Tribute to Marina Bakhnova, our dear friend and colleague

Tribute to Marina Bakhnova

This morning we had a memorial ceremony here at the University for Peace Campus to remember Marina, to express our sorrow for her passing away and celebrate her life. We thank all of you for the many messages of condolences we have received. We shared them all with her husband, Tom and son Yuri.

When a dear friend or family member departs, it often makes us evaluate… assess… think about what we are doing with our own lives… How are we relating with our loved ones and others… and whether we are fulfilling the purpose of our life… This is what probably happened in many of our minds and hearts during this past week as we were grieving the loss of Marina, our dear friend and colleague.

We want to express our sorrow for this loss, Marina passed away last Friday 22 April, she was at home early in the morning, but at the same time, we want to celebrate her life and beauty.

We want to express gratitude for having had the opportunity to know her and to learn so many things from her. It seems that many things emerge, or shine more clearly as our dear ones go – as if she had to leave so that her purpose in life could be seen or perceived more.

Marina’s first encounter with the Earth Charter Initiative was during an Earth Charter consultation that Rustem Khairov organized in Moscow in 1996. She was there and always helped the foreigners understand the discussion with her translation. She has been our bridge between the Russian speaking world and its culture and the others involved in the Earth Charter Initiative.

My first impression of her was, and has continued to be all these years, related to her elegance and sense of care for others. Throughout all this time there seemed to be a constant in her life: a unique mixture of sophistication and modesty. She made me think this week that if we want to make the world a beautiful place we need to start with oneself, taking care of one’s self and being beautiful inside out. At the same time she had a unique sensitivity to others, not only to friends and colleagues, but also to all the animals that we have around the Upeace campus. She was very caring, actuation concerned, for street dogs and cats. As our colleague Alicia mentioned this week, she realized she started liking cats after she met Marina. We receive lots of interns in our office and Marina often had a special dedication of her time, off office hours, to help them feel more “at home”. She paid special attention to the gardeners, drivers and guards around our office and had a singular relationship with them. This shows her unique human qualities with this special attitude.

On behalf of all of those in the Earth Charter Initiative, ECI Council members, Affiliates, colleagues and friends, we want to express our deep gratitude to Marina for everything she has done for us as human beings and for her unique contribution to the goals of the Initiative. Especially we want to thank her for reminding us that the essence of the human being lies in a deep connection with other human beings and the large living world.

The Earth Charter Team and Council members

We share some images of our gathering here today