Eliana Zemmer – SBTF mapper, friend to many of us

Dear SBTF members, mappers

to our great great sadness we discovered last night that Eliana Zemmer, a wonderful person and incredibly dedicated crisis mapper had died recently in hospital, after a sudden illness.  She was only 39.

Many of us have extremely fond memories of working on deployments with Eliana and a few of us who had known her through her online engagement wrote the following – to try and convey something of what we knew of her and how much we appreciated having got to know her even a little bit.

Eliana was a crisismapper with the Standby Task Force. Everyone who worked alongside her knew Eliana as a consummate mapper – someone who put in her heart and soul, and was always there for the rest of us, helping, learning and supporting. What only a few of us knew ‘til recently was that she was quietly generous too, helping other mappers in need even though she didn’t have many resources herself.  Eliana worked on the Libya Crisis Map, Hurricane Irene Recovery Map and Somalia deployment, then coordinated the SBTF Reports Team for the Colombian Floods. A tireless volunteer and coordinator, the Libya deployment was a typical example of her work: she translated between multiple languages including French, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese, and was always available and keeping an eye on all the deployment volunteers.

Simply put, Eliana was a rock – patient, utterly dependable, an oasis of common sense when so many around her were losing perspective and over-reacting to the often admittedly terrible events we were covering – rare and priceless qualities. When things were especially stressful we could often release the tension by having little wry conversations in German on the side – where her gentle humour came to the fore. Eliana offered to assist info4disasters.org with first aid and other translations. She felt deeply about the importance of global healthcare. Not only did she advocate for medical needs that came to her attention, she assisted personally whenever and wherever she could. In her “spare” time, Eliana was active in developing a ready-to-post collection of “tweets” in Italian for any disaster or first aid need.

Between deployments, Eliana regularly welcomed newcomers into the SBTF chatroom, posted in multiple languages, made little parties in the Skype chat-rooms and used the squirrel symbol. A lot. Eliana was one of us, and will be missed by us all.

Meanwhile, we’d like to remember Eliana in actions as well as words, so here’s a suggestion for each of us: find a mapper that you haven’t spoken to for a while (or ever), friend them on Facebook, Skype or GooglePlus and say “hi – how are you”?

A translation of Eliana’s German obituary and links to her pages are below.

Eliana’s Obituary

And forever somewhere in the world … are traces of your life.  With a sad heart we are saying goodbye to our beloved Eliana, 4th October 1973 † 5th December 2012, who after a short difficult illness passed away peacefully in the Lord. We will accompany our beloved Eliana today, Friday 7 December, at 14.30, starting from the cemetery chapel, then on to the funeral service in the parish church of Seis followed by our final farewell in the local cemetery.

Seis, 5 December 2012.

We will never forget you: your son Saber, your parents Francis and Tamara, your brother Dimitri, your godmother Waltraud and on behalf of all the other relatives and acquaintances, we would like to thank the physicians and nurses from Bozen Hospital for the loving care.

“Und immer irgendwo…  sind Spuren deines Lebens. Mit traurigem Herzen nehmen wir Abschied von unserer lieben Eliana Zemmer  4. 10. 1973 † 5. 12. 2012. Die nach kurzer schwerer Krankheit friedlich im Herrn entschlafen ist. Wir begleiten unsere liebe Eliana heute, Freitag, den 7. Dezember, um 14.30 Uhr von der Friedhofskapelle ausgehend, zur Trauerfeier in die Pfarrkirche von Seis mit anschließender Verabschiedung im Ortsfriedhof.  Seis, den 5. Dezember 2012

Wir werden dich nie vergessen: dein Sohn Saber, deine Eltern Franz und Tamara, dein Bruder Dimitri, deine Patin Waltraud, und im Namen aller übrigen Verwandten und Bekannten.

Danken möchten wir den behandelnden Ärzten und dem Pflegepersonal vom Krankenhaus Bozen für die liebevolle Betreuung.”

Eliana’s pages:

  • Twitter

  • International Peace and Conflict

  • LinkedIn

  • Teachers Without Borders

  • CV

  • Facebook

  • GooglePlus

  • SBTF

  • Obituary

from the SBTF

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12 comments on “Eliana Zemmer – SBTF mapper, friend to many of us
  1. katherine says:

    What an inspiration, role model, and great motivation Eliana was. Her legacy lives on. Blessings to her, her loved ones, her family, and those whose lives she touched.

  2. ~Kay Endriss says:

    Eliana is one of the first people I worked with during a Standby Task Force deployment. She was supportive and made me feel like I was contributing something to help her, even though I was the new person. She will be missed by many “mapsters.” My heart goes out to her family and loved ones and others whose lives she touched even for the briefest of moments.

