League of Women Voters talk to residents who made a difference Oct.

League of Women Voters talk to residents who made a difference Oct. 21

Lexington Winchester Star, MA
Oct 13 2004

If you were riveted by Tracy Kidder’s story of the young Paul Farmer
and his work with sick and impoverished Haitians, you will not want
to miss hearing people in the Winchester community describe their
experiences in lands devastated by natural disaster, disease, poverty,
and political conflict.

The League of Women Voters invites everyone to hear these residents’
compelling stories on Thursday, Oct. 21, at the Winchester Public
Library. This event, at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public.

In the wake of a severe earthquake and the fall of communism in the
late 1980s, Gail O’Reilly discovered an Armenia whose people were
demoralized. With their way of life taken away from them involuntarily,
Armenians didn’t yet understand the rules of democracy and felt
fortunate to have electricity and running water even two hours a
day. After observing Armenians trying to sell their crafts in a park
without tourists there to buy them, O’Reilly decided to help the
artisans sell their products more globally and, at the same time,
find ways to preserve Armenian art and culture.

Michael Bedford, a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s and the Asia
Regional Manager for Oxfam in the 1990s, became the second-ever Peace
Corps Director in Bangladesh in 2000. His work teaching Bangladeshis
about the United States and its democratic principles became even
more important in this Moslem country following the Sept. 11 tragedy
and the U.S. war on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ten years ago, Tom Hirschfeld was invited to join a volunteer project
in Nicaragua to build a village school and on subsequent trips to
use his medical expertise to develop programs for sustained community
development. Hirschfeld also has traveled to Nepal, Bosnian refugee
camps, and Tibet, primarily with Bridges to Community, an NGO that
brings volunteers to parts of the world that are in need of their help.

In 1985, Marion Austin began her work in Haiti, where she directed a
massive feeding program as a missionary to the Haitian people. As she
became involved in new missions in different villages, she was named
President of the organization Bless the Children of Haiti. Austin
has continued her work through the NGO Hope for the Children of Haiti.

The Winchester League welcomes the entire community to “The Journeys
of Winchester Residents Making a Difference,” Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at
the Library. There are mountains beyond mountains.

-Written by Dotty Burstein