It’s been a while since we last caught up with Mary Griffith, who last appeared in the Gazette on this page in August 2012 as she prepared for a two-year-plus adventure in Fiji as part of the Peace Corps.
Griffith, an R.N., most recently served as a lay minister at Dungeness Lutheran Church and as a part-time human resources manager at Sherwood Assisted Living, but may be known by many as the one instrumental in founding the Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic, which has provided thousands of Sequim residents with free health care.
While in Fiji, Griffith works with the Fijian Ministry of Health providing health education. Recently, Griffith had some visitors from our area: Sequim residents Jim Dries (a former Peace Crops volunteer, pictured at above right with Griffith) and Carol Swarbuck-Dries.
Griffith wrote to us about her experience with the Peace Corps in Fiji:
“The people of the South Pacific and those specifically in Fiji have an overall kind and generous spirit about them. I have experienced it up close and personal. My first few months in Fiji I was living in Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji, and was walking to town from my house on a very hot and humid day, when an older gentleman came up beside me, raised his umbrella over my head for shade, said ‘Very hot day’ and proceeded to walk with me to town. There was no real conversation between us on the way and when we reached the main street, he closed up his umbrella, bowed slightly, smiled shyly and moved on down the street.
It was in some ways an embarrassing ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ moment for me, but I was also taken with his care and concern for this hot, sweaty, obvious foreigner.
Another example happened when I was participating in a conference in another part of Fiji early in my service and was trying to find the correct bus back to Suva. A young man that had been at the conference also was at the bus station and when he heard me asking about which buses to take. Several transfers were needed, so he approached me and said he was going my way. He rode with me all the way to my destination.
As I got off the bus with him, I asked if I could share a taxi with him on my way to my house, he smiled and said, ‘No, I am getting back on this bus.’ I found out then that he had rode way past his village with me to make sure I got to Suva safely.
I was so touched this, it brought tears to my eyes. I will not soon forget Ben and his kindness to me.”
Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.