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SUNDAY, MAY 8, 1994, THOMAS BARAKATT, Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Samoa, died in a swimming accident while visiting other Volunteers on the island of Savai'i. Tragically, the accident occurred the evening of Mother's Day. Thomas had spent the earlier part of the day visiting his home-stay Samoan family, where he had given a gift to his Samoan mother. Later in the day, Thomas had prepared a dinner of pumpkin soup for other Volunteers who had gathered together on this weekend.<br><br>
Thomas, a native of San Jose, California, began his Peace Corps service in January of 1993. He was a teacher at Avele College, an all boys high school outside of the capital city of Aoia. where he taught accounting and economics. The commitment Thomas gave went far beyond his school. At a memorial service at Avele College for Thomas, his pre-service training host father from the village of Samatau stated, "During the new Peace Corps cross-cultural training I chose Thomas as my 'son', thus making my aiga as his Samoan family. I chose him because he was humble. Last weekend, he gave my wife and my sister Mother's Day presents before he went to Savai'i. Every time he came 'home', he wanted to greet everyone in the family, and when he left, he said good-bye to each one of the family. It was his usual way of coming and leaving home."<br><br>
His first year in Samoa, Thomas bicycled the coastal road all the way around the big island of Savai'i with his friend and fellow Volunteer Fritz Kuhlman. Together they snorkled and dove the reefs and volcanic pools of the islands.<br><br>
These are the types of adventures that Peace Corps Volunteers throughout the world seek out in an attempt to enjoy life to the fullest.
Thomas lost his life in his last adventure. There are those who think adventures of this sort are foolish. Those like Thomas could simply never
live any other way. <br>
The above was written by Larrie Warren and published in the Peace Corps Times, Fall 1994<br>
Larrie Warren is/was the Country Director in Western Samoa.<br>
Wiki last updated 04-Sept-2010 by Thomas' younger brother, Michael Barakatt--<br>
We miss you, Tom and look forward to the day we will see you again in Glory.
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