Dear Sombath…from Inese Zalitis

Dear Sombath,

I want to write to you and remind you about something that happened almost ten years ago. It was nearly midnight, on the last day of the year of 2004, and I was sitting alone in my office in Bangkok. We had all been dealing with the then all-consuming emergency, the tsunami, that had happened a few days earlier. The whole office had been working day and night, but now I had decided to send everybody home, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. I had to stay in the office, since there were telephone conferences every day with our HQ, to inform each other about the progress of the rescue and emergency activities.

I had just finished the telephone conference with New York. A snow storm was coming in the NY area, and they all had to head home, it was midday in the US. They all wished me Happy New Year, but added that they expected a full written report of the planned activities, as well as a complete Draft Programme Proposal, due in New York the day after! I nearly cried, but wished them all a Happy New Year.

That was the moment when the phone rang again, and it was you, Sombath, from Laos! Calling me to say that Shui-Meng and you were thinking about me, and wanted to hear if everything was all right, and of course to wish me a Happy New Year. I started to cry again, this time of pure joy, that a kind and familiar voice was approaching me and thinking about me. Thank you for that call!. And, the report was written and sent in, in time.

Inese Zalitis

(former Representative UNICEF, Thailand)