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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Somali Woman Wins Nansen Refugee Award

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The Nansen Refugee Award has been called
the "Nobel Prize for refugee workers."* The award is bestowed annually
on a person or group that has "provided extraordinary and dedicated
service to the forcibly displaced."* Past honorees include Senator
Edward Kennedy, Medecins Sans Frontiers, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The award is named for Fridtjof Nansen,
a polar explorer, diplomat, and the High Commissioner for Refugees for
the League of Nations (the precursor to the UN) from 1920 to 1930.* Mr.
Nansen helped hundreds of thousands of refugees return home or resettle
in new countries after World War I.* He also organized a relief effort
to help famine victims in Russia in 1921 and 1922.* For his efforts in
Russia, Mr. Nansen received the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize.

Funny how the people with the toughest jobs often have the biggest smiles.

This year's honoree is Hawa Aden Mohamed, who has helped thousands of
displaced women and girls in Somalia.* Ms. Mohamed, who is widely known
as Mama Hawa, escaped violence in Somalia and was a refugee in Kenya,
the U.S., and Canada.* She left the (relative) comfort of Canada in 1995
and returned to Somalia, where she established the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development.*
Through this organization, she has worked to secure women's rights and
bring free schooling, health care, and skills training to nine
communities in the Mudug region of Somalia.

In the early days of the Education Centre, it was attacked with
rocks, grenades and gunfire.* Its gate was bombed.* But Mama Hawa and
her colleagues did not give up.* "We persevered," she recalled, "and
slowly we convinced the elders and the women that what we were doing was
for the benefit of the community."

Today the Education Centre teaches girls and women to see themselves
as full members of society who possess fundamental human rights.* It
openly addresses the issues of female genital cutting, puberty, early
marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, and HIV/AIDS.* It prepares
women to play an active role in achieving peace, reconciliation,
democracy, and development in their country.

Mama Hawa will receive the Nansen Award on October 1st in Geneva.* If you find yourself in the neighborhood, the ceremony
looks to be worth attending.* If you would like to learn more about
Mama Hawa and her organization, or if you would like to contribute to
her worthy cause, you can do so here.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 02:04 PM by JDzubow

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