Dr. Mohamud Sheikh Nurein Said Wins 2013 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award
By Erica Burman on Thursday, February 21st, 2013
A 40-year friendship that started with a high school student asking Peace Corps Volunteers what motivated them to volunteer has led to a lifetime of service and now to the 2013 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. When notified by Skype that he was the winner of this year’s award, Dr. Mohamud Sheikh Nurein Said of Kenya had this to say about the impact Peace Corps has had on his life and the importance he attached to the award:
My first encounter with a Peace Corps Volunteer was in I965 when I joined Marsabit Secondary School, Kenya. As a young boy, I wondered why these white people came to the remotest area in Kenya to assist us. Since then, I have been motivated by their spirit of volunteerism, and I never looked back. Throughout my life, from the University to my career as a doctor, I have always been involved in voluntary work and have always tried to serve those who had fewer opportunities than I have had.
In the words of his nominator, his high school science teacher, Peace Corps Volunteer Russell Morgan (Kenya 1966-1969): “After graduating from secondary school, Dr. Said pursued his vision and received his medical degree overseas. He then returned to Kenya to begin his family and his life’s work.” In addition to practicing medicine in Kenya, Dr. Said has served a much wider community.
- He rose through the ranks of the Kenya Red Cross Society, with over 70,000 volunteers, to be its Governor (President). He has devoted himself to assisting displaced persons and has been responsible for overseeing the largest refugee camp in the world with over 600,000 persons from the Somali crisis.
- A life-long member of the Kenya Medical Association, he founded and chaired the Human Rights Committee.
- He represented Africa on the Board of The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), headquartered in Denmark. He was later elected President, the first African to hold this position. The IRCT treats over 100,000 torture victims in its 150 centers in 75 countries in all the regions of the world.
- Over the last seven years, as the Coordinator of the Pedro Cavadas Foundation, headquartered in Valencia, Spain, Dr. Said’s team performed reconstructive surgery to poor children and adults from eight East African countries.
To bring his Peace Corps connections full circle, in the words of Russell Morgan:
Dr. Said has used his background, professional skills, and leadership to promote the future education of underprivileged girls in Kenya. And in an ironic twist, he has worked to link Peace Corps Volunteer services into these programs…. He is Chair of the Board of Bungoma Muslim Secondary School, which is currently hosting two Peace Corps Volunteers; and he is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Mumias Vocational Secondary School for Deaf Girls, the only one of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa, where he has helped secure Peace Corps Volunteer and U.S. Embassy support. Dr. Said and I have also been partners in working with the Kenya Peace Corps to send four new Peace Corps volunteers back to the Marsabit region, where they are serving today, and which he visits on a regular basis.
[Russell Morgan reconnected to Dr. Said’s life in 2007, nearly 40 years after their first encounter. Read about their visit to the NPCA offices in April 2012.]
Robert A. Pastor (Malaysia 1970-72 and winner of the 1995 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service) chaired the Global Leaders Award Advisory Council, which reviewed many deserving nominations. “We were impressed by the extent that Dr. Said credited Dr. Russell Morgan and other Peace Corps Volunteers for motivating him to continue his education and model his career on volunteerism,” Dr. Pastor said. “Dr. Said’s work in caring for refugees, rehabilitating the disabled, and defending the rights of all made us all proud to have been Volunteers, and it reminded us of the enduring legacy of the Peace Corps, one of our nation’s finest foreign policy initiatives.”
In his comments upon notification that he had won the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award for 2013, Dr. Said said, “I am happy to win an Award in the name of a great man, who himself recently was honored by President Obama for his lifetime commitments to service. He is someone who worked with the Late President John F Kennedy and met Mahatma Gandhi. I am even more motivated to carry on with his work in peace, justice and democracy.”
The Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award
The annual Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award honors an outstanding global leader who grew up in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served, whose life was influenced by the Peace Corps, and whose career contributed significantly to their nation and the world in ways that reflect shared values in human dignity and economic, social, and political development. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a global leader by the National Peace Corps Association. The winner will meet with elected officials and the media in Washington, DC in late June before traveling to Boston to present the Global Leaders Lecture and receive the award at NPCA’s Peace Corps Connect annual gathering, this year in Boston on June 28-29.
The Global Leaders Award Advisory Council was composed of Dr. Pastor, Jayne Booker (Benin 1973-1975 and member, NPCA Board of Directors), Florence Reed (Panama 1991-1993, Founder, Sustainable Harvest International and winner of the 2012 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service), Mark Schneider (El Salvador 1966-1968, Peace Corps Director 1999-2001 and Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group), and David Wofford (Vice President, Meridian Group International, Inc. and son of Harris Wofford), with support from Anne Baker (Fiji 1985-1987 and NPCA Vice President) and Tony Barclay (Kenya 1968-1970 and Chair, NPCA Board of Directors).
Join us for the National Peace Corps Association’s second annual gathering — Peace Corps Connect: Boston 2013.
We invite you all to Boston, Massachusetts on the weekend of June 28-29, 2013 for an event that will encourage you to continue “bringing the world back home” while visiting with friends and having fun. Learn more and register today!