How Mary would have been moved to see such a gathering of friends and other associates who have been touched directly or indirectly through her untiring support.Â All have come together to commemorate her loving memory as we bid her farewell.
An upright and principled lady that she was, she was also unassuming and would not give much credence to the difference that she brought about to the lives of individuals and to the wider Eritrean cause.
Maryâ��s support for Eritrea goes back to the mid-70â��s.Â One of her written pieces of work, a chapter on â��Ethiopian Violation of Human Rights in Eritreaâ��, (in the book The Long Struggle of Eritrea) based on her visits to the country in 1983 and 84, highlights how during the years of the struggle for independence, Eritrea was suffering atrocities at the hands of an Ethiopian military occupation and an intelligence system master-minded by the then East Germans.Â Against this background Mary, who was then working with War On Want, gave her time and commitment to help in establishing the Eritrean Relief Association in UK (ERA) in late 70â��s.
Mary was instrumental in introducing, promoting and linking ERA with the bigger charities, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Cafod and others including MPâ��s, Lords and Ministers.Â Mary deeply identified with the plight of the Eritrean people and continued her unflinching support even after our independence.Â In February 2009 she gave an inspiring talk at the ERA seminar encouraging and appealing to young Eritreans to build on what their forefathers had achieved.
She had planned to visit Eritrea in February 2010 and was particularly interested to visit some of the womenâ��s projects in the country, an interest she maintained since the days of the Struggle, when womenâ��s issues were undergoing major development. She could not travel due to an injury to her ankle.
In the late 80â��s Mary was again strongly behind the formation of the Eritrean Community in UK (ECUK) and shared her office on City Road and later in Upper Street.
Mary was not known for mincing her words â�� she always said what she meant and sincerely meant what she said.Â This trait was often unappreciated by some in the British establishment â�� but did she care? â�� No.Â She would firmly plod on in what she believed.
Mary was an avid and varied reader, and when ERA was involved, together with another Eritrean organisation (AGE) in a project â��Books for Eritreaâ��, she donated a ton of her books.
As a matter of principle, Mary refused to acknowledge any benefit from any form of electronic technology and treated all with great suspicion.Â To the end she did not own a mobile or a credit card, did not have an e-mail address, did not surf the internet, and would not take any overdraft or loans from the banks.Â She preferred her manual typewriter to any desk or lap top computer.Â Despite it all Mary kept abreast with the latest world political issues and shone with her highly informed and insightful debates.
Personally, I have lost a great friend and will miss Mary in a big way.Â ERA-UK will always remember Maryâ��s name and hold her in high esteem.
As a tribute to Maryâ��s many years of unwavering support, ERA-UK presented her family with a tree (Liquidambar or Sweet Gum) to grow for many years in her living memory.