Remembering Our Friend
Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Tuesday 9th April 2019
Donate To Continue His Legacy
Last week we emailed you about leaving a legacy to Ethiopiaid in your will. Sadly, later that day, on Wednesday 3rd April, we heard of the sudden passing of Ato Gebremedhin Bekele, Executive Director of our partner Cheshire Ethiopia. He passed away peacefully in Addis Ababa surrounded by family and loved ones.
Since the 1970s Gebremedhin dedicated his life to supporting individuals and families living with disabilities. A warm hearted, down to earth, kind man who's mission in life was to help others and to change the status of people living with disability in Ethiopia. Gebremedhin touched the lives of tens of thousands of people – several thousand people attended his funeral demonstrating how highly regarded he really was.
He guided Cheshire through many decades and many challenges - learning to adapt in the face of political unrest in the 1980s - to be the organisation it is today: providing rehabilitation, mobile outreach, wheelchair and prosthetic workshops, hydrotherapy and more recently donkey therapy.
Ethiopiaid started working with Gebremedhin and Cheshire Services in 1998 when our founder, Sir Alec Reed, met him and was inspired by his passion:
“At my time in life I am having to say farewell to many dear friends. Ato Gebremedhin and I met over 20 years ago when Ethiopiaid first partnered with Cheshire. I always admired his dedication, thoughtful leadership, compassion and great sense of humour. Over four decades Gebremedhin worked ceaselessly to raise awareness and improve opportunities for people living with disabilities in Ethiopia. He will be greatly missed but how marvellous to be remembered for so much and to leave such a lasting legacy.”
Lilla Heaslip, Ethiopiaid supporter and past board member for Cheshire Ethiopia remembers Gebremedhin:
Gebremedhin Bekele, or Ato Gebremedhin as he was known by all who knew him, was a Man in a Million. He was also my dear friend and colleague for over 25 years.
He was a child of nine, born in rural Oromia but won a scholarship to study at the prestigious Lab School. He was a man who lived his life to the full for the benefit of others, be it in the workplace, with friends or at home with his family. He was a man of great integrity and high principles, one could say that he had the Wisdom of Solomon. Always fair, he was also not afraid to embrace difficult and sometimes unpalatable decisions for the good of the organisation. A respecter of individuals, irrespective of their position in society; he was not swayed by the view of those in power, if they were contrary to his principles. He was always prepared to listen to new ideas, looking at them sceptically and analysing the likelihood of success in Ethiopia.
With your help, we have supported Cheshire Services for over 20 years. Gebremedhin leaves behind an incredible legacy. One that has spread hope to tens of thousands of people in Ethiopia.
Would you join me in continuing his legacy in any way you can, whether that be a one off donation, a regular gift or remembering Ethiopiaid in your Will.
Chair of Trustees