Celebrating 6 Years of Humanitarian Heroes07 Aug 2017
Nominations for the Humanitarian Hero Award are now open, calling on the general public to choose who they believe should join the HHA wall of fame at this year’s AidEx. The award recognises and celebrates individuals from any area of the humanitarian and development aid community and showcases the courageous work and dedication that they put into their line of work. As the award reaches its 5th anniversary, we look back at the previous winners and remember the commendable work that they have achieved.
If you know a Humanitarian Hero, nominate them here before Friday 22 September.
2011 – Janina Ochojska, Founder of Polish Humanitarian Action
Following some time volunteering in France, Janina felt a desire to bring humanitarian activity to her home country and inspire Polish people to care for those in need. Polish Humanitarian Action was born during the onset of the Bosnian War, in 1992. The small NGO was initially run out of a room in a private apartment, just several years after the fall of communism in Poland.
From these small beginnings, PHA is now based all over the world, having helped with relief efforts in Haiti, Ukraine, The Philippines, Nepal and Syria. One thing that founder, Janina Ochojska says remains the same today is, ‘We don’t go to the places where there are a lot of NGOs, we go to the places where we know that our involvement will make a difference.’
2012 – Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenyan Red Cross
Dr Gullet began his work in the humanitarian field when he volunteered in the first aid youth service. That was just the beginning of his dedication towards helping others. Since then, he has helped to build the Kenyan Red Cross into the leading humanitarian organisation in the country, but has also gained recognition much further afield. The Kenyan Red Cross is even considered as one of the best performing National Red Cross Societies globally.
Named UN person of the year in 2007, and again in 2009 Dr Gullet has also been awarded the Utetezi (Civil Society) Award by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. He helped organise the first AidEx Africa which was held in his native Kenya last year where top officials from Kenya Red Cross spoke about the many development issues faced by those living in Kenya.
2013 – Dr Jumana Odeh, Palestinian Happy Child Centre
Jumana Odeh set up the Happy Child Centre in Palestine to help promote the welfare and wellbeing of children with special needs in Palestine. Special needs is still an issue which is considered as a taboo subject in the Arab world. The model applied by Dr Odeh includes a training element for the children’s parents, teaching them how to care for their children. This is particularly relevant for this region of the world given that reaching a medical centre is often challenging in itself.
Since her initial efforts in Palestine Dr Odeh is now being asked to set up the same model in different parts of the Arab world, including Dubai, an opportunity which came out of the increased visibility from winning the Humanitarian Hero Award: ‘Winning the award gave me more recognition, even locally. I would be walking down the street and the butcher or the greengrocer would say they had voted for me for the Humanitarian Hero Award. Parents of the children also became more involved meaning that Happy Child has received more social support which is all part of our mission and vision.’
2014 – Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, Pour un sourire d’enfant
Cambodian-based Pour un sourire d’enfant started when Christian and Marie-France visited Stung Meanchey landfill site in Phnom-Penh when on mission with an NGO. They were shocked by the conditions in which they found a group of children living there. Upon their return to France, they spoke to their family and friends of the horrors that they had witnessed and so they decided to found the NGO in a bid to improve the education and wellbeing of these children.
Since its early days, PSE has delivered education to 4,000 of Cambodia’s poorest children as well as providing vocational training to an additional 1,500. The NGO also engages in a range of other extracurricular support schemes such as feeding programmes and helping find accommodation for vulnerable children.
2015 – Sean Casey, International Medical Corps
Sean Casey was the first person deployed by International Medical Corps to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Since August 2014, under Casey’s leadership, International Medical Corps has cared for nearly 2,500 patients in its Ebola Treatment Centres (ETCs) in Liberia and Sierra Leone, trained thousands of front-line Ebola responders, screened hundreds of thousands of individuals through its SRUs in the three most-affected countries, and provided ongoing support to hundreds of Ebola survivors.
Today he serves as Regional Director - West Africa/Ebola Response for International Medical Corps. In addition to Casey’s work on the Ebola response, he was also one of the first humanitarian responders to this year’s earthquake in Nepal, where he was taking a brief holiday when the quake hit.
2016 – Dr. Cynthia Maung, Mae Tao Clinic
Medical doctor Cynthia Maung has dedicated three decades of her life to helping provide healthcare, education and human rights to poor people of minority ethnic groups. After the pro-democracy demonstrations in Burma in 1988, Dr. Muang fled Karen State where she was born, and opened a clinic across a Thai-Burma border in a dilapidated on the outskirts of Mae Sot. Starting as makeshift clinic with limited supplies and almost no money, her clinic now treats over 75,000 patients a year.
Dr. Cynthia works with a staff of 550 people to provide health education and protection to conflict-affected communities, migrant workers and displaced children who have little recourse to services elsewhere. She and her staff work closely with other community based organizations to strengthen the health system in Eastern Burma. Mae Tao Clinic has also been a training hub for more than 20 years, with over 3000 health workers having been trained to provide primary health care in conflict areas where no other service was available.
Do you know a Humanitarian Hero? Make sure they are recognised for all of their hard work and dedication and nominate them here before Friday 25 September.