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I met them at different times. Lama when she woke me up by walking into the room. She looks at me, and says “You are so beautiful! Where are you from?” Being the woman I am, and the instincts functioning the same way that any woman’s does, a long term friendship was born instantaneously.  Over the numerous times I fell over because I stepped on her shoes, and the numerous times I would order pizza at 2am or go for a walk for sheesha, we had developed a friendship which has put Lebanon on my mind’s map for my whole life time.

Sixbert, I met while waiting for a cab with Wael, and Lama, to head to the QNCC where COP18 negotiations happened. He was holding his briefcase, if I am not mistaken, and introduced himself to me. He later tells me that he thought I was a “sophisticated” person on first seeing me. To date, I have not come to understand what the hell he meant by that expression. But in him, I found openings for projects, where I could contribute. Hearing his stories of Tanzania, and how education costs so little, but man cannot afford it, made me realise that there is a lot we could do to help out.  Today we speak of his new work, his lectures in university, and his Phd studies. Or we don’t speak at all, since he would have said something to piss me off, and I would take my own time to cool off, but I know I have a friend in Africa, who would not find my plans for a better world to be nonsensical, and would actually want to help me implement them.

Ange, I forget when I first met. I think years back, and then again in Doha. He is the guy who would speak French, and speak of the Francophone in the UNFCCC process. Ivory Coast, human rights, his life, and my child we discussed. He would be part of the program, and briefly out of it, to return again. We speak of issues on gender, different perceptions on life and work, and how the world sees us, how the colour of the skin plays or does not play a role. Most importantly   how he could develop a CAN node in his country, so that climate change work would have more focus. Sincerity be the protocol, and Ange respects it at all times. Another friend for life earned, when he and Sixbert put their negotiation tracking on hold to come say good bye to me. I hope I see you soon, in some corner of the world!

Imelda, aka Henrietta, my Kebab buddy, and salad shopping buddy.  Hailing from Indonesia she is seen around the UNFCCC corridors with her backpack, fully equipped to live a day or two in the venue if needed, and with tons of knowledge that would be distributed at any time upon request. One of the hardest working women I have ever met, and one of the most knowledgeable, and one I know I could count on to answer any of my questions related to policy. The number of times I would have bugged her on gaining a simplification on something related to Climate Finance or Mitigation is a little too large to keep count of. But what I would not forget is her support with all my stupid ventures including the intellectual, while holding a basket full of groceries while I chat to a cute super market worker.  Every day she surprises me with some random fact, the last I remember would be about how she blew up a lab facility in the Shell office in Amsterdam. Long live Imelda!

Andrey was the scientist among us. He would talk of Ukrainian power plants, and nuclear energy. I would get explanations on hot air and Belarus and Ukraine based policies. He would entertain me with walks when I am bored, with his long hair blowing in the wind, and talk about how women wear cute shoes in Germany as opposed to other places.  One with his priorities properly set, he knows what he wants, and abides by it. I am amazed at times by your capacity to keep focus!

And there was also Enrique from Argentina, the guy who had all the energy after a full day of sessions to find where be it a venue for Latin dancing. Everyone knows him, his reputation precedes him, and my words not sufficient to describe him. Where did I meet him first? Surprisingly Sri Lanka!

A year’s fellowship has come to an end. But it seems that I have gained friends for a life time, and built bridges across the world to make good work come true!  It has certainly put Lebanon, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ukraine on my map of the world.

Here’s to many climate projects, humanitarian projects, or just nonsensical projects! For all those we are part of, will definitely succeed to change the world for the best!

You guys rock!