The toothless, shoeless old woman in a village in central Kenya rushed out of the crowd and shook a finger in Perdita Huston's face as she said: "Now you go back and tell the women in your place that the women of nyeri care about them."
It is frank conversation and anecdotes like this that Huston has brought together in her book "Third World Women Speak Out."
"The reason that I wrote the book was so I wouldn't have to speak in public," Huston said lat night.
Yet there she was speaking at a book-honoring reception given by Mary E. King, deputy director for ACTION, at her home.
Huston, Peace Corps regional directior for North Africa, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, visited six countries for over 4 1/2 months to gather the interview that make up the main portion of her book.
They were not so much interviews as conversations, she emphasized last night.
"I told as much about my family as I asked about their families. I think that policy makers should go and talk with the people. It's too often a one-way communication...if there's any central theme running through the interviews it's the enormous vulnerability of these women, the vulnerability of their families being pulled apart under the stresses of change."
She talked to a Bedouin woman in Tunisia who was given in marriage at the age of 13 and now practices family planning and sends her children-both sons and daughters-to school. She also talked to Lucia, a 55-year-old Mexican woman who had 15 children, who said she was beaten regularly by her husband, and told Huston, "They (women) didn't realize what life was becuase they didn't have education or anything."
One of the guests at Huston's reception last night was Foreign Secretary Francis Bugotu of the Solomon Islands, who will present his credentials to President Carter on Friday as the country's first ambassador here. The Solomons became independent on July 7, 1978, ending their status as a protectorate of the United States.
Bugotu will be a busy diplomat. He also is ambassador to the United Nations and the United Kingdom, representing "thousands of islands" and 200,000 people, as he described it last night.
Under Huston's direction, the Peace Corps, with 30 to 40 volunteers there, is the only U.S. agency now working in the Solomons since thereis no embassy or consulate.
For another guest last night, there were moments of nostalgia for Peace Corps days. Rep Tony Hall (D-Ohio) served in Thailand in 1966-1967 with the Peace Corps. He had just completed college and had been laid up with a spinal fusion when he decided to give two years of service.
"It's the greatest foreign policy we have," Hall said.