THE noted anthropologist and philanthropist, Dr Nancy Sullivan, 57, has been killed in a one-car crash on the Taconic State Parkway in Connecticut in the United States.
Three children aged 5, 8 and 10 from Papua New Guinea were injured in the accident, two of them critically.
A fifth person in the vehicle, Skudy Bangan, 43, also a Papua New Guinean, was taken to MidHudson Regional Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Local police reported that the car being driven by Ms Sullivan left the road and struck an embankment at about 9:50 pm on Thursday. Ms Sullivan was declared dead at the scene and the children were airlifted to Westchester Medical Centre.
Nancy Sullivan ran her Madang-based anthropology consulting company and had lived in PNG for 23 years. The company employs several former students from the PNG Studies Department of Divine Word University.
But Ms Sullivan was better known for her feisty and fearless approach to dealing with issues inflicting the people of PNG, often to the ire of the government and companies that she saw as not behaving in the people’s interests.
I wrote this piece in 2011 and it provides a graphic example of what she sometimes had to endure.
Her personal blog, Nineteen years and counting in Papua New Guinea, tracked her life and challenges as she gamely served a people she loved and a country that she came to call her own.
“A brave, brave woman,” wrote friend and colleague, journalist Scott Waide. “Nancy Sullivan is not with us anymore. The tragedy hits us all very deeply. Nancy was loved by all those who knew about the values she stood for.
“She was a formidable voice against the exploitation of Papua New Guineans by large scale industries and foreign governments. She was unafraid, unapologetic and a loyal friend to many,” he said.
“She produced some of PNG's earliest music video clips and stood for the preservation of cultures in particular the Sepik and Madang provinces. She stood up against the exploitation of PNG women and against the prostitution that occurred as a result of the displacement of people on traditional lands.
“She didn't have much in terms of material wealth but collected children from everywhere and cared for them. I do hope that we who belong to this land will stand up as you have done for us. Nancy Sullivan your heart is painted red, black and gold.”