Dear Seeds Family,
As many of you are aware, we have suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Ato Bekele. Bekele was our beloved Headmaster who helped grow Seeds through his wealth of experience, passion, and belief in ensuring that all children in Adama can receive a quality education. In lieu of a traditional End of Year Newsletter, we want to honor Ato Bekele’s memory by sharing thoughts of our students, board, staff, volunteers and visitors on his lasting impact.
Ato Bekele has been an integral leader at Seeds of Africa over the past eight years. When we launched our pilot after-school program, he came on board as a volunteer teacher and worked tirelessly in the back yard of Atti’s childhood home where we began our journey as an organization.
When we transitioned into a full-time school, Ato Bekele came out of retirement and joined our team as the Headmaster and first full time Employee in Ethiopia. In this role, he was integral in transitioning Seeds of Africa from an after-school program to a full time school. We relied on his over 40 years of teaching and management experience to open our first School and build our team in Adama.
Ato Bekele was more than a colleague; he was a friend, a father figure, counselor and a leader. He truly believed in our mission and in the power of education. He was an incredible role model for our students, teachers and staff. He brought a tremendous sense of joy to campus, not a day went by without Ato Bekele flashing his infectious smile. Simply put, he touched the lives of everyone who had the privilege to meet him.
Ato Bekele will be dearly missed but we know that his greatest wish has always been for Seeds to continue to grow and flourish. As we reflect on 2015 and prepare for 2016, we honor the life of our friend and father, one of the most compassionate and humble human beings that we know. His unceasing passion for education and belief in the abilities of our students, teachers and staff members will continue to inspire us and propel us forward.
Bekele’s legacy will undoubtedly live on through the lives of our students and their families. We remain more inspired than ever to provide our children with the skills, knowledge and empathy that they need to become courageous leaders like our dear Bekele.
With love and gratitude,
The Seeds of Africa Foundation team
Remarks on Ato Bekele by Seeds Family
Dee Dee Mozeleski, Board of Directors Member
On the morning before I was set to travel to Ethiopia for the first time, I opened my emails and found a welcome note from Ato Bekele. He wanted me to know that he, and everyone at the Take Root Center, was looking forward to greeting me the next day. From my first moment at the TRC, until my last, I was brought into one of the most loving families I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of and I could not be more grateful. Ato Bekele’s sweet, genuine smiles and warm embraces have stayed with me across the thousands of miles between us. He opened his home to me, shared his family with me and made me think that we were friends for decades instead of having only just met. He will be missed by the many, many people wholes lives he has changed through his generosity of spirit and love of learning.
Andre Rae, Visiting the World Artist/Photographer
Bekele was such a wonderful man and really made Luke and I feel at home during our time in Adama, I will forever cherish our walks with him, his amazing stories he would tell while sharing a Saint George beer with me and that wonderful laugh. He was so wonderful with all of the children and families at the take root center, I loved watching him with the children. Luke and I spent many of our off hours getting to know him and learning from him, he also invited us to his home to have a meal with his beautiful family and that was truly a highlight of our time there. Adama and the Seeds of Africa community will not be the same without the wonderful man there. My thoughts and love go to you, your family and his.
Hellina Tadese, Associate Director of Development
Ato Bekele was the first person I spoke with when making plans to visit the Seeds of Africa Take Root Center in Adama, Ethiopia. He made the trip comforting, seamless and welcoming, from the moment we began planning, until we left Adama and returned to Addis Ababa. He greeted us before we even entered the school, and stayed the entire time, showing us around while also allowing the students and teachers to continue the tour and share their background and projects. It was clear his calm demeanor, humor and genuine smile were a few of the many factors that made him an integral part of the stability and overall advancement and culture at Seeds. Ato Bekele is greatly missed, and will continue to be an inspiration to the students, families and community of Adama, and team here at our New York City office to continue the mission and vision of Seeds.
Liz Moran, Education Program Manager
Ato Bekele picked me up from the airport when I first visited the Take Root Center last year to decide whether I wanted to join the Seeds team in Adama. He greeted me with a huge hug and his equally huge smile and immediately took me under his wing. He was an incredible mentor and support system for me and quickly became one of my closest friends in Adama. Bekele and our accountant Getachew would always joke that I was their guest and would absolutely refuse to let me pay for the meat or beer on the many occasions when we would relax together after work. Bekele was hands down, however, one of the people who made me feel most at home in Adama. Bekele was one of the kindest, most knowledgeable, passionate and humble people that I know. He would always laugh about how old he was and act as if he could not keep up with me in the office but that could not have been further from the truth. Bekele gave every ounce of his being to Seeds and constantly inspired me with his positive energy and dedication. Returning to the TRC will undoubtedly not be the same without Bekele’s joyful spirit and guidance but I know that he will continue to inspire us and propel our work forward for years to come as he truly believed in the beauty of our students’ dreams and the mission of Seeds.
