ADEA’s Tribute to Thanh-Hoa

Good bye Thanh-Hoa: The Torch that Bravely Blazed Africa’s Education for over a Decade is Finally Extinguished

You entered into the world of education with much freshness, passion and vigour when you walked into ADEA’s offices at UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) in Paris more than 20 years ago. You dedicated yourself totally into ADEA’s work, taking courses on communication and public relations, producing an increasing number of publications and brochures, selecting art works for the Biennial posters, producing the Biennial programs and many more. In your quiet nature, you took well-deserved pride in all this, and remained very kind, helpful, courageous and effective. Honouring you is not just about remembering a colleague who has devoted most of her professional life to ADEA and has made a major contribution to the evolution of this institution, it is also to evoke the person, the human being that you were, with the energy, the commitment and the determination that you put in all that you did, but also with the fragility, great restraint and the fear of indulging that characterized you.

The shocking news of cancer in 1999 was devastating to you and to all of us – indeed it was one of those low moments in life. But this did not slow you down; you took the news courageously in your stride and soldiered on; ill-health could not stop your thirst to persevere. Though painfully at times, your courage and true grit became more than evident: you continued working, producing the various ADEA publications; you dedicated your full energy into making the Akintola Fatoyinbo prize for education journalism in Africa a resounding success, working with the man whose name the prize bears.

You have finally lost the long battle with cancer, but we celebrate your life with many fond memories of the impressive will-power, creativity and dynamism that you possessed, even in an adverse personal context:

“Thanh-Hoa was such a good colleague, very hard working and always a good team player.  I remember Jean Marie telling me that whenever he left her as acting Executive Secretary, he had no worries because she was such a thorough professional.  We all know how much she struggled with her ailment and yet she always put on such a brave face.  We will certainly miss her.” Dzingai MUTUMBUKA, former Chair of ADEA Steering Committee.

“Thanh-Hoa’s courage was evident to me well before her cancer. With little formal training for her ADEA position, she threw herself into her work and did a marvellous job of learning all about it, producing the ADEA Newsletters and sharing ideas for ADEA’s then communication strategy. Thanh-Hoa’s will power was impressive.” Richard SACK, former ADEA Executive Secretary.

“I have trouble talking about Thanh-Hoa in the past. She has given a lot of herself in caring for others, but she has forgotten herself by not asking and not accepting that we take care of her. She lived in discretion and restraint. She managed her suffering in silence and went away very discreetly. I am glad to know that she has been delivered from her sufferings of this world, and that henceforth her soul lives in light, peace and serenity". Jean-Marie BYLL-CATARIA, former ADEA Executive Secretary.

“My relationship with Thanh-Hoa was one of a colleague, friend and confidant.  When I assumed duties as Executive Secretary in 2014, she became my “go to person” in the office and my “go to person” outside of the office. In my entire professional career, I am yet to come across someone as committed, dedicated and passionate about her work as Thanh-Hoa.  Her greatest asset to me was her ‘contagious smile’.  She was warm and caring and indeed a true friend.” Oley DIBBA-WADDA, former ADEA Executive Secretary.

“I remember Thanh-Hoa as a key member of the small team that made ADEA a success, led successively by Chris, Richard and Mamadou. I remember her as always being very kind and helpful and very effective in her own, quiet way.” Birger FREDRIKSEN, leading expert on the development of education in developing countries.

“Thanh-Hoa était une cadre très dévouée et engagée. Elle a beaucoup apporté à l’ADEA.” Aïcha BAH DIALLO, former Minister for Education, Guinea and women's rights activist.

“She made enormous contribution to communicating, understanding and appreciation of issues of development of education in Africa. I was privileged to know and work with her at IIEP and ADEA, an interaction that enriched me and my work a great deal.” Kabiru KINYANJUI, former sub-Theme Coordinator, ADEA 2012 Triennale.

"I knew and shared ADEA offices in Tunis with Thanh-Hoa. We prepared together the Ouagadougou Triennale and so many other events. I remember her professionalism, her strong sense of work well done and her humanism. She fought and wanted to live so much. She had an extraordinary courage. The soul of Thanh-Hoa is now at peace and she does not suffer anymore” Prosper FAYE, ADEA Secretariat.

“Thanh-Hoa was extremely rigorous in the quality of her work, having particularly worked closely with her in preparing the Steering Committee meetings and the 2012 ADEA Triennale. I especially remember her extreme fatigue during the Triennale, due to her illness, but insisted that communication had to be efficient! She was also funny and liked to share with us some anecdotes from her many years at ADEA. She was one of the figures who had experienced ADEA’s evolution and was able to represent the Association in any circumstances. A special thought goes out to her son, whom she loved and protected so much, at such painful moments.” Raky GASSAMA, ADEA Secretariat.

“Thanh-Hoa will be remembered for the way she successfully handled the Akintola Prize, but also for her contribution to such biennales as those held in Grand Bay Mauritius and in Maputo, Mozambique. We will always keep in memory the "nuits blanches" spent at IIEP, together, on these assignments, consistently, discretely but efficiently, and with such positive spirit.” Ibrahima BAH-LALYA, former Coordinator, ADEA Working Group on Non-Formal Education.

"Thanh-Hoa Desruelles carried ADEA on her frail shoulders without ever wavering ... she gave soul to the organization, including COMED ... she knew the value of Communication for the development of education in Africa. She was a very meticulous woman who left no detail, but above all a great listener” Daouda MANE, Double Winner (First Prize and Special Prize) of the Akintola Fatoyinbo Prize.

Fare-thee well Thanh-Hoa. We are comforted by the fact that you have now gone to rest and are in a better place. 
You will always be part of our ADEA’s family!