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Past Lives - UNDP Damascus

Updated: Apr 7

From March 1994, and until April 2001, I worked at the UNDP Damascus Office, first as a National Program Officer - Head of the Program Support Unit, and, subsequently, as Assistant Resident Representative. From 2001, and until I joined NYIT Amman in 2004, I continued to work with the UN development system both in Syria and the region as a credit/poverty alleviation consultant. I was often uncomfortable with most of what all this entailed, and it had little to do with my academic interests, but it was, at the time, the only way to live near my parents.

The meaningful exception to this bureaucratic nightmare involved implementing a microfinance network to help empower Syria's rural poor. The program was designed by Dr. Hans Dieter Seibel, a German expert on microfinance,. Seibel is a remarkable person who inspired me in ways I did not think possible; and I owe the time I spent dedicated to the cause of helping Syria's poor to his ideas and enthusiasm.

Prof Hans Dieter Seibel

There were also other infrequent inspiring events like meeting Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General. in Damascus. I had deep respect to Annan and to everything he was trying to achieve. Annan, like me, is a graduate of Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota), and when I met him I asked, what are the odds that two graduates of Maclester would meet in Damascus in the context of a UN staff meeting? He laughed and asked his photographer to take a picture of us!

Speaking on behalf of the UN staff in Syria in the presence of Mr. Kofi Annan, Damascus, Sheraton Hotel - February, 1998

Meeting Mr. Kofi Annan

Damascus, Sheraton Hotel - February, 1998

VIDEO - Meeting Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN

who, like me, also graduated from Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota)

Damascus, Sheraton Hotel - February, 1998


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