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February 9, 2005

Tragic News

Once again, I am at a loss for words…the last few weeks have been weeks filled with many questions and not many answers. My friends from and in Mozambique and I have lost a friend, a teacher, a principal, a confidant, an advisor, a sage, a mother and a partner when Amy passed away. Please read the following for a more complete picture of what happened. And, as always, life your life well---filled with love and good works.
January 22, 2005 - January 27, 2005 - February 5, 2005 - Info & Considerations

January 22, 2005

Dear friends,

I hope this email reaches you all healthy and safe. I have some very sad news about Amy Sosnowski, someone we have all worked and lived and laughed with. Amy traveled to Puerto Rico with Emilio and LuLu for Christmas vacation, and she became very sick from malaria that was dormant in her body. She has been in a coma for almost a week now, and the doctors say it doesn't look promising for her. They are hoping for a miracle at this point.

From what I understand, they didn't know it was malaria right away, and when they figured it out it was very difficult to get malarial meds to her. (If it weren't for the connections Emilio's father has with hospitals and other doctors, they may never have gotten it). Amy went into cardiac arrest last Friday, but was brought back and seemed to have stabilized. But the following day she slipped into a coma. Though her body is functioning somewhat on its own, she is until now not showing any brain or neural activity, such as pupil dilation or reflexes. They have rid her body of malaria, but the neurologists are very worried that from this point she might have some or total brain damage from the cerebral swelling.

I spoke with Emilio today by phone, and he seems to be dealing with this with so much calm and love and hope. It is a blessing that he is in Puerto Rico with his family to support him. Amy's mother flew down and has been visiting all week. Emilio is visiting Amy often, is reading to her, and telling her to fight as much as she can. He wanted me to ask everyone to think of Amy and all the wonderful things that she embodies as a person, all the care and compassion and dedication she lives by. Her amazing strength. All of the many lives she has deeply affected through her work and daily life. Pray for her, have her in your thoughts, send her and her family positive energy of healing and peace.

Emilio and Amy's family are struggling now to try to transport Amy to Chicago, for whatever outcome that lies ahead. It seems like US laws does not permit this right now because malaria is considered an infectious disease, barring her from entering the States. Even when there are clearly no mosquitoes in freezing Chicago winter. Emilio is trying to get written consent from the doctors in Puerto Rico.

Regardless of the future outcome, Emilio is tremendously driven to be with LuLu and provide a loving life for her - along with Amy, she is the center of his world. He is thinking of maybe moving to Boston with her, where several of his brothers and sisters live.

Everything is uncertain now, but it seems the best thing is to pray and meditate on love, health, and family and friends - in all ways big and small.

I am sorry to send such tragic news -- but please lets move forward with hope and without fear.

Much love,

Ali

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January 27, 2005

Dear friends,

I hope you are all well, healthy and safe.

I am so sorry to send yet another sad email. As you may have guessed, Amy's condition worsened. She suffered a few cardiac arrests in the hospital, and wasn't responding to stimuli in any way that indicated brain activity. She passed away today, Wednesday, in Puerto Rico.

I know everyone cares about her so much, and knows and respects the wonderful work she did, on so many levels. Emilio asked that we all say prayers for her, think of the great impact her life has had, and just love her...

Emilio is of course so upset, but thank goodness he is with family now and seems to be opening up to people in this painful time. He mentioned to me how much Amy comes out in LuLu, and I am so grateful Amy gave the world this precious part of her.

Emilio will return to Chicago - where Amy's family lives - with LuLu on Friday, and Amy will be transported tomorrow. The wake will be on Sunday in Chicago and the funeral services will be on Monday, I think in the morning. They are trying to get visas and tickets for a few Mozambicans to come to Chicago, but I don't know how successfully that is coming along.

I will be heading to Chicago, along with Brian and Caitlyn and perhaps some other volunteers, as well as Uli and Brian's mother. It will be so good to be with Amy's family and Emilio now; the fact that we all had this beautiful part of our lives together in Lamego is hugely significant, a very unique and important shared experience. Clearly the last four or five years of Amy and Emilio's lives were totally immersed in everything there, and surely every memory Emilio has of there he also has with her.

If anyone would like to send something by mail the address is as follows:
The Sosnowski Family
482 164th St.
Calumet City, Illinois
60409

Thanks for being such a wonderful group of loving, caring people. Let's celebrate Amy's lives in all of our own.