Luke Bassuener, Videographer, teacher and visiting the world participant
Very sad to learn of the passing on Friday of the wonderful and gracious Bekele Alemu. He was the headmaster at the Take Root Center in Adama, Ethiopia, and even though I only got to know and work with him for a few short weeks, he left a lasting impression on me. We wound up in a number of long discussions while I was there, and I inevitably asked far too many questions, but I always appreciated the patient, reflective, and often funny ways he walked me through the intricacies of Ethiopian history, politics, education, unemployment, youth chat usage, religion, calendars and coffee. …and action movies. My heart goes out to his whole family and everyone at the Seeds of Africa Foundation.
Maggie Sands, Director of Community Development
Ato Bekele was our fearless leader, father to many, educator to all, and a selfless, caring and hardworking human being. It was on my first visit to Adama, 8 years ago, that I intially met Gash Bekele. We made introductions in what would become our first after-school campus and shared what our dreams were for Seeds of Africa. Before long we had tears in our eyes, it became apparent that Seeds of Africa could become a powerful force in the Adama community. Ato Bekele leaves behind an organization that he truly built, and his spirit will forever be in the foundation of Seeds. Ato Bekele deeply touched my soul, as I imagine many would agree, and we will continue to work towards advancing Seeds of Africa’s mission in the manner of excellence that Ato Bekele did for almost a decade.
Widened Taye, Community Development Project Leader
It is heart breaking news to think Gash Bekele will not be with us anymore. He was the most committed person I have ever known. His dream and passion for the development of Seeds of Africa led our Seeds on the right direction. We have the responsibility to follow his dream and keep his legacy .
Siena de Ménonville, Former Director of Education (2007-2014)
It is seems an impossible task to write about Bekele. Words appear to static on the page to communicate what it is to be in his presence- his radiance, joy, kindness were a living experience. For everyone that spent time with him they know that his presence was strong and loving. Traveling together in the Amhara region a few years ago, I had the chance to see Bekele not only in the role of teacher, but as a man with a curious and agile mind. His interest in the rich culture that surrounded him changed my own perception of Ethiopia and led me to develop my own thinking. Bekele, in his humble way, was a mentor and inspiration to me. Undoubtedly, knowing Bekele has been one of the most meaningful encounters in my life.
Royce Ring, Board of Directors member
It is so sad to hear this. I am honored and happy to have had a chance to meet and interact with Bekele when visiting the school last year. His energy and presence was awesome. I remember when I released all of the soccer balls that one afternoon, he was one of the first to embrace the moment, smiling so big and kicking the balls to all of the kids. He was amazing. Please let me know how I can help.
Elena Pollack, Former Seeds of Africa Team Member
When I joined the Seeds team in New York a few years ago, Ato Bekele’s name was practically synonymous with the Take Root Center. Before I even interacted with him I already had the highest opinion of him because everyone at Seeds spoke about him with such tremendous love and respect. I was fortunate to communicate with him about the Dream School project and was inspired by his commitment and vision for Seeds. I am hoping to visit Adama in the near future and always looked forward to meeting Bekele in person one day, and I’m saddened that I’ll never have the opportunity. My thoughts and prayers are with Bekele’s family and the whole Seeds community as they mourn his loss.
Kenny Allen, Visiting the World Musician and Artist
What a tremendous loss, super amazing guy. Prayers to you and his family.
Rudolph Tattianger, Take Root Center Visitor
Had the privilege to meet this great man in Ethiopia! He was a deeply good person, full of kindness, I am really sad. Rest in Peace Ato Bekele Alemu.
Abuja Wondimu, Former colleague (Ethiopia)
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Ato Bekele! He was an energetic leader and good friend, who will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
Angie & Marley Parker, Take Root Center Visitors
My daughter and I visited the school in the summer of 2012 . It was such a beautiful and life changing experience to be there , the kids were such a delight and so proud and self assured and confident and polite , I realized after spending time there this was in part due to the leadership of Mr Bekele. His presence in the school was one of nourishment and education , hands on involvement and leadership, guidance , and an educator , a father and a Grandfather he easily and gracefully participated in all roles and made it all look easy. When I sat and talked to him I felt that I was in the presence of worldly and profound knowledge and he would put everyone at ease even while we were thousands of miles away from home. No doubt his legacy will continue to thrive as the school grows and expands thanks in part to the foundation he built. Rest in peace Mr Bekele
Bekele’s devotion to Seeds of Africa, his family, and community was felt as soon as you met him. His grace, wisdom and calm and vibrant energy connected people and gave them a sense of their own power. He was the honorary patriarch of Seeds, our friend, and will never leave the hearts of those he met and inspired. Thank you, Bekele for your gifts! We miss you so very deeply.
The news was really shocking and heart breaking. I am so sad to lose such a person. He was a good leader,a father and a friend. Who worked hard to win all the expectations and everyone’s happiness. And an example for all of us around. RIP father I will miss you! My condolance to his family, all seeds family and my sweet heart kisest bekele! Hareg Limenh
Yetemwork Sisay, Teacher
I have no word or sentence to express my felling to Ato bekele death. This event should be taken as a loss for seeds. I lost my father bear up and strength for the family.
