ECHO holds memorial service for a former staff member
A memorial service was held Monday in North Fort Myers to honor the life of Cheryl Beckett, one of the 10 aid workers recently ambushed and executed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Beckett was part of a medical team planning to provide medical, eye and nutritional care to the people there.
The service was held at ECHO — Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization.
“It was a private time for just the current staff to spend some time together celebrating Cheryl’s life and the impact she had on the Afghan people,” said ECHO’s president Stan Doerr.
Beckett, 32, served as an intern at ECHO in 2001 and then came back to work there. The nprofit ECHO group is a world-leader in tropical agricultural resources and study.
“I was with Cheryl when she came back to work in our seed bank, right before leaving on her first trip to Afghanistan,” Doerr said. “She had been going to Afghanistan for over five years now.”
He said they never lost touch.
“We kept in contact all the time, and she was excited about going up in the mountains and this remote area where they were taking the trip,” he said. “She knew it was an area where people did not have access to help and knew she could be part of a team that could provide that help — medical and nutritional.”
She was trained in both disciplines, he said.
“She was a fantastic young lady, very committed, very friendly and very dedicated to helping the poor around the world,” he added.
A native of Knoxville, Tenn., she was the daughter of Pastor Charles Beckett, who leads a church in Knoxville, Doerr said, adding he’s been in touch with the family.
“I was shocked when I heard the news,” he said. “You always think something like this will happen to a stranger, someone you don’t know, but when it is someone you do know, it takes a piece of your heart.”
The workers were reported to be ambushed and killed by Taliban fighters, with the Taliban claiming those killed were spies and preachers of Christianity, killing them as they were returning from a trip to a remote northern area.
After the recent service, Doerr said Beckett embraced the intense, hands-on and international scope of her internship program and subsequent work at ECHO.
“Cheryl certainly did not not waste her life, she made every day count,” he said.