On Tuesday, April 28 we learned that our friend and former colleague, Maribel Gonzales, had died at her home in Guelph, Ontario.
Maribel worked with Project Ploughshares from 2008 until 2013. She quickly took charge of a project in the Caribbean, working with civil society organizations to address the plague of armed violence in their communities. Maribel coordinated the Small Arms Working Group through PeaceBuild, based in Ottawa. She also used her considerable organizational experience and skills to assist the board of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). Prior to joining Ploughshares she had worked for more than 25 years in the Canadian office of Development Workshop, a non-government organization that focused on rebuilding conflict-shattered Angola.
Closer to home, Maribel was deeply involved in supporting social agencies in Guelph and the local Filipino community. Her husband, Farokh Afshar, was a long serving professor at the University of Guelph, until his untimely death from cancer in 2007. Maribel enjoyed her contact with university students, having grown up on the campus of a university in Manila as the daughter of a professor. She loved to cook for large gatherings of undergrads, and for family and friends. Discussions about recipes and the best places to shop for ingredients spiced Ploughshares lunchtime conversations.
We all remember Maribel’s sly observations, earthy jokes, her hearty laugh and her abiding love for her two adult daughters, the bright lights of her life.
Maribel was diagnosed with ALS in November 2014. The disease advanced rapidly. With Maribel’s family and wide circle of friends we feel sadness at her passing, but celebrate a vibrant life filled with love, fun and adventure.
Requiescat in pace.