Missionary nurse tied to aid group in Mount Airy found killed in Sudan SOUTHWEST -- Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

October 20, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The turmoil in East Africa reached the Mount Airy office of International Christian Aid this month when one of the organization's relief workers was found slain near the city of Ame in the Sudan.

The body of the victim, Vilma Gomez, a 39-year-old registered nurse from the Philippines, was found Oct. 1.

Word of the incident did not reach agency officials until eight days later. They announced it yesterday.

Ms. Gomez had been traveling with two members of UNICEF and a Norwegian journalist, who also were killed. All four had been shot, according to news reports.

Details of the incident remain sketchy, said James Glazier, local spokesman for the organization, which says it links "caring Americans with the needy in the developing world."

Mr. Glazier, president of InterAid International, ICA's fund-raising ministry, said yesterday that he had hired Ms. Gomez and her husband, Alex, also a nurse, in 1982.

As ICA's East African director, Mr. Glazier had worked with the Gomezes for three years and had continued to correspond with the couple and their 4-year-old daughter.

"Vilma was a lovely lady, commited to helping as much as she could," he said. "She was an expert in nutrition, involved in therapeutic feeding to the severely malnourished."

At the time of her death, she had been caring for famine victims in southern Sudan, Mr. Glazier said. Mr. Gomez was working in Kenya, a country flooded with refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia.

The family has returned to the Philippines for funeral services.

"I am willing to bet Mr. Gomez will return to Africa and to the work," said Mr. Glazier.

The non-denominational aid agency has about 185 workers in Africa and Asia.

"There is a tremendous need in Africa," said Mr. Glazier.

"Unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason to the violence. Our workers must take chances," he said.

Relief efforts in the Sudan have been suspended while a United Nations committee investigates the slayings, he said.

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