Don’t lose your faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; a few dirty drops will not make the ocean dirty (Mahatma Gandhi)

September 12, 2009

Dear President Obama:

Greetings from Uganda! I hope this note finds you well.

I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.  I am writing this letter to bring an action taken by Peace Corps Washington to your attention. You might be under enormous stress to make some positive reform in our nation’s health care, but I hope you take a few moments to see the gravity of what is happening in Peace Corps Uganda.

Larry Brown, our outstanding country director, was removed from duty.  Citing the Privacy Act, the current (acting) country director cannot disclose why he was terminated from duty.  Last week when I contacted his wife, she told me that he did not know the reason behind his removal from duty.  When I visited them, I got the same answer from him.

I find PC Washington’s decision to remove Larry Brown from duty disturbing.  Larry Brown, a former professor from Harvard and Assistant Peace Corps Director under President Carter, is an exceptional individual.  His love for PC Uganda, PCV’s, and Uganda is clearly visible when one pays attention to how quickly he gained the trust of PCV’s and Ugandans.

In the last seven months, Larry turned PC Uganda into a strong post as he increased the number of volunteers in Uganda.  PC Uganda had not only grown in number but had also transformed into a great family.

Larry Brown and his wife were an incredible support system for us.  A few weeks before he was removed from duty, his wife and he hosted a pride dinner, where all volunteers were invited, at their residence.  His wife and he supported gay and lesbian volunteers in a country where homosexuality is openly condemned in the media.  I feel honored to have known a country director who supported my fellow volunteers.  When my husband and I decided to repair the house before we moved to site to make it more safe and secure, Larry was very supportive of our choice.

Many volunteers and I are confused why PC Washington chose to remove a person from duty when he is really good at what he does.

All I am asking is for you to take a few moments to urge Mr. Aaron Williams to evaluate what happened.  Even though Mr. Williams might be overwhelmed by his responsibilities as the new PC Director, I believe he should give Larry a fair chance because I believe he was removed from duty for the wrong reasons.  If Aaron Williams does not at least hold an investigation, we would never know what happened in Washington.

A man who dedicated his life to leveling the playing field would never know why he was let go by the American government.  As a young American voter I feel my faith in our system is tested through this unjust action by PC DC.  I hope you choose to renew my hope in our system by urging Mr. Williams to give PC Uganda another chance to grow under Larry Brown’s diverse experience, knowledge and leadership.

Thank you for your efforts in making America a better place.

Sincerely,

_____________

PCV Uganda

2009-2011

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within. (Mahatma Gandhi)

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2 Responses to “Don’t lose your faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; a few dirty drops will not make the ocean dirty (Mahatma Gandhi)”

  1. Diana Doris Akiidii said

    Dear Anjali, I happened to know Dr. & Ms. Larry Brown in Uganda. We met by chance and I totally agree with you that Dr. Brown’s leadership qualities are the ones people living in young democracy like Uganda need. Leaders who listen, keen to learn both history and current set of their work environment. My Little son Dorian called Ms. Brown “Auntie” and keeps asking where she is…and I still have no answer for him! I was shocked when I heard the news! But in this world, people like Willian exist and have powers that I know in a democratic country like US, go with some level of acceptable accountability. Like you noted humanity is an ocean a few dirty drops (Willian’s decision in this case)will certainly not corrupt our efforts to foster democracy world wide

    • myafricancorner said

      Thanks for your comments. They are thoughtful and I hope it’s okay if I pass them on in an email to Larry & Judi. I agree the circumstances under which that Larry was terminated from duty should be evaluated and PC DC should respond to the letters and emails that were addressed to them. At the same time, I believe that Aaron Williams as an individual should not be judged based on just this decision. We don’t really know the various angles to this story and why Williams made the choices he did.

      I miss Larry and Judi a lot. At the same time, the current PC Uganda post is under good & capable leadership. I will always remember that February day we first arrived in Uganda and Larry’s beaming face. I only hope they continue (which I know they will) to do their good work in making the world a better place.

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