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My moment with Eglantyne Jebb

From the time I joined Save the Children ten years ago, Eglantyne Jebb – the charity’s founder – has been a facinating and extraordinary role model for me.

And, ever since I learned that Ms Jebb was buried in St. Georges cemetery in Geneva Switzerland, I wished I could visit her grave some day.

My recent trip to Geneva as an observer at the 55th Session of the UNCRC Committee (reviewing the Sri Lanka State Party report), gave me an opportunity to make this a reality.

With a map in hand I boarded a bus that would take me to the St. Goerges Boulevard on a rainy day in September. With directions from very friendly Swiss people, I found a cemetery and then found out it was the wrong one!

However, the people in the office of the Plain-Palais Cemetery were kind enough to recheck the plot and grave number of Madam Jebb, and directed me to the correct bus with a note to its driver that I should be dropped off at the St. George’s Cemetery.

Within a few minutes, Voila! there I was standing right in front of the very beautiful St. George’s cemetery. To my luck, there was a flower shop at the entrance from where I could buy a flower.

And what flower would I take for her? A Sunflower of course, because she brought sunshine to millions of children. And she still does.

The lady at the flower shop gave me a small map which indicates all the plots in the cemetery by number.  Madam Jebb’s  grave number is 1433 in the 25th plot ( quartier).

I was thrilled to see Plot 25 from the window of the flower shop, so I picked up the flower and walked so fast towards it. It was not difficult to find.

And there she was, at peace. As I knelt down and placed the flower on the tombstone, I didn’t realise that I was almost crying. What a great lady, I thought.

The rights she declared for children in 1923, are now so universally accepted. Governments are held accountable and I have just come away from such a session.

More than that I just could not believe that I was actually there, sitting by the grave of one of the greatest women who ever lived. What was written on her tomb revealed what she has achieved and the verse from the Bible paid a perfect tribute to her.

“Verily I say unto you in as much ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.

I am always so proud to be part of Save the Children and, at a time when we are getting even stronger as an organisation, my moment with Madam Eglantyne Jebb was more precious than I had ever imagined.

HOW TO GET TO ST GEORGE’S

  • The only bus that goes to St. George’s is bus #10. It starts from the Airport itself.
  • If you tell the driver you want to get to St Georges Cemetery, you should be dropped ten metres beyond the main entrance.
  • Rodrigues J is the flower shop at the entrance, run by Renata who speaks English and French.
  • As you enter through the gate, on the left hand side you will find plot number 25.
  • Walk on the path till you come to the end of the plot and take a left turn. Englantyne Jebb’s tomb stone is the first in the last row.
  • Take a moment to meet her.

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