Much love and many hugs,

Ali

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February 5, 2005

Hello to everyone,

As always, I hope you are happy and well. Although many of you have already gotten personal updates about Amy's funeral from me or someone else, I wanted to just send a brief email out for those who haven't heard anything and may have wanted to know a little more.

I spent last Saturday to Tuesday morning in Chicago. It was quite beautiful how many people came from near and far, and even very far, to pay their respects to Amy and all who love her. I was just one of about 15 or 20 former volunteers who worked with and knew Amy on varying levels throughout the years who was able to attend. Uli and Birgit - the country director for Humana Mozambique - also attended. Even parents of volunteers came to give support and be together.

Beyond those who knew Amy for her involvement with IICD and ADPP/Humana, there were so many people there that knew her from many other times and aspects of her life. Of course her close and extended family, but also her high school friends and teachers, and those from college, and many close friends that knew Amy as "Blondie" when she was a camp counselor for many summers working and doing outdoor immersions with young girls. It was beautiful to see the many spheres of her life, her wide-spread influence into different and diverse circles of people. It made me wish I could have known Amy in her other elements as well.

Although I was only able to speak briefly with Emilio and Amy's mother, father, and brother - at the wake (a day long viewing), the funeral service, and a lunch for all who wished to attend - it was good to just be there with them. I think it meant so much to them that so many people came out for this. And we all passed on the wishes of everyone who couldn't be there as well; They definitely know how much people are thinking about them and keeping Amy alive in their thoughts. They are dealing with this with amazing strength and grace.

Emilio is moving to Boston this week, I believe. He apparently has an interview with Boston University, and will live in Lynnfield, Massachusetts with LuLu, nearby his two sisters who also have kids. It seems like he's really trying to get into a routine for himself and LuLu, the best way to cope with daily life in these very hard and sad times. He seems like he's holding it together, and really is prioritizing LuLu. We had plans to meet up this week, but I didn't hear from him so I hope things are okay. It looks like the plan is for him to return to Lamego for a few weeks with Christine and Todd (Amy's mom and brother) in a few months to help organize things there.

After speaking with some of the volunteers in Lamego and also with Birgit, much of my worries about the projects in Lamego were allayed. Antoni, a man from Poland who worked with Amy in EPF a few years ago, is stepping in for a while to help out, as well as a man from Zimbabwe and Carlos, who has been at the school for a while now. Also, as one volunteer mentioned, hopefully this will be a good opportunity for Mozambicans to fill most of the roles at the school. As this same volunteer pointed out, foreign staff can be useful for their ability to fundraise, especially foreign donations, but in other roles it is good if Mozambicans can be empowered to hold up the schools and projects. It looks as if one blessing in all of this is that there will hopefully be a lot of donations coming into the school, through an external fund set up in Amy's memory.

Those of us who knew Amy through IICD/Humana spent much of the weekend together, communing around good food and better company. It really is remarkable how a group of people - many of whom have never met before - can come together and feel close bonds because of our very special shared experiences, similar ideologies, and of course, influential people like Amy. In being reminded of how precious and precarious life can be, it was a special opportunity to celebrate community and care.

Two eulogies were read at Amy's funeral. Both were poignant, beautiful, and perfect, really. One was read by Amy's friend from summer camp, who spoke of how Amy had touched so many girl's lives with her spirit, courage, love and guidance. Todd presented the other. With appropriate humor and grace he reminded us all of Amy through his own brother-sister relationship with her. He admired her work and her dedication, her strength, her humor. At the end he said something to the effect of, "Heaven's got a new angel - And she's wearing flip-flops and has her nose and eyebrow pierced."

I hope this has been helpful in getting a better sense of all of this. I know it's very hard to deal with death from such a distance as many of you are, but I am sure Amy knows - in some way - how much you all care.

Much love to everyone,

Ali

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More Information and Considerations:

About Malaria:
http://www.nature.com/nature/outlook/malaria/index.html

Please email: (Copy & Paste)with photos and stories about Amy to share with her daughter Lulu.

Ali can be reached via email: (Copy & Paste)

Amy's Obituary:
http://legacy.com/nwitimes/LegacySubPage2.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonId=3098539

Another article celebrating Amy's life