By Edona Jno Baptiste, News Coordinator/staff reporter
Originally published: October 15, 2009, Dominica News Online
Many people would need a greal deal of fortitude to do what this couple has been doing for the last 35 years. They are not rich. They are not haughty. Peter and Susan Kingston are very humble interdenominational missionaries who travel country-to-country without a salary or regular source of income, educating people about their work and experiences. The Kingston couple has spent the last four weeks in Dominica and now has another two weeks to complete their mission here.
Peter is from England and his wife Susan comes from France. “Our purpose is to do as many programs as we can, in both secondary and primary schools. So in primary schools we do a program encouraging the children to work hard, to have goals, to be motivated and spend their money wisely. In secondary schools we do a drug awareness program talking about the dangers of the common drugs, and we hope to educate students so that they make wise choices in life and don’t go down the road to drugs and crime,” Peter said in an exclusive interview with Dominica News Online.
They started out at age 18 and 19 conducting small projects, distributing books, clothes and wheelchairs based on need basis. Their drug awareness program is mainly for the Caribbean. So far, they have visited some 15 schools and counting. “We’ll probably visit another 15,” he remarked. Their visits are being facilitated by a collaboration with the National Drug Awareness Prevention Unit. Susan and Peter visited the State Prison on Monday, facilitated a seminar for young offenders on Wednesday and conducted a programme at the Dominica Community High School on Thursday. The missionaries expect to be at the Pierre Charles 2ndry School next week.
Peter explained what they do during their visits to the various institutions, including prisons. “Our programs usually last for one hour. We start off with an introduction about who we are and what we’re doing and then we talk about our own experiences as teenagers.” He shares his experiences of being deeply involved in the use of marijuana, LSD, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Peter is no longer a drug user. “We show a DVD which goes into more detail on some of the other drugs like cocaine and crack. At the end we have questions and answers,” he added.
Peter and Susan spend 2 or 3 months in the Caribbean annually. “We started off by going to Antigua. We went all around Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis and then the following year we went to St. Marteen and Montserrat. So we’re gradually covering the Caribbean, one little section at a time… It’s not that we’ve chosen Dominica over other countries with having more of a problem with drugs. We treat all the Caribbean countries equally,” Peter said.
The Kingstons have worked in India, Nepal, Bosnia, and Southern Africa and for the past eight years have been based in Fiji, in the Pacific. “We don’t like preaching. We prefer to show them a sample; anyone can choose whatever they want with their life. We’re different… we don’t really preach… We are born again Christians but we like bringing a sample, not a sermon. Usually we give them our own testimony, our own stories… we don’t push anyone to make the right choice,” Susan said in her contribution to the interview.
While they realise that students are usually reluctant to give testimonies in the presence of their peers and teachers, they ask interesting questions and the couple finds this rewarding. “We wantedto stay longer. They are so lovely. There are some of them who stood up and said ‘we’d really like to leave behind the pretty old life that we had
with drugs and crime and we’re trying to do our best to choose the right path now’ and they ask questions about how to go about that. They all have potential to be good and to improve and have a better life. Maybe they won’t all go on the right path but a lot of them do really want to, and they just need a bit of help from other people,” Peter recognised.
The last time Peter and Susan ever got paid was in 1975. When asked who funds their missions, Peter replied, “When we come to a place we have to pray that the Lord supplies our needs and most importantly accommodation. We go around hotels and ask would you like to donate a room… we got some ‘no’s’ and some ‘come back tomorrows’.”
“People find it interesting that we do this work without a salary,” Peter noticed, and in fact it is .“Sometimes we stay in a great range of different places and that can be anything from five-star to minus three-star. Minus three-star consists of a thin mattress on the floor and some friendly cockroaches and mosquitoes and mice & rats. We’ve had good situations in Dominica. It’s not the country that makes the good or bad experience, but sometimes if we’re in a situation where we need accommodation and the first hotel says yes then that’s great. But if the first hotel says ‘come back tomorrow’…..,” he explained.
They give gratitude to their sponsors Anchorage Hotel, Sutton Place Hotel, Garraway Hotel, Pearl Cuisine, Subway, Ritual Coffee House and Perky’s Pizza.
Below is a clip from the Dominica TV evening news showing excerpts from one of our drug awareness programs: