I thought I was a world traveler until I met Nilgun. We met by chance in line at Starbucks at The Emporium in Bangkok. She was on an R&R from her United Nations work in the earthquake-ravaged region of Pakistan. We struck up a conversation in line, and then sat down and had coffee together. A couple of days later, Kade and I met her on Khao San Road and played host and hostess, making sure she had the optimum experience in the Thai capital. After her break in Thailand ended, Nilgun returned to Pakistan to complete her work. After Pakistan, Nilgun took a new post in Geneva, Switzerland. She now works with GAVI Alliance, a funding agency to support immunization. Her role is to manage funds for Eastern European and Central Asia. We have kept in touch ever since that day we met. Facebook has been instrumental in keeping us connected. Plus, like me, she's also a blogger.
I absolutely love looking through Nilgun's on-line photo albums. Whether it's work-related or visiting her home country Turkey or taking trips to exotic lands, she covers the globe. Off the top of my head, I know she's been to Jordan, Rwanda, Vietnam, France, Spain, Sri Lanka, Italy and the USA. This is a mere smidgen of where she's actually been. Lucky for me, I have lots of content to use in future blog posts!
In the photos below, Nilgun is with a friend having dinner in a lovely restaurant beside Lake Leman, which separates Switzerland and France. The farm scenes are of the French countryside. I recall Nilgun saying that folks in Geneva cross the border into France pretty frequently in order to stock up on wines and cheeses. The scenery is stunning.
On a personal note, I truly admire Nilgun. Besides being a friend who genuinely is interested in the lives of those around her, she has a amazing love for life. Looking through her photo albums, you can get a real taste of who she is. She is surrounded by family and friends and her adorable cats. For pleasure, she's enjoying scrumptious meals, boating off islands and wandering around towns and cities. She's really living. It's inspiring. Nilgun is also a fighter. The past few years she's been battling breast cancer. It's nothing she hides. She openly shares her struggles and her triumphs with her family and friends. The fact she faces it head on this way may be the key reason she has the upper hand in this battle. Lastly, I want to say that Nilgun's work is fascinating and wide-reaching. Besides her current with immunizations, she has always been working on maternal and child health programs or projects that focus on women and children in poverty. She's been with the World Bank, the UN and now GAVA Alliance. She has done a lot of good in the world, and she's been "on the ground" in places where most of us would never venture. This world needs more people like Nilgun!
To see another post I did of Nilgun standing in front of a unique landmark, click here. And, if you want to access Nilgun's blog, click here.