HEAL Africa's Lyn Lusi

22 Mar

I am grieved to report that Lyn Lusi, close family friend since I was 4 years old and co-founder of HEAL Africa--an organization we support through the Congolese Advocacy Memorial Project--passed away from cancer March 17th, 2012.  It has been a great shock and sorrow to many.  Here is a link to her memorial page on the organization's website, indicating what a deeply personal and public loss her passing is; the DR Congo has lost a tremendous advocate.  On the 18th I wrote my own brief cri de coeur about her passing in this way:

Lyn Lusi, when I think of everything that you brought into the lives of those who knew you, I feel the enormous fortune of your presence and love.  In a sea of aggravated barking, yours was a voice extraordinarily eloquent, compassionate, wise, temperate.  Soon I'll compose some writing dedicated to what you taught me about thoughtful advocacy and service--because I think those who never met you should continue to receive the extraordinary gift of your influence.  For now, amidst the great sadness of losing you, I want to put one feeling into the ether.  I am... we are all so grateful for you. Resonantly and forever: thank you.

When I am less overwhelmed with school responsibilities, I'll make good on this promise.  I have plenty to share about Lyn and her extraordinary gifts of insight and work in the region, and the personal way in which she supported people's work and good growth.  I'll never forget the conversation we had in her kitchen about the complications of giving in DRC or the way she rescued me from my traffic "arrest" in Goma in 2002 with her astute understanding of local dynamics, wry understatement, superior haggling skills, and $20--for which I believe she never let me reimburse her.  In the meantime, I encourage you to watch the video below, in which Senator Dick Durban honors Lyn's life's work and legacy.  Durban's narrative acknowledges what her memorial page attests--that

despite serious challenges and setbacks due to the region’s economic impoverishment, political destabilization, and natural disasters, HEAL Africa has thrived under her efforts in the last 12 years.  This is not merely a testament to Lyn’s skill, but to her determination.  In 2002, when a local volcano destroyed the organization’s original hospital, rebuilding efforts accomplished more than repairing the damage.  Ultimately, Lyn’s thoughtful guidance helped the organization discover ways to grow stronger after the disaster.  Lyn’s efforts in rebuilding the hospital stemmed from the same attitude she used to help many, many Congolese not only survive their traumas but rebuild their lives.  Lyn’s model of service lives on and will continue to do so in HEAL Africa’s work.  The thousands whose lives she has already touched through this organization will go on to affect thousands more, growing her positive influence long after her time of service has ended.