IPM trip stirs memories of Sister Kazel

Alyssa Bovell in El Salvador for IPM's immersion experience program.

As a Beaumont School student, Alyssa Bovell had learned about Sister Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun who taught at the school before undertaking missionary work in El Salvador, where she was murdered in 1980. Bovell's August trip to the Central American country, with International Partners in Mission (IPM), drove home the impact of Kazel’s sacrifice.

“To be there, to hear about the history of El Salvador and the civil war and see the challenges that people are still facing today, there aren’t words to describe that,” Bovell said.

A resident of South Euclid, Bovell began a two-year fellowship at IPM’s Cleveland Heights headquarters after graduating in May from the University of Dayton with a major in international development and political science.

IPM, which celebrates its 40 anniversary this month with a series of events, is a nonprofit agency that provides seed money, training and technical support to small-scale, community-based programs—Project Partners—in 25 countries, primarily in Central America, Africa and India.

The trip to El Salvador was one of IPM’s immersion experiences—short-term travel opportunities in which participants visit Project Partners and experience their way of life.

Bovell said the experience made her feel that she has come full circle since her high school days. “It was a sign that I’m on the right path. I had more respect for Beaumont and [its] mission of educating women for life, leadership and service.”

Sister Kazel began her tenure in El Salvador before the civil war began, preparing for Mass, developing lay leaders and teaching childcare. After war erupted in 1977, she tended to victims, refugees and the bereaved. Though her life was in danger, she refused to leave. She and three other churchwomen were murdered on Dec. 2, 1980.

Their bodies were placed in shallow graves, where a memorial and chapel now stand. The IPM group traveled in a van to the site in La Paz, where they held an informal service joined by members of the community.

”I appreciated the work that (Sister Kazel) did and the fact that she gave her life to do it. But it wasn’t until I was able to see that site and be in the country, and not only see the challenges they’re still facing, but the optimism for the future and appreciation for the work that is being done, that [it was all] brought home for me,” Bovell said.

Currently, Bovell is helping prepare for IPM’s 40th anniversary with its annual dinner celebration “Namaste! One Night for One World,” as well as a series of public presentations that will be held in Greater Cleveland Oct. 12–17. Namaste, on Oct. 16, will feature music and food from around the world, and in attendance will be IPM Project Partners and international experts on development and sustainability.

The October events include appearances by Dorothy Nyong’o of Kenya, a director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and mother of Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, and Rick Steves, host of public television’s “Rick Steves’ Europe” and best-selling author of travel guidebooks.

Nyong’o will provide the keynote address on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m., at Notre Dame College, 1857 Green Road, South Euclid. She will discuss challenges facing girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the state of Kenya’s healthcare system.

On Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m., Steves will appear at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts, 2008 West 30th St., Cleveland, with a presentation titled “Travel as a Political Act,” reflecting on how a life of travel can be a force for peace and understanding in the world.

For more information about IPM, and to purchase tickets for IPM’s upcoming events, visit www.ipmconnect.org or contact Raluca Besliu at rbesliu@ipmconnect.org or 216-932-4082.

Carol Pearson

Carol Pearson is a freelance writer and IPM volunteer.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 2:20 PM, 09.29.2014