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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - In Memoriam - Fernanda Calado 1947-96

In Memoriam - Fernanda Calado 1947-96

Fernanda Calado, ICRC nurse of Spanish nationality, was one of the six Red Cross

staffers who were assassinated in cold blood by unidentified gunmen in Chechnya on

December 17th, 1996. The six were gunned down while they were asleep in their house

located within the hospital compound of Novye Atagi, 25 km south of the capital Grozny.

They were Ingeborg Foss and Gunnhild Myklebust, nurses from the Norwegian Red Cross,

Nancy Malloy, medical administrator from the Canadian Red Cross, Sheryl Thayer, a

New Zealand Red Cross nurse, Hans Elkebout, a constructor from the Netherlands Red

Cross, and Fernanda Calado. The following text is a very personal last tribute to

Fernanda Calado who worked for the ICRC as Head Nurse in Mongkol Borei Hospital in

Banteay Meanchey, from August 1992 to January 1994.

Fernanda,

Whenever we look up and see our flag fly half-mast, our thoughts are travelling to

you. In Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and in Phnom Penh, people have you in their

hearts and many fond memories are being unfolded, told and retold, amidst a flow

of tears.

I met you in Angola in 1985 where you were taking care of the dormitory where women,

men and children, all amputees were waiting to be fitted in our orthopaedic workshop.

I see you kneeling in front of them, so small yet so full of energy, with your blond

curls bouncing, changing their bandages, soothing their pain, showing them that amidst

the misery and the suffering in this long and cruel civil war, the people under the

sign of the Red Cross had not given up on them. And you were driven by the conviction

that the local nurses could achieve higher standards. You taught them how to do their

job professionally because after our departure it would be their task to ensure better

care for all, including the poorest and most disadvantaged.

And you did it all with a flashing smile.

I remember the long curfew nights where, stuck in our houses, we organized dancing

lessons. You were such a great tango dancer, light as a feather, with music in your

blood.

There are moments in life when our faith in what we do takes a serious blow. One

of these moments was early June 1996, when three of our colleagues were assassinated

while attempting to bring relief to refugees in Burundi. Another one is today. We

are shocked, we are sad, and we are outraged. Shocked that you, asleep and defenseless,

were mowed down. Sad that we lost our friends. Outraged that once again the Red Cross

has been made a target. You were out there to heal the wounds, to help the Chechnyan

people get back on their feet again, after the devastating conflict which broke apart

families, destroyed homes, shattered hopes.

In Cambodia, in Angola, in Chechnya, in Pakistan, in Ecuador, in Kenya, in Rwanda,

in Israel, you stood for a glimmer of hope and for the chance of a better tomorrow.

We try to keep the flame of hope alive, but it is so hard.

We wish you a safe journey to wherever you may go. Farewell, Ingeborg, Gunnhild,

Nancy, Sheryl and Hans. Adios, Fernanda.

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