Hopkins nursing graduate among aid workers killed in Afghanistan

Glen D. Lapp remembered as believer in nonviolence

August 09, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

A Johns Hopkins School of Nursing graduate, who was one of 10 medical aid workers ambushed and killed in Afghanistan last week, was recalled Monday as an ardent believer in nonviolence who liked the challenge of an overseas assignment.

Glen D. Lapp, 40, who graduated from Hopkins in 1995, had volunteered for a posting through the Mennonite Central Committee, based in Akron, Pa.

"He was the kind of person who, when something needed to be done, he would roll up his sleeves and do it," said Ron Flaming, the committee's director.

He said Lapp, who lived in Lancaster, Pa., loved his job and had spoken of how exciting it was to see people receive help and how it improved their lives.

"Glen was laid-back, but a part of him liked adventure," said Ruth Zimmerman, a regional representative for the Mennonite group, which describes itself as a Christian relief and peace-building organization. "He was a mountain biker who loved the rugged topography, the tougher the better. He saw going to Afghanistan as the chance of a lifetime."

Friends said he held deep religious convictions. He received no salary for his work, though the group covered his daily living expenses.

"Glen was a sincere person of faith who lived out his beliefs through daily life and a commitment of service to others," said Flaming.

Word reached his former Hopkins teachers Monday, who recalled his personal style.

"The Hopkins community shares in the grief over Glen's death," said Martha N. Hill, dean of the School of Nursing. "He was a dedicated nurse — both here and abroad. The loss of Glen and his colleagues is not only a loss for the people of Afghanistan, but for all of us in the global health community."

A Hopkins instructor, Krysia Hudson, described Lapp as "one of the kindest students I've had the pleasure to know. ... This world was a richer place thanks to him."

News reports said Lapp had been in Afghanistan since 2008 as part of the International Assistance Mission, a nongovernmental organization.

According to an IAM statement, Lapp was educated as an intensive-care nurse. He had worked in Lancaster, New York and Supai, Ariz., and had responded to hurricanes Katrina and Rita when they hit the Gulf Coast. After arriving in Kabul in 2008, he did work at IAM headquarters and underwent five months of language training.

When he was killed, he was working with the National Organization for Ophthalmic Rehabilitation and traveled to distant parts of the country, where he provided logistical support with mobile eye camps. He often walked long distances or rode horseback though remote mountainous regions.

News reports said Lapp and his colleagues were ambushed and shot on the way back to Kabul. He was part of a group of 10 medical volunteers who included six Americans, two Afghans, a German and a Briton. Officials of the Mennonite organization said that Lapp's body had numerous bullet wounds. An autopsy was scheduled in Kabul and plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

Lapp was a member of the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. He was unmarried and had earned a degree from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia before attending Hopkins.

He was scheduled to leave Afghanistan in October.

"The main thing that expats can do is to be a presence in the country," he wrote to his group. "Treating people with respect and with love and trying to be a little bit of Christ in this part of the world."


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