Three months, done and dusted. I can not believe how quickly my time in Pakistan has passed. It seems like a lifetime ago that I first arrived, somewhat freaked out about doing a job I'd never done before, in a country that the media had done a fairly good job of scaring me about. And yet, 3 months later, the amount of money UNICEF has for the flood response has doubled. I can claim direct involvement in raising half of what's been received in the past 3 months, about $45 million. So I leave here, professionally satisfied and proud of what's been accomplished.
As for the scare-mongering, there is no doubt that Pakistan is a dangerous place. You might have seen an article on the front page of the BBC a few days ago about the police stopping two suicide bombers in Islamabad, and that certainly reminded us all here that there are real dangers bubbling below the sleepy surface of this beautiful city.
I'm extremely glad that I got to get out of the Islamabubble and see some of the Pakistan that I had imagined; the trucks, the dusty roads, the sheer numbers of people and animals. I've seen real poverty before, and I saw it again in Sindh province, but witnessing the tiny malnourished children was something altogether different. I don't well up in tears when I think about them now, but I certainly did for the immediate days afterwards. There is still so much to be done in this country.
But on a happier note, I leave with a whole new bunch of fantastic friends (and some old ones as well). One of the best parts of this work is meeting new friends from all around the world, and from Pakistan as well. I had to say a few goodbyes yesterday at the office, and last night as well, but tonight will be the hardest. I've been lucky to be thrown into the mix with wonderful people, who I would work again with an instant, and luckier still that they are all ridiculously entertaining people (who happily belted out Bohemian Rhapsody at 2am the other night - hence the title of this post - complete with headbanging) that I will no doubt stay in touch with for a long time to come.
And so I leave Pakistan with a heavy heart for the friends I will miss. But the happiest of hearts for my future employment. I was offered what is perhaps my dream job last night with an INGO, as a roving information manager. I'll be based at home and deploy out to emergencies when they happen for 3-6 months, depending on the circumstances. I'm absolutely thrilled, and excited about not knowing what will be next.
Well, I know what's next, a short little jaunt in Asia for the next week and a half, then a couple of stops in Australia before I get home in mid-December. I guess all that's left to say now is...
Catch me if you can....