Thursday, November 16, 2006

this was forwarded to me by pam levin cameron

matthew costa's mother. she asked that i post it here are a couple of her words:

" If you could post this article and highlight the part about donations, I’d really appreciate it. Matt loved Africa and wanted to equalize the injustice in the world. The soccer field, equipment, etc. that we are planning will honor his memory by doing that in a small way.

Pam Cameron"

matthew lived in connecticut. i think it would be kind of cool to donate to this cause. perhaps you can do so as a christmas, hanaukkah or winter solstice gift in a friend's name.

A Promising Life Of Giving Cut Down In Tragic Mishap
Matthew Costa, 24, of Cheshire, died Sept. 3.November 5, 2006 By ANNE M. HAMILTON, Special To The Courant

Matthew Costa combined a deep-seated idealism with practicality and, in his own unassuming way, set an example for others.He was a serious philosophy major who loved soccer, volleyball and the guitar, on which he played both classical and popular music.
He starred in a play in high school and was interested in politics. He was so intrigued by West Africa that he extended his Peace Corps commitment and was planning to be a lawyer so he could help others.Costa grew up in Cheshire, the son of Frank Costa and Pam Cameron, and had a younger sister, Danielle. Wiry and athletic, he started playing soccer when he was 5 and excelled at running and jumping. He had an independent spirit: Around age 6, Costa flew alone to Washington to visit his grandparents, and the pilot invited him to sit in the cockpit.In middle school, he participated in a student ambassador program that sent him to England, Scotland and Wales."He understood that the world was way bigger than Cheshire," his mother said. In high school, Costa was elected treasurer of his class.His mathematical skills earned him a scholarship to the University of Connecticut to study actuarial science, but he turned it down in favor of a broader liberal arts education."He thought of college as a way of becoming an educated person, not as a vocational-technical idea," his mother said. Costa chose Tulane University in New Orleans because it offered a contrast to his Connecticut upbringing. It was in the South, in a city far from home.His college major was philosophy, and when his grandfather urged him to be practical and think of his future, "he said he was more concerned with public service," said Bernard Levin, his grandfather. "He wanted to use law to help people who were underprivileged.""People just liked being around him," said Todd Gilbert, a college friend. "He was incredibly funny. He made you smile."Costa joined the Peace Corps after graduating from Tulane in 2003, offering to go anywhere. He had studied French in school, so the Peace Corps sent him to Chad, a poor, French speaking landlocked country in north central Africa where there has been sporadic fighting over the years. (The Peace Corps closed its program there this year.)On an informal Peace Corps scale of adversity, Chad ranked among the toughest assignments."Chad had the reputation: If you could do Chad in the Peace Corps, you could do anything," his mother said.In Mani, a village close to N'Djamena, Chad's capital, Costa taught English and helped start a soccer league. When he realized that the children had no concept of geography, he had them paint a large world map on a wall of the school so they could see where they lived and where he came from."He really wanted them to understand where they fit in the world," his mother said. The village was isolated, and sometimes his family didn't hear from him for two months at a time. But they quickly learned that he was happy."He loved Africa," his mother said.After his two years in Chad were up, he asked to extend his commitment and was assigned to Mali, another French-speaking country in Africa. "He wanted to make a change on a small level and be an ambassador for America," said Chris Kennerlly, a high school friend.Costa was assigned to Kita, a less-isolated village than his previous assignment. He had a refrigerator and a cellphone that worked. He could e-mail from a café in the village.Besides teaching English, Costa started a weekly radio show featuring American music that made him a minor celebrity.Malian women traditionally pound millet, a native grain, into flour, which is boiled into a porridge eaten with sauce. Costa gave them a grinder that made their job quicker and easier. He also taught Malian men how to repair water pumps.He played on the local soccer team and worked with "Shoes for Mali" after learning that two of his players shared one pair of sneakers.Last summer, Costa and three other volunteers decided to build a sailboat.For their first trip, they were sailing the Niger River. Photographs show their wide smiles.The wind propelled them more quickly than they had anticipated, so they lowered the sail. They were approaching rapids and rowing against the tide, trying to reach an inlet, when the mast hit a high-tension wire. Costa and Justin Brady, a volunteer from Oregon, were thrown from the boat. Costa and Brady died, but the other volunteers survived.Costa had been scheduled to return to the United States two weeks later to take his law-school admissions test."He was very intelligent, very insightful," said Nelson Cronyn, Costa's director in Chad. "He was able to teach and stay positive with teaching, despite the fact that the school was dysfunctional and cheating was rampant."Costa talked often about politics and his career plans. "He probably would have remained working in development," Cronyn said."I imagine he would have had a significant impact. ... I imagine he would have been very, very successful."Matthew Costa's family and the Peace Corps are building a soccer field and buying soccer equipment in his memory in the village of Kita in Mali. Donations by check can be made out to Rogin, Nassau, Caplan, Lassman & Hirtle and sent to the attention of Paul Zolan, 185 Asylum St.,, City Place I, 22nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06103-3460. Please put "in memory of Matthew Costa" on the checks.

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