On 8 February 2013, ESCWA staff members had a grim date with the memorial ceremony for one of their finest colleagues, the Safety and Security Section’s Seargant Haytham Tohmeh, who laid down the arms in his battle with illness before January closed its curtains. Staff members of the Commission came together for a memorial service to remember their colleague as he was, a dedicated professional who embodied the ideals of the international organization since 1 August 2004, the day he officially became a United Nations employee.
Deputy ESCWA Executive Secretary Nadim Khouri spoke on the occasion, saying “We meet to commemorate a colleague whose commitment to ESCWA and dedication to safeguard it and protect his colleagues was indescribable. In his brief eight-year career, he was devoted to the performance of his duties. Haytham Tohmeh left us in the blink of an eye, in a painful twist of fate. With him gone, we lose a friendly, soft-spoken figure of dedication for the wellbeing of others and their safety.”
Khoury considered that ‘bearing witness’ is a value that takes many different shapes across religions and philosophies. “It puts a responsibility on each one of us to do something where we can intervene, and at least to be present when we cannot change situations and make them better,” he said. He related what he had witnessed on the day Haytham was laid to rest, and spoke of the family devastated by loss but strong in its faith and its togetherness, and the solidarity of the ESCWA family.
During the memorial, staff followed a touching presentation that projected images of Haytham’s memories with ESCWA, and listened to testimonials from his colleagues. His family also received a certificate of appreciation for the late colleague’s efforts and dedication.
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