Calgary

Calgarian mourns World Food Programme colleagues killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash

“They were all passionate about reaching zero hunger or passionate about women's rights and getting kids in school and inclusion and things that really are troubling in the world right now."

Lauren Webber works as a consultant for the World Food Programme in its Germany offices

Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, March 11, 2019. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)

A Calgarian working as a consultant for the World Food Programme who lost seven colleagues in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 on board says the tragedy should serve as a reminder of the importance of humanitarian work.

"They were all passionate about reaching zero hunger or passionate about women's rights and getting kids in school and inclusion and things that really are troubling in the world right now," said Lauren Webber — daughter of Calgary-Confederation MP Len Webber — who works as a consultant in the World Food Programme offices in Germany.

"They would want us to continue and carry their torch for them and not let their work go undone or unfinished. It's our calling, as it is for the rest of the UN family and other agencies who died yesterday, we have to continue and keep them in our thoughts and in our hearts and continue the work that they were doing so selflessly."

Seven people based out of the World Food Programme headquarters in Italy were on board Flight ET302, which crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa around 8:45 a.m. local time Sunday, killing all 157 on board. The Boeing 737 Max 8 was destined for Nairobi.

Two of the seven World Food Programme employees killed in the crash were from Italy. The others were from Nepal, Indonesia, China, Ireland and Serbia.

Lauren Webber, who works as a consultant for the World Food Programme in its Germany offices, lost seven colleauges in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. (Submitted by Lauren Webber)

The group, along with several others on board, was on their way to a United Nations conference in Kenya.

The World Food Progamme does work in 83 countries around the world, helping feed more than 91 million people each year.

"We had a moment of silence and just mourned and reflected on these amazing people, who were willing to travel and work so far from their homes and be away from their loved ones to help make the world a better place," said Webber.

"It was a plane full of people that were trying to make the world a better place and end poverty and end hunger. They were so young. It was their calling and they were doing what they loved and their lives were taken so soon in such a crazy, senseless accident."

Webber says she flew the same route 20 times last year.

"They call it the UN Shuttle because it quite a big diplomatic hub where there are a lot of big conferences and meetings," she said.

"It just could have been any one of us."

Calgarian Derick Lwugi was on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sunday that crashed, killing all 157 people on board. (Facebook via Canadian Press)

A total of 18 Canadians were killed in the crash, including Calgarian Derick Lwugi, 54, an accountant for the city and founder of the Kenyan Community in Calgary group.

Carleton University professor Pius Adesanmi, a mother-daughter pair from Edmonton, Amina Ibrahim Odowa, 33, and her daughter Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, and Winnipeg activist Danielle Moore were also among the Canadian victims.

Webber said another friend, Stéphanie Lacroix of Timmins, Ont., was working as an intern with UNICEF.

"I just can't imagine the suffering their families are feeling today and will suffer for a long time," she said.

"I know that there was a UN Association in Canada group that were there as part of the Canada Service Corps.

"It likely was a group of young people going as the youth delegation, so I can only imagine all the young bright souls that haven't been named yet."

Edmonton woman Amina Ibrahim Odowa, 33, and her daughter Sofia Abdulkadir, 5, were also killed in the crash, a family member confirmed to CBC News. (Submitted by Mohamed Ali)

Knowing the world is grieving along with them makes it a little easier, said Webber.

"I know the humanitarian and development community is not alone today," she said.

"The world is grieving so I guess I can take comfort in that. Their memories will live on and we can continue their legacy for them.

"We have to continue their legacies of kindness and love and taking care of one another. We have to do better now because they're not here anymore."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Dormer

Web writer

Dave Dormer joined CBC Calgary in May 2016. A graduate of the SAIT photojournalism program, Dave has worked in print and television newsrooms across western Canada. Story ideas can be sent to dave.dormer@cbc.ca

With files from Lucie Edwardson

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