One Week Ago Today

June 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm 4 comments

One week ago I met a lady at a meeting.  Petite, wiry, with excess energy to boot, she impressed me with her speed, her work, her lifeforce.

I had met many people in the 10 days I had been in Islamabad.  Names and titles whirled past me as I tried to understand what they did, what agency they represented, how they fit into the UN and humanitarian system and what the reporting arrangements were.

But this lady stood out.  It was the second official meeting I attended.  I was making a presentation to our stakeholders.  As I was speaking I could see her and her colleague were not at all happy about what I was saying.  I made a mental note so that I could seek her out after the meeting to understand her concerns.  She got to me first.

We shook hands and smiled. She was friendly, engaging and we had a great but hurried conversation.  She was rushing to get to Peshawar for a meeting. She worked for UNICEF as the head of the education cluster to deliver aid and services to the internally displaced people in Pakistan.  In fact I told her I thought she looked like a nurse – she had that caring personality, an open manner that included everyone.  I was happy that we would be working closely together here in Pakistan.

That was one week ago today.

At 2:30 am this morning, it was confirmed that this vibrant lady passionate about children and people, had died in the Peshawar bomb blast that killed 12 people; 7 of them UN staff.  She tried to escape her hotel room but the force of the blast imploded the windows and …

She now lies in a body bag here in Islamabad waiting to be returned to her home in the Philippines.  She had been in Pakistan at least three years and had covered many emergencies during that time.

This afternoon, I met her colleague again at our offices – the same one from the meeting.  There were suitcases behind her in the hallway.  She was picking up her friend’s luggage to return to her family.  There was nothing to say except give her a hug and cry with her.  Silently, one by one, our office staff came out of the office and created an impromptu line of condolence.

I walked behind the suitcases as she left the building. 

One week ago today. 

Goodbye Persy.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gaby  |  June 11, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    oh, it must have been so hard on you, good thing you didn’t decide to go with her on her trip, glad to hear you are working hard. and hoping you are enjoying it. try to get some extra sleep. do you have any photos???, went to Tor. for niece’s bridal shower, good time and great gifts. off to sister’s cottage for my side, family reunion. will write again after the weekend. you have great a weekend. L–gaby

  • 2. kevin  |  June 24, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Sorry to hear about your colleague. Simon has been reading the blogs and told me about the death.

    take care : the davis-mills clan wishes you well.

  • 3. Paula Fedeski-Koundakjian  |  July 4, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Persy was the a close colleague of the UNICEF representative here in Nigeria; her death resonated in our building for days. They don’t call it the UN family for nothing.

    • 4. JJ  |  July 5, 2009 at 12:44 pm

      I have photos of the memorial if they would like them. ERC Holmes will be in Pakistan this week and will also sign the memorial book. Internal photo op of the event.


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