14 March 2014

Namibia: Young Volunteer's Life Cut Short

THE life of 30-year-old Peace Corps volunteer Ashley Earl was tragically cut short after she was found dead in her room, at her host community in Oshakati on Saturday.

Police Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi has confirmed the death.

Kanguatjivi said an autopsy was conducted, but could not disclose the cause of Earl's death.

"They took tissue to do a forensic test," he said as police are trying to establish the cause of death.

Earl came to Namibia on 13 March 2012 and has since then been serving as a community health volunteer, working with Catholic AIDS Action and coordinating after-school activities for youth in her community at Oshakati.

Peace Corps acting director Carrie Hessler-Radelet expressed sadness when confirming her death.

Hessler-Radelet said Earl was an exceptional volunteer, deeply engaged in her work with the youth of Oshakati.

"The entire Peace Corps family is devastated by this loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time."

Peace Corps Namibia staff described Earl as "gregarious, engaging and unfailingly polite," and as a volunteer who "cared deeply for her students, and taught them to respect others as well as to respect themselves."

Her fellow volunteers, counterparts and friends in the community said they loved her spirit, frequent laughter and quick wit, adding that she referred to the children she worked with as "my kids," and her colleagues said that those children were "so much better off for having her in their lives."

She is a graduate of Central Washington University who held a Bachelor of Arts in law and justice, and in sociology, as well as a master's degree in social work from Eastern Washington University.

She also served for six years in the United States army reserve, and worked as a visitation facilitator at the Spokane, Child Abuse network, at the Women's Studies Centre of Cheney, and at the Veterans' Coalition of Ellensburg, all in Washington state.

Earl was an avid reader who also enjoyed watching movies, doing needlepoint and exercising in her spare time.

Her father Stanley Earl described his daughter as a lover of children.

"Ashley loved children and wanted to be helpful in any way she could," he said, adding that as a lawyer she could have stayed in the States but chose Namibia for the greater good.

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