A tribute to Valerie Place

February 21, 2003

Concern Worldwide remembers Valerie Place, ten years after her tragic death while working as a volunteer for Concern in Somalia. On February 22, 1993, volunteer nurse, Valerie Place was killed while traveling in a convoy of vehicles that was ambushed on the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa.

Concern Worldwide remembers Valerie Place, ten years after her tragic death while working as a volunteer for Concern in Somalia. On February 22, 1993, volunteer nurse, Valerie Place was killed while traveling in a convoy of vehicles that was ambushed on the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa.

From Dublin, Ireland, Valerie had been a staff nurse at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin before volunteering to work for Concern in Somalia in September 1992 at the height of the famine there. On a two-year contract, Valerie managed a Feeding Center in Mogadishu. Her tragic death was greeted with profound shock and sadness by all who knew her, particularly those who had the privilege of working with her in Somalia.

Children in Mogadishu, Somalia sit underneath a mural of the late Valerie Place.

Children in Mogadishu, Somalia sit underneath a mural of the late Valerie Place. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Over the last 35 years, other volunteers have died of illness while working overseas with Concern, but Valerie is the only who has died violently.

A special commemorative mass will be said for Valerie in her hometown of Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, February 22, to mark the tenth anniversary of that tragic day. Fr. Jack Finucane of Concern will concelebrate the mass. Fr. Aengus Finucane, who was accompanying Valerie the day she died, will give the homily. He paid tribute to Valerie saying:

“The short life of Valerie Place had its influence for good here in Ireland…in her home town and far beyond it… Her life had influence on those who were her colleagues, and on the children on whom, as a Concern volunteer, she lavished her love in Somalia…. We are not here to renew our sadness, but to thank God for giving us Valerie – a person we can remember with joy.”

Valerie’s parents will attend the mass and former colleagues and friends, who worked with Valerie in Somalia, are traveling not only from around Ireland, but also from Zimbabwe, Canada and England to pay tribute.