What We Have in Common with BangladeshSeptember 20th, 2009 by lwvkitsap
One of the best things about joining the League of Women Voters
is meeting interesting people with amazing life stories. I am
continually surprised at how many of my fellow LWV Kitsap board
members have lived in different parts of the world.
Loretta Payne, who recently joined the League, has an especially intriguing background.
She worked overseas from 1989 until last year, spending 12 years in Bangladesh and another 5 in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. She recently married Jim Byrnes of Seabeck and together they have 8 children, though only 3 at home.
Her experience in struggling countries gives her a unique perspective on our problems here at home.
“In order to help the poor in Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Rwanda I had to understand how their governments and the private sector served them, or better yet, failed to do so,” Loretta said in explaining why she joined the League.
“Living in countries with failed regulatory systems, you come to appreciate an appropriate level of government regulation. (I have a high regard for covered sewage systems, safe water, building safety inspections, functioning and enforced stop lights……) One of the greatest obstructions to effective governance in developing countries is the obsession with party politics and divisive attitudes. In Bangladesh, the party out of power is always referred to as the ‘Opposition’ party.
“It was disturbing for me to observe this increasing trend in the US.”
Once she decided to live in the United States again, Loretta felt the need to understand how her own government was working to “serve the people.”
“I attended two League events; the first on health care and the second on water Issues. (Interestingly, the greatest cause of financial ruin in both the US and in Bangladesh is a family health care crisis.)
“Fundamentally, people are pretty much the same throughout the world and yet Americans are blessed with an abundance of resources and opportunities, which also brings greater responsibility. I believe that we should focus on the issues and acknowledge that people from different parties can be on the same side of an issue. I joined the League because I believe that as a US citizen I have a responsibility to be informed and involved, and to encourage others to do the same.”