Much has been made of the British woman doctor killed in Afghanistan a couple days ago. Her name, and that of the team leader Tom Little, are in the news. Dan Terry’s name has not yet hit the media, but the news is traveling fast through the Woodstock network of his classmates, his daughters’ classmates, staff, alumni and friends. Dan Terry was one of the 8 foreigners on the medical mission team murdered on their way back after holding an eye clinic in a remote area of Afghanistan.
Dan’s parents were missionaries to India. Dan grew up in the Himalayas and attended Woodstock School. He and his wife Seija spent their life together working in Afghanistan, their mission not to convert, but to help the people of the country that Dan had grown to love. They sent their three daughters to Woodstock School in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India. We were in loco parentis for the girls. When Dan and Seija came out of Afghanistan for a break, or to visit their kids, they stayed in the apartment next door to us at Homestead. When the girls needed a break from dorm they came “out-of-boarding” with us, but got to sleep in their own beds. Because their small apartment had no phone, no fridge, no oven; when Dan and Seija were there, we opened the door between the two apartments and said “make yourselves at home”. When we had no plumbing for two months, I asked one daughter, if she thought it would be okay with their mom if we used their bathroom? “She’d be offended if you didn’t!” was the instant reply. It was a relationship that had both give and take, and the easy friendship and trust that made that possible. It was impossible not to love the Terrys. It was impossible not to respect the gentle, low-key way in which Dan was able to live and work.
He had an interesting relationship with the local Taliban. He said that when they first came, they were an improvement. Later, they “borrowed” his truck. He always knew where it was, and when it needed fixing, they would bring it back to him for repairs. He rode a bicycle with a bullet hole through the frame. He knew the risks, but also knew that being open, honest and always friendly, was the best way to work in a dangerous situation. Dan seemed unfazed by the oft precarious nature of their lives and work. Seija worried more. When the US bombed Afghanistan in the ’90’s, their middle daughter was distraught, unsure what to feel: “My country bombed my country!”
Every trip held the possibility that this time, something could happen. This time, something did. Dan was shot, along with 7 other foreign and two Aghani members of the medical team. No one who knows Dan doubts that he was doing what he loved, what he felt called to do, in spite of the risks. As we deal with my advanced cancer diagnosis and an uncertain future, Dan’s unexpected death “puts things into perspective”, says Dave. It’s a sad day for Dan’s family, friends, colleagues, and the Woodstock community that knew and loved him.
Pray for his wife Seija, and daughters Hilja, Anneli and Sarai.
Go to “http://freerangeinternational.com/blog/?p=3424” for a very interesting post about Dan and his death.