Nadine Hoover, Alfred, New York, USA (English)
I was born in 1961 in Ravenna Ohio, USA. I now live in Alfred, New York, in a house built from wood from my parents’ farm. Nearly 200 people came to help build the house voluntarily so that I could go to Aceh after the tsunami. Both of my children are grown and occasionally live at home. A few young adults live in my home, watch out for the place when I travel and cover household expenses. I have a house, no debt, little savings and no retirement, but I have faith that I am called to the work I do, and will be satisfied with living simply as I age.
I work as a massage therapist in a hair salon to help people in pain recover from injury, stroke, trauma, etc… Jeanne Hyland, who runs the salon, is a wonderful person and greatly supports our activities in Indonesia. She sells Acehnese bags in the front of her store. She does not take a cut but sends 100 percent for our travel expenses and activities; she also collects school supplies and other needs. The people who come to the salon are very supportive and inquisitive. They say, “Go and help others, just don’t forget to come back to take care of us too!” I am close to my family that consists of my two daughters, an older brother who has one child, a sister and her four children, my parents and extended family.
The most important thing for me is to be sincere, honest, loving, open, persistent, hardworking and friendly with people and the earth. In these direct relationships I experience the Living Spirit. I cannot kill other people or support war or violence. I struggle for people’s rights, based on faith or conscience, to refuse to pay for war and eventually make war illegal. I also seek to meet my daily needs from my local area, rather than from large corporations. I plant a garden for the house. I accept that I cannot live 100 percent in accord with my faith, but every day I try to bring more of my life into accord.
I build peace at home and in my neighborhood by practicing non-violence myself and with others. I am an alternatives-to-violence facilitator and a karate instructor so I can face the reality of violence without being surprised or afraid. I play with children and adults who attend to the development of young children. I often listen to others’ stories of difficulties and joys, share my own experiences and practice healing from trauma.
I left international development consulting because I had not been able to actually plant meaningful knowledge and skill in any one place. After the 2004 tsunami, non-governmental, charitable organizations from around the world congregated. Although I was grateful to Oxfam for drilling wells for clean drinking water and to Save the Children and the World Food Programme for bringing basic food supplies, I was horrified by how inadequate we were at bridging the vast divide between people who have so much wealth and those who have so little. The results were massive inflation, which dramatically increased rather than decreased poverty, and enormous attention to money and structures rather than principles, capabilities, skills, relationships, knowledge and natural resources that in turn create sustainable wealth. We corrupted rather than built development.
Therefore, I began voluntarily traveling to Indonesia twice a year to build friendships with people most affected or displaced by the war. As we get to know each other we experiment with living out our basic principles and conduct collaborative training in nonviolence, trauma healing and basic human development, especially for young children. We attend to the immediate needs for peace and development such as wheelchairs, eyeglasses, compost, water filters, and so forth. Our work requires money, but we do not pay anyone or any recurring costs, just development costs of activities.
To support my local development I share lots of information about opportunities to help others through the hair salon, for instance when someone is sick and needs food or other help we help or find someone who can. When injustices occur, we struggle to share the story and correct them to our best ability. I go into prison to make friends and try to support them as I can both inside and when they try to make their way after being released from prison.
What I hope for and value the most in a friend is honesty, simplicity, curiosity, industriousness and enthusiasm for life. I get the greatest sense of meaning and hope in life from breathing and each time I breathe I feel the Spirit giving this life freely. I accept whatever is before me and seek to enjoy life with as many friends as I can.