In Memoriam Mhairi Khadhraoui
BY SEBLE DEMEKE
I met Mhairi some 15 years ago when she joined the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) as an Administrative Assistant. From then until I left the JIU in 2004, I found her to be a most kind, understanding and helpful staff member. When I heard of her passing away through a common friend and colleague, sadness and sorrow overcame my heart.
In particular, I remember how much she loved and cared for her only daughter, Sonia. I was shocked and short of words to express my sorrow; she was not only my colleague but also a good friend. She was a good person and a responsible and committed UN civil servant. She loved and cared for people from all parts of the world.
Mhairi was someone who fitted well the image of what an international servant is supposed to be. She was married to someone from outside her culture, background and religion. Her close friends were all from different continents and countries and yet she got along with all of them as if she has been raised with them in the same neighbourhood. She had a character and approach to life which was appreciated by those who were close to her. That is why we got along so well, although both of us came from different backgrounds, me from Africa and her from Europe. Yet both of us forgot that we came from different backgrounds and cultures. Isn’t that what the UN is supposed to be, bring people who stand for the same cause together?
Mhairi and I shared lots of things together, had pleasant times, we laughed together, we talked about our children, we talked about life in general. Most of all, we went through very difficult times regarding our career with the JIU. Not even once did Mhairi put herself “first” throughout the tense process, despite the fact that she was a single mother and had a heavy responsibility. She even reminded me at times when things got tough, by saying that, “Seble, we are in this together”. She was a lady of integrity, courage and confidence. She had a sense of justice and would stand for what she believed in. I am proud that I had the privilege of knowing her and being her friend.
I would always miss my dear friend Mhairi and it would be very hard for me to come to Geneva and not find her in the JIU with her big smile. I would always remember her in my prayers and thoughts. I will also pray for Sonia and for Mhairi’s parents so that God will give them the strength to go through this difficult situation.