Eulogy for Fred Brooker
Fred Brooker, Principal Education Expert for the Centre for Employment Initiatives, passed away on mission in Manila, January 15th, aged 59. Fred was an internationally acclaimed education expert who worked in 15 countries, covering Africa, Asia, America and the European sub-continents. He began his distinguished career in Finland where he developed a keen interest in literacy, and served as an in-service teacher training from 1987, to 1991. He first started working overseas with long term assignment in Namibia, and Mozambique, followed by a long-term advisory position in Zambia (1998 to 2007). In all these countries Fred played a key role in driving forward the education reform agenda. In 2008, Fred started his career with AusAID as a senior advisor in Papa New Guinea (2008 to 2012), followed by a period as a senior adviser for AusAID in Timor-Lest until 2015. From then, Fred became the Principal Education Adviser at the Centre for Employment Initiatives, where he worked on senior advisory positions in Zambia, the Philippines, the Pacific, and Indonesia. Fred was a larger than life character who will deeply missed by his family, his colleagues and those who were touch by his life. Fred leaves behind a wife, Mafwizo, sons Patrick and Cody, and a daughter Isabella. Fred’s funeral was held in Zambia on the 29th of January,2018.
In memory of Fred Brooker and his contribution to education globally and particularly in PNG, the Pacific and Timor-Leste, Mafwizo Brooker has proposed donations to Plan International in Timor-Leste. Plan says the donations will go to their mobile library project in Aileu and Ainaro and they will also write a special children’s book in Fred’s memory.
Plan International (Australia) is kindly going to collect the funds and transfer them to Timor-Leste. So you can donate at the Plan donation program page, then email Kirk firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know about your donation. That way Kirk can track the funds for Timor-Leste.
I first met Fred about 8 years ago when I worked at the Australian Embassy, under an Australian Aid funded project. I heard about Fred from colleagues and was intimidated when I first met him. He carries a definite presence. Overtime this intimidation turned into respect and eventual friendship. He was a man of integrity and always willing to champion the underdog or those in need. I was lucky to be his neighbour for over 1 year. During this period, we developed into good friends and shared many experiences. Looking back on these experiences, most of them always ended with a joke and us laughing (normally at me). Most days we would meet for coffee and lots of chocolate, and share our experiences (or in most cases what we thought were problems). We could talk for hours and hours about the same problem (much to the annoyance of our wives). Fred became a driving force at CEI and key in pushing forward our work in education. He developed a significant portfolio of work and became instrumental in pushing forward innovative ideas and reforms across Africa, South East Asia and especially the Pacific. He was truly a unique person and touched the lives of those around him. He has left a huge vacuum personally and professionally for those who came into contact with him, and will be impossible to replace at CEI. I know that he will be watching us from above and seeing how we try to cope without him. God bless you Fred Brooker.
Dr Marcus Powell, Friend and Colleague
Fred Brooker was a father, dear friend and colleague and I was fortunate to have had opportunities to work with Fred. Fred was passionate about his work and believed strongly that what he was doing made a difference. He dedicated his life to improving the lives of those less fortunate by working to bring reform in Education to some of the most challenging political and economic environments. Fred was brilliant technically which contributed to his successes but Fred also made efforts to understand the people and places he worked in and could communicate and therefore drive reform using meaningful dialogue. It was his unique abilities to relate to others and to understand the situations that others faced that enabled Fred to succeed in often difficult and challenging circumstances.
I looked forward to working with Fred, not just for his insights and earnest work ethic, but also for his warm personality and good humor which would help pass evenings while away from home. Fred would liven a room with stories of his adventures throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and of course Finland where he spent some of his youth. However, whilst Fred was passionate about his work and lively in his telling of stories, it was clear that Fred’s true passion and driving force was his family. Fred was truly dedicated to his family and he would often talk about his family and the adventures he would have with his children and regularly shared pictures of them during his time on the road. We will all miss you Fred but most of all your family will miss you. You were a unique person and one of the best and I am grateful for the time were able to share together.
