“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.” Rabindranath Tagore
We are very saddened to announce the death of Desta Girma. His death has come as a very big shock to all of us. On behalf of all of us at Africa Alliance of YMCAs, I extend our genuine sympathies to his family, Ethiopia YMCA, Pittsburgh YMCA, YMCA USA and the people of Ethiopia during this period of distress.
Desta was the first General Secretary of Alliance of YMCAs. He joined the Alliance as the General Secretary from March 1977 to May 1985. His impressive work at the Alliance saw different partners come in to join the cause of building strong YMCAs in Africa. During his tenure as the General Secretary, Desta made sure that Africa YMCAs join the Alliance, so that together we can empower young people in the continent.
Desta joined YMCA in his early years while still in college. As a student at George Williams College, he worked at the night desk at Wabash St YMCA, the largest Y Hotel in Chicago at that time.
He also served as the National Secretary General of Ethiopia YMCA, as the NGS, Desta initiated several projects for young people especially working with orphans. Together with other partners, Desta participated in establishing Ethiopia’s First resident youth camp on the shores of Lake Langano.
Until his demise, Desta was working at Pittsburgh YMCA, being responsible in overseeing the African Desk. Desta was in many ways a result of family upbringing and discovery of potential by YMCA World Service as it were during this era. At Africa Alliance, we are privileged to be part of his story and forever grateful for all his efforts in building YMCA.
His death leaves a gap in the movement that still needs strong and vigilant forces of change to continue the work of empowering young people for African Renaissance.
As the Africa Alliance of YMCAs we stand with the family, friends and Ethiopia at large through these hard times. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary AAYMCA