increased food production, and reforestation.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Lois Puzey said her daughter’s body will be accompanied back to Georgia in a few days by a Peace Corps official. Services are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Alpharetta’s Sanctuary at Birmingham United Methodist Church.” Read the article from March 15th the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Kate Puzey Memorial Fund has been established to help causes Puzey believed in. Donations can be sent to: c/o Smith, Gambrell, and Russel, LLP, Suite 3100, 1230 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309-3592.
Did you know Kate? Serve with her? I invite you to leave a comment here.