The heavens opened in the winter of 2009, and Baltimore, Maryland, far from Luanda, Angola, was inundated with snow.
For days, there was little life outdoors, and many of us who live in the area were marooned indoors until our cars could be rescued from piles of drifting snow.
That was when I found letters and other memorabilia piled away in unorganized boxes: the memories of a lifetime.
Among them were letters from Deolinda, written soon after our group of A-3’s left Luanda to return to the U.S., to our families, to our hometowns and to whatever life awaited us after that life-changing experience among the people of Angola.
The first letters came from Luanda, along with notes from the children of the day care center where Deolinda had devoted her time and enormous gifts to starting the children on a path to learning.
Later, letters arrived from Brazil and other places in the world corresponding to her pursuit of education and training that she hoped to take back to her people.
Reading the letters again, and learning from various sources some of the story of her short life and sacrificial death, I began an emotional journey of recalling my memories of that long ago time when we worked together. It seemed the right thing to do: to respond to Deolinda’s letters in the form of my own letters back to her.
to all who supported me in my own times of courage leading to the memories I’ve shared here…
to Wednesday Writers, who first heard me read these emotional outpourings, and told me to keep writing…
to John Grzybowski and George Jacobs for taking first steps to build this website tribute…
to Catherine Jones for her artistic final creation of a website appropriate for honoring a person so revered…
to my three sons, Arthur, Joe and Robert, for urging me to do this project; there’s no higher praise than “Way to go, Mom!”
Dear Deolinda is also available in book format, including an Archives section of letters and other memorabilia written by Deolinda. An enhancement to the book includes a CD of the traditional Angola music, “Voices in the Dark,” narrated by Job de Carvalho, music recorded by Angola students. Book design is by Deanna Nikaido.
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