Virginia Hazzard, one of
UNICEFís first womenís advisers, passed away, the result of a street
accident on October 24, 2007.
It was Virginia who introduced me to Kenya and Aida who made it
possible. Virginia took me under her wing, literally. I stayed with her
and she gave me a good push to go out and work with Kenyan women.
Virginia had a yellow beetle, an original bug. We went everywhere in
that bug. For a first-timer it was mind boggling to look down at the
Rift Valley and visit the homes of her friends. I canít remember the
number of harembees we attended.
Aida and Virginia were quite a team, Mama Gindy, expansive and warm,
Virginia, funny and a driving force. A strong taskmaster, she knew how
to move a project along and kept a close watch over the limited funds
she had to work with. She never lost touch with the early women leaders
in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya.
When she left Nairobi she was given a post in China. I saw her there
again working in the same way. But Africa was her first love. She always
attended the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women and every
year she met with the women she had mentored.
Virginia was the embodiment of Quaker ideals. The UN community lost an
extraordinary person. We lost a true friend.
Mary Taylor was what I call a first generation UNICEF staffer,
one who was recruited during UNICEFís first years. I learned a lot from
her. She was the epitome of the best characteristics that set staff of
that era clearly apart, enthusiasm and dedication to the cause of
children.They remained with her to the very end of her life.
As a pacifist, the United Nations was where she wanted to be. After
World War ll she went to Europe to participate in its rebuilding and
then came to New York when there was an opportunity to join the newly
established UNICEF. She remained
with UNICEF until 1980 just until the International Year of the Child
was over. She kept up with volunteer work which allowed her to follow
her social conscience.
I remember Mary as a clear-sighted, compassionate person who was
dedicated to her job and her friends. Those attributes served her well
so that she was able to keep her equilibrium through crisis situations.
(And there were many!) Her social network within the UN and UNICEF was
wide ranging. She clearly enjoyed the diversity within the UN family and
thrived on being a part of it. As sad as I am of her
passing, I think that she would agree that she had a wonderful life and
did what she set out to do in the organization she felt most committed