A Tribute to a Friend

Last night, as she slept, a friend of mine passed into eternity.  Ellen Daniels Howell, until recently the executive director of the Global Interfaith Partnership (GIP), lost her fight with cancer. She passed away surrounded by family. Today, we gathered as a board of directors and shared thoughts, prayers and memories of Ellen.  We each told of what she meant to us, and to all the people she touched through the work and the other aspects of her life.  I have known her for almost 10 years, working together on the Umoja project that continues to feed and educate the most vulnerable children in the HIV/AIDS ravaged area in Western Kenya. "Mama" Ellen, as she is called in Kenya, was the founding director of the program with a small board and little support, but today the community around Chulaimbo, Kenya and here in Indianapolis are different and better places because of it. Ellen helped craft the vision that led to approaching the task not simply to solve but to build relationships , those relationships drove the program as labor of love.  As a GIP community, we listened to each other, we celebrated with each other and made the tragic events easier to handle.  We were about people not problems.
 
This evening, when we gathered, it was clear how much Ellen affected people she met.  People spoke how Ellen lived her beliefs out loud. She saw value in everyone she met, she saw the spark of Godness in all of humanity. It was that that she helped us find in ourselves.   She had a talent for reaching people's hearts and minds to help them find their better self.  She had a knack for asking people to make their lives more complicated by helping others.  And many, including me, did it with joy.  She found a way to make us find our own better selves.

I will miss my friend, my teacher, my mentor.  I was privileged by having had the ability to learn from her over the last decade.  I will miss her spirit and passion.  I will miss her book suggestions (she really increased my reading list) and I will miss her voice that challenged us and cheered us.  May Mama Ellen be welcomed into the arms of the Eternal and may she rest in peace.   

Comments

Diantha said…
How lovely. Thank you so much, and for all the work being carried on by the Umpja Project. I will miss my sister more than I can say. Diantha Daniels

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