  3. jeannie hartley says:

    Dear Crisis mapping family:I did not have the pleasure and honor of knowing this wonderful woman Eliana Zemmer but after reading all these emails from those of you who did,  I’m very sorry that I missed that opportunity.I signed up to take the crisis mapper training some time ago but I work 3 jobs 7 days a week and Ive not yet been able to do that. I have never unsubscribed to the list because I still would like to. I also just recently acquired a laptop which obviously is needed for this kind of work (I had no working computer for some time before.)I have admiration for all of you who do this incredibly important work in crisis mapping.I do  tweet #Human Rights and #1staid4  (@Jeannie_Hartley) from my cell.The translations done for those @1staid4 tweets (@info4disasters)  are crucial to helping so many and we know from statistics @HelpEgyptheal has shared with us that thousands are going to the firstaid links and benefiting from these firstaid tweets.I’m confident in saying that Eliana probably saved more lives than we will ever know about with her contributions in the language translations for this first aid site.I send my deepest condolences and highest respect to everyone who knew this beautiful soul. Clearly we here on earth have lost a precious woman and amazing spirit while heaven has gained an extraordinary angel.With warmest regards and much love sending a huge hug to all of you.Jeannie Hartley

  4. Giuseppe Calamita says:

    I did not know ms. Eliana ZEMMER but I easily can guess her profile, in terms of human values.
    I’m lucky to be part of a community I see as a casket of gems. It is so rare to have the chance to meet such a group of peoples where it is possible to find much much more than volunteering opportunities.
    Bye Eliana I hope to find on my walk somebody like you, to share it.

    Giuseppe CALAMITA
    Bari, April 4th, 2013.

    Twitter: @cypherinfo
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/giuseppe.calamita.7

  5. Oludotun Babayemi says:

    Its a a big lose to the volunteering community, I worked with Eliana on several deployments with Humanity Road and the SBTF, spent much time together on the Libya Crisis Map Skype Window recategorizing when UNOCHA took over the map – she was like a big sister from far away Italy, the last time we met on skype was at the Uchaguzi testing excercise. ELIANA LEFT HER FOOTPRINT ON THE SANDS OF TIME. You touched and inspired mappers from Nigeria…Heavens definitely will host You!

  6. Melissa Elliott says:

    Still trying to process the news of Eliana’s passing. She and I worked closely together on many deployments as we were both on the reports team. Her humour, clear thinking, dedication, and willingness to mentor others are traits that we can only wish to find in others, and ourselves. Even when we’d worked stupid hours together, she never fell into a negative mode. She was always positive and wanting to do more, more, more – all in an effort to make this crazy world a little less so for those in need.
    My thoughts are with her family, her friends near and far, and our SBTF network that are now coming to terms with this loss. RIP beautiful Eliana.

  7. Chinweoke says:

    Having worked on the Libya crisis mapping deployment, I do remember Eliana (even though we never met in person). May she rest in perfect peace always and may her loved ones find the strength to cope, and keep doing good in the world, as Eliana did.
    She came, she saw, she helped and left her mark on the world. To God be the glory.

    With Faith,
    Helena Chinweoke Eke

  8. Marta Poblet says:

    My deepest condolences to the family of Eliana Zemmer. She was a wonderful woman, always supportive, reliable, and ready to help this and other volunteer communities and the people afflicted by disasters and emergencies all over the world. She generously spread her talent as a crisis mapper and multilingual translator in many deployments. She would always welcome us with the warmest cup of digital coffee and true friendship. I will fondly miss her good spirit, sense of humour, and inspiring dedication. Dear Eliana, you will live in our hearts.

  9. Kate Perino says:

    Eliana, it was a privilege to map alongside you. You will be missed and remembered by many.

  10. Md. Ehsanul Hoque says:

    I an so shocked to know her sudden departure! She was one of the best with offer of help always.
    May her soul rest in peace!

  11. Cat Graham says:

    I was so sadden by this news, I worked with Eliana on several SBTF Deployments including Libya and also on several responses with Humanity Road including Mount Aetna. She assisted with translations and was always friendly, a warm heart, bright and energetic. My condolences to her family and friends and may her soul rest in peace.

  12. Elena Rapisardi says:

    I had not the pleasure to know Eliana. And it has been a pity.
    Reading your messages I realized that she was a great woman, so generous, a warm-heart person.
    For her today I planted in my garden a calla lilly, a flower that I love. In italian the name is Calla that derives from the greek Kalòs that means beautiful, a flower pure, simple and perfect.
    A calla lilly to remember Eliana, to honor a person that gave so much to people.

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