Sri Lanka: Remember Dave Walker?
I seem to be having many precious moments remembering the people who were associated with Save the Children UK. Visiting Madam Jebb’s grave site in Geneva made me quite famous, as many known and unknown colleagues from all across the organization wrote to me after reading my blog.
But how many of us still remember Dave Walker, who I believe worked for Save the Children for about 16 years (and never looked anything more than 18!). When I joined Save the Children in Sri Lanka in 2000, Dave was the Regional Director for South and Central Asia. He was based in London and visited the countries in the region. When Sri Lanka went through the Unified Presence process, Dave was there to support us. In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami which struck in December 2004 he was giving us guidance constantly. He was part of the Programme Support Group for the Tsunami affected countries and visited us often. When I compiled my first ever emergency situation report, this was the message he sent to me:
‘Many thanks for an excellent high quality report. Well done to you and all the team. We’re doing everything we can to support you.’
It still encourages me to read his words.
But what really motivated me to write this was a recent visit to Padavi Siripura, a small village in the eastern district of Trincomalee which has been affected by the country’s civil conflict. As I drove along the road to meet some children in a pre-school, my colleague Thilini showed me an old preschool building and said that it was built by Save the Children UK in the 1990s. Its name was written on the wall: David Walker Pre-school.
I nearly jumped out of the vehicle to take this photo. My collegues did not know who David Walker was to Save the Children. But I told them all what I knew about him. Amazingly, all the people in the village still refer to the pre school as David Walker pre school.
Dave has certainly left his mark in Sri Lanka thanks to the team who worked in that area during the country’s civil war. And I was quite pleased to see that pre-school, not only because it reminded me of Dave, but also because it has survived all these years and has made a difference to thousands of children.