Marth Mulu, Teacher
I am here to say I feel deep grief by the death of Ato bekele alemu. I wish strength and bear up for the whole family.
Yitagesu Worku, Operation Manager
First of all I would like to say sorry and I felt deep sad in the bottom of my heart. Mr. bekele alemu he was a hard worker, responsible, patient and he is a father to me until he passed away. Bekele was strong at TRC with work, sharing experience for others and was a great advisor and had played a great real to seeds until passed away. Rest in peace mr bekele!!!!
Zekarias A/Tsion, Teacher
We work had been a great time with MR. bekele alemu until he passed away. and really so sorry in the bottom of my heart. I would like to say about him, he was strong at work and sharing his experience for other. And he was advisor. And he was played a great role at seeds and come up seeds at this stage! Rest in peace!
Abdulwahid Muketar, Teacher
Since I have been in seeds of Africa Ato bekel was a great leader, as well as father even we called him by its nick name “gash beke” because they have good attachment with workers and I fell sorry about an expected death. Rest in peace.
Fortuna Sisay, Teacher
It’s impossible to express how sorry I am that Ato bekele Alem has pass away. The word can’t express how sorry I am and also I am deeply grieved to hear of my head master passing I hardly know Ato bekele is a very hard worker and a very good person. I know he is in heaven now and I will miss him so much and I will never forget the happy memories with him. I promise I will do any help for your family. Our walk won’t be the same without him trotting by your side. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Lastly may god live an soul to the heaven and peace rest.
Genene Dejene, Teacher
I am extremely in a bad feeling and heart broken by unexpected death of Ato Bekele alemu as far as I am concerned, Ato bekele was highly dedicated, positive thinker, visionary, excellent leader, extrovert behavior and a very good father truly speaking. I am in scare of words to give a full explanation about him in short, I am very painful and in a great sorrow about unexpected death of Ato bekele alem. Thank you
Nebiyu Tadesse, Teacher
Losing such a prominent and an extraordinary leader is not simple for an organization. He was one of the corner stone (backbone) of the organization to bring the dream true. He dedicated a lot of his time and effort to bring seeds of Africa foundation to its today’s condition. Ato bekele was one of the best leader I have ever seen. He has the quality of motivating, organizing and monitoring, skills. He used to work his trust. Courage, that is why seeds trust to him for such a long time. I appreciate his organization sense of belongingness. I have learnt many thing from him. I was he could be with us to see and work for the dream school. Finally Ato bekele has gone. I am ready to uphold his legacy.
Rest in peace heaven.
Netsanet Tsegaye, Teacher
It’s bad to guest such kind of happening to lost our head master ato bekele alemu. I am here to express my internal feeling about his death. I have learnt a lot about courage and strength on behalf him at this old. I felt grief. I wish courage strength and bear up for the family.
Selamawit Kebede, Assistant Headmaster
I am in heartbroken that write this letter. I am in heartbroken that I lost ato bekele suddenly he was committed person, hardworking him an being. He was truly good role model for us as well as the whole seeds community. He was a great contribute for the advancement of seeds of Africa foundation from the beginning today seeds missed a great leader as a result this is a very difficult time for all of us. To end, I wish peace and rest for him well stability for his family as a whole.
Negusu Tolosa, Teacher
Ato bekele was a great leader and father of Africa foundation for the last eight years. He was kind, conflict resolver and role model for all of us. Ato bekel was a dedicated person to seeds of Africa. In addition to his management skill, technical skill and word working impressed me science for the last four month. I wish so much to be here with him for the last eight years. To end, I will work hard to cherish his legacy forever.
Shimelis Negash, Teacher
Ato bekele alemu was role model for us. He was a great and special leader and he was a key to solve our problem Ato bekele represents the words of leader, father, friend as well as councilor. Starting to the point he managed seeds by the democratic way. It’s best to say he manage all seeds staff as a father not as a leader. Ato Bekele was a man who creates in our mind as we feel seeds as a family. Truly speaking by the death of Ato bekele I feel as I lost my biological father. I wish rest in peace for our great dad.
Genet Damtew, Representatives,
I am with heart broken and devastated about Ato bekel alemu passing. He had great (special) Attachment with me and the board. When I asked him to work with me to fulfil my daughter dream, he was accepted my request without any compromise. We were passed many up and and down situation from the begin (pilot program) he was very strong, committed, and willing full to any work that requested by the board. Bekele was the base for the 00000 advancement of seeds of Africa foundation until his passing. In general I wish great recovery for his family and colleague as a whole from this an unexpected accident (death).
Endalkachew Worku, Administrative Assistant and Documentation Manager
It Is A Heavy Heart That I Write This Letter. Ato Bekele Was Father Figure, Great Leader And The Father Of Seeds Of Africa Foundation. Gash Bekele Was My Teacher, When I Was In Grade Five. He Was Kind, Ethical and Sociable Humankind. He Was A Great Contributor For The Advancement Of Seeds Of Africa Foundation. I Learned A Lot Of Things From Him. Ato Bekele Thought Me Office Work Specially Documentation System. Finally I Wish Great Bear Up For Him and Strength for His Family