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Remembering Refugees International’s Ken Bacon

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Ray Offenheiser is president of Oxfam America.

Just writing a personal note today to convey our deepest sympathies to the Refugees International staff at the loss of their president Ken Bacon.

I recently joined Ken for a meeting with Richard Holbrooke where Ken spoke with his characteristic passion and conviction about the importance of development aid that is designed for and with the same people who will benefit from the aid. At the time we spoke briefly about his illness, his smile and humor masked what was a much more serious prognosis.

It’s been great having Ken as a colleague and friend in our field for these last years. I have always felt that we could count on Ken and RI to take courageous stands and do it with grace, sophistication and yet toughness. We have appreciated those moments when it has been possible to collaborate on an op-ed or a high level meeting. Ken has always made the inter-institutional collaboration a pure pleasure.

I was delighted and touched to hear the wonderful eulogy that Scott Simon did this Saturday on Weekend Edition. It summed up Ken’s life beautifully. And his message and farewell to all of us was vintage Ken. We all, particularly those of us in the humanitarian field, need to take his message of hope and carry it with us close to our hearts every day.

We will all miss Ken’s presence, his generosity of spirit, and his commitment to the values that we seek to represent every day.

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