Amref mourns loss of devoted German founder

by Amref Health Africa

Amref Health Africa is mourning the loss of the founder of the organisation’s office in Germany, Leonore Semler, who passed away peacefully last Friday at her home in Munich. She was 95.

In 1963, when Amref Health Africa founder Sir Michael Wood travelled to Europe to raise funds for the organisation’s work and mission, he met Leonore Semler, the wife of a prominent European Community politician Dr Johannes Semler, and convinced her to start an Amref office in Germany to raise funds for work in Africa. A few days later, with the help of Prince Constantine of Bavaria, Amref in Germany had its first donation of DM10,000. Not long afterwards, Leonore managed to convince Mr Walter Scheel, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, to pay the salary of a surgeon and paediatrician for Amref, and to donate an aeroplane.

Over the next 50 years, Leonora worked tirelessly to spread the word on the work of Amref and the Amref Flying Doctors throughout Germany and Europe, raising millions of euro that went into improving health for thousands of people in Africa.

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Until 2009 Leonora was Chair of Amref in Germany Board, and was afterwards named Honorary President of the Board. She was also an Honorary Director of Amref’s International Board of Directors. The German Government conferred upon her one of the country’s highest honours for her social work, the Federal Cross of Merit ‘Das Bundesverdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland’.

Leonora truly dedicated her life to Amref. She will be remembered in Germany and across all of Amref globally with fond affection and deep respect for her tireless support and dedication to Amref and the people of Africa,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa Group CEO.

Predeceased by her husband 60 years ago, Leonora leaves two children, Reni and Michael, and several grandchildren. She will be buried on November 3.

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