Monday, July 15, 2013

IVAN SALUSTINO

IVAN SALUSTINO





It was the end of 1999 ,,, I was working as an English  university professor ,, my husband was unemployed and I could hardly make ends meet as the   cost of  living was very high ,,months earlier my brother  has got a job  with  the United Nations which has opened an office in Baghdad / Al Qanat /Canal  Hotel ,,, one day he told me that  there are international staff members from many various foreign countries  who want to learn Arabic and so I designed and planned a Course in Arabic for Non-Native Speakers and I  used to go to their resident places ( at hotels ) to give them private lectures ,,,it was such a hard time for me because I used to go to the university during day time ,,,go to hotels to teach Arabic at night ,,,What a terrible time that  was ,, what a straggler I am ,just as my name Nidhal  which means = Struggle  in English  ...the first man whom I started teaching Arabic was  Mr. Ivan ..I used to go to Al-Betra Hotel wherein he resided in Bab Al-Sharqi ( which is  a very crowded place ) in Baghdad  - not suitable for a lady to go there to alone  ,,,especially at night ,,,so I asked my husband to accompany me ...and therefore I used to go twice or three times a week ,,,the man was very generous , polite and kind ,,, he was a real gentleman unlike all the others whom I taught ,,,the moment I saw him I felt that he is my brother not a stranger ...such decency and good manners  are rarely found ,,, 
Ivan Salustino ,,this is his name ,,, a Brazilian man whom I met at UNOHCI ( The United Nations Office for the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq  ) . He worked as an electricity specialist in the  Multidisciplinary  Observation Unit in the MDU from 1999 till 2000 .  This man  has shown me the most humanitarian behavior ,, best kindness and help ,,,not only for me but all those whom he has worked with , met or seen - as I have heard ,,he is an angle personified ,, he is such a benefactor who spread goodness , help , kindness and favor all around him ,he is honest , decent , frank and clever ,,
He told me how  he learned English language all  by himself when he was young , without going to any language school ,,, he said ,
" I bought books and  tapes and started learning  until I got it ",,,what a determined person that is ,,,,He has a strong will and determination ...
As for his humanity , kindness and merciful conduct I recall this incident which reveals his good heart and kindness  -
  I remember when  we finished the private Arabic lesson  -  he accompanied us as we were leaving the hotel  ,, we were  walking  along the street  in  Bab Al-Sharqi - a  beggar passed by ,,,she was talking in a loud voice addressing God saying ,,,
( look what you have done to me ??)repeating this sentence many times in a loud voice looking up at the sky ,,, ,,,Ivan was surprised ,,, he looked at her and said " what is she saying?  "...I translated her words and I told him that she was begging for alms ,,,he put his hand into his pocket ,,,and gave her some money ,,,then he said .." I feel that I am responsible for the poverty of this woman ,,," Why ? my husband said ,,, You are a foreigner ,,,how come you are responsible for this ?? 
Then Ivan started discussing the economical issues and problems of the world ,,,I was really impressed ,,,
"  that man is out of this world " - I said to myself ,,,who is he ??? "
" Is he an angle descending from Heaven to help people ??"
Days passed by and suddenly a new door was opened to me by God ,,,on the hands of good noble Ivan 
 We were sitting in the darkness because the electricity was off during Saddam Husain 's regime when he used to make us live in darkness two hours at night and two hours at day time  ( Now we wish we have only four hours of black out ,,,because the new government is cutting off the electricity all the time )  ,,,,,,anyway ,my husband and I were fasting and on the lantern's light , our small rented old house was dreary , cold ,gloomy and dark except for the fading light of the lantern when suddenly a very bright  light was filling the room ,blinding our eyes ,,obviously it was a car ,,and then there was a knock at the door ,,,my husband opened the door ,, it was my brother carrying some papers ,, as he was not on talking terms with me ,, he looked at my husband ,, handing him the papers he said "  this is from Ivan  to her ..." looking at me with a grin ..." .and he said she should fill this form in   and  you must bring it tomorrow morning to the UNOHCI office ,,,"
On the faint light of the lantern , I filled in the 4 pages of P.11 - the special papers  for the United Nations application forms , the next morning my husband delivered the papers to the security guards who were responsible for collecting the application forms ,,,
After a while , may be a month or so ,,my next door neighbour called me, "A  telephone call for you"  she said  and it was the UNOHCI asking me to go for an interview ,,I went and I saw a large number of candidates waiting for their turn in the cafeteria ,,,,,I heard them talking and then I realized that they have all applied for  a job  ,,,I was sitting there bewildered as I have not prepared anything for the interview because I did  not even know what it was about ,,,then there he came ,,the benefactor ,,, the man with a gold heart ,,Ivan ,,,I saw him passing by ,,he looked at me and said quietly : " hello " ,,,I said " hello " ,,, " I do not know why am I here ." ..I said ,, " yes ,,you know " ,,he said ,,,I never forget that short conversation ,, it is still there in graved deep down  in my mind ,,, 
Then  a lady was calling our names and when my turn came ,,I went up , entered a room and was interviewed by an English lady and an Italian man ,,they were very impressed with my qualifications and experience and thus I was hired to teach Arabic to international staff members and then English for Iraqis and Arab members ,,,the fees I took ( 300$ a month )  was a GIFT ,,my way out of such a difficult time ,,,to whom does the credit go ??? Surely to Ivan Salustino who has remembered me and who has given my name to the committee without even realizing how much I needed that job ,, not only that but this man  always helps others even if he does not know them and that is what happened with me  ,,,wasn't it for him , I would not have taken that job ,,because in our country even with international companies , organizations or establishments - it is not the qualifications , nor the experience that count ,,, we live in a country of mediation , connections and relations ,,this is why we never develop nor have progress,,,,
later on when I saw him and thanked him - his humble answer was : " I only introduced you because I want the best for the UNOHCI "
Deep down in my heart and mind I know that  if it wasn't   for him ,,I would not  have been able to be there even though  I was the best and this is what I heard from the committee  but the credit and favor goes to my dear brother Ivan
In my life , I have met very few  prominent , distinguished , brilliant people  whose work and conduct will never be forgotten not only by me but by  all those who shared some time , experience and probably hours of humanity ,,,
Whatever  I write about Ivan Salustino ,  my good noble brother  , will never be enough  to what he has done ,,,to me and others ,,,words can never describe the great and good deeds and acts that  this humble man have presented to so many people  
I kept giving classes of Arabic and English to international and national staff members in UNOHCI as well as UNECIF ,MDU,UNESCO ,,until one day another broader door was opened by God to me when I applied to work with the WHO and then became the official translator and secretary for the head of  the organization ,,
I still say that all the favour  goes to Ivan Salustino after God of course ,,,but wasn't it for Ivan who opened the door to me ,,,who knows...... 
WORDS CAN NEVER DESCRIBE THE DECENT , HONEST  HUMANE ,
KIND , GOOD , NOBEL , IVAN
THE MAN WHO LEFT A VERY GOOD IMPRESSION AMONG THE IRAQIS WHO KNEW HIM & WORKED WITH HIM
MAY THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH BLESS & SAVE HIM & HIS FAMILY 
We have a saying in Iraq about such wonderful good person ,,we say this is a RARE JEWEL 
PRAYERS & MOST REGARDS 
for
My good noble brother
Ivan Salustino 


No comments:

Blog Archive