Words expressed by Juan Martinez, at the memorial servicefor the six ICRC colleagues who lost their lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
" Todo pasa y todo queda, pero lo nuestro es pasar, pasar haciendo caminos, caminos sobre la mar " . These roads that once were celebrated by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado — whom you read, Julio, more with your heart than with your eyes — led you all the way to Afghanistan.
At Herat, our roads of sand — not of the sea — met. I immediately recognized in you a secret lover of stars.
You were a former sailor, and your compass was a heart teeming with life. You were not made for the city schedules dictated by factory whistles.
You preferred undomesticated time, free and unfettered, structured only by your desire to do good. So you were always on the job, checking, observing, improving what could be improved, because you did not know how to hold back when you were working.
You had a taste for simple things, and the happy satisfaction granted to men who are able to do what they set out to do; you also had the discreet sense of humour that comes with age and experience.
I remember mornings when the blue sky dripped into our coffee cups, and the sun made golden spots on the dining-room table, amid the laughter and the questions that went unanswered.
You wore your convictions not on your sleeve, like arrogant finery, but like an old sheet of folded, yellowed paper forgotten in the deepest recess of a well-worn wallet — like a love letter fro m one's youth, which, when unexpectedly discovered, reminds us that love is stronger than death .
Today there are many of us, Julio — your family, friends, colleagues and all those who are concerned about the state of the world — who accompany you with our hearts on roads that we cannot take.
You are in front of us, Julio. You've taken only a slight lead.
When a man like you leaves us, all of humanity is the poorer.
Special memorial ceremony,
Geneva - May 2, 2001.
Gillian Biddulph Ackermann
of our colleagues
April 27, 2001
Chronology of activities
The ICRC in Congo (DRC)