My memory of Fred was his ability to turn the most tedious subjects into something interesting, and his positivity about everything, from the wonders of Zoom, in comparison to Skype to Apple products versus Android. What I most liked about Fred was that he would never take no for an answer, which at times drove me nuts in my attempts to stop him being a wild card at CEI, however that was just Fred’s way push forward and engage the new, and this he did to the full!
I will miss his sense of humour and his smile.
Louise @ CEI
I have many fond memories with Fred in Manila, not least exploring exotic food joints around the city. It is really difficult to imagine he is no longer with us, and I cannot even begin to comprehend what his family must be going through. Please pass on our collective condolences to Mafwizo and Cody, as well as his children in Finland.
Dr. Shrochis Karki | Consultant and Education Systems Manager| Education Portfolio | Oxford Policy Management
We are devastated to hear of Fred’s death. Fred will be so missed. Fred is totally irreplaceable. I am trying to write down all his bad jokes so I don’t forget them!
Director | Alumni Engagement
I am deeply saddened by this news. We really are sorry for your loss and please pass our condolences to his family.
Grants and Program Manager, AECOM
We are deeply saddened by this devastating news and the passing of Fred Brooker. We are thinking of you and Fred’s family.
Please let us know if there is anything we can do. Fred’s early collaboration with us on our Legends project was critical in addressing some of the educational challenges that are unique to the South Pacific. Fred was also so very excited about Tash’s project. Early on, he emphasized the importance of getting the community involved in our work, “The community is largely missing from the design,” he said. “The biggest challenge is to get genuine buyin at the implementation level. Stronger role for the community / consider bringing in a group of old ‘storytellers’ from the community to develop the stories and work with the children in the schools.”
Fred would be pleased to know that we do have a robust plan for community engagement and storytelling for the Legends project in Fiji and Tonga.
He will be deeply missed. I’ll leave you with one other advice Fred gave that will resonate with me for a long time:
“Beware the old, cynical naysayers (talking about myself sadly) – they will give you 100 reasons why this initiative will fail. Listen to what they say, filter it, trust your gut and then implement.”
Please share our condolences with Mafwizo Brooker as well.
davar ardalan | secondmuse
director of storytelling and engagement
It’s such a shock and a loss to hear this – Fred’s humour and humanity was a tonic for many of us.,
Cameron Bowles Director, Strategy, Performance and Learning Pacific Community
I am so sorry to hear this news. Please keep us in touch with arrangements for the funeral and pass our condolences to Fred’s family and to you all at CEI.
Regional Director Ecorys International Development
Fred’s long-standing relationship with us, and his contribution to the education programme in Samoa, was highly valued and he will be missed.
Felauai Lagi Tuaniu
Development Programme Coordinator, New Zealand High Commission, Apia | Manatū Aorere
I first met Fred in flesh when I visited Timor Leste but I could not say much because we only say hi to each other. I can remember he smiled and waving from his car while I was walking on Pantai Kelapa. In short, as a colleague, I cannot say more but respect for he is very strong for he can travel to multiple countries and still replying email. One thing about Fred is, he did not like me asking his age. He said while laughing and telling me his age: “You made me feel old. Now you know how old I am”. He is humorous, and he is a good education expert and very patience. Fred was a driving force for CEI and indispensable. His absence is shocking and a great lost for all of us. Bon voyage and God bless you Fred Brooker.
Andrew Sitorus – Colleague
I first met Fred in 2014 when we were working together on SABER EMIS projects in the Pacific. Since then, Fred has been a constant friend, mentor and colleague. I have had the best time working with him on projects. Everyone just loved him on the field- every Ministry office, donor office, all the places where he had worked. He is one of most amazing people I have ever met. There is SO much that I have learnt from him in course of these four years- be it about work, managing and working with people and thinking about education and development. I would talk to him over zoom every two weeks, and it was the best spent one hour of my week. Its hard to imagine that I won’t be able to hear his voice or his amazing sense of humor anymore.
Namrata Saraogi, Colleague and Friend