Wofford Award Winner Spreads Message of Peace Corps Impact
By Kelly Reid on Thursday, July 18th, 2013
“Action packed” would be one way to describe Dr. Mohamud Sheikh Nurein Said’s most recent journey to the United States. The 2013 recipient of the National Peace Corps Association’s Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award, Dr. Said was invited to Peace Corps Connect – Boston, June 28-29 in Boston, Massachusetts to accept the prestigious honor. While the event itself only lasted two—albeit eventful—days, Dr. Said participated in a variety of exciting interviews, meetings, tours and receptions in the days leading up to and following the NPCA conference in Boston. At each stop, he shared the story of how his Peace Corps teachers set him on a path to a career in medicine and a lifelong passion for helping others.
On the Hill
Before Peace Corps Connect, various dinners, Capitol Hill meetings, and interviews in Washington, D.C. were the order of the day. (Read our blog post: “Said on the Hill.”) After meeting with various congressional representatives, including Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) Sam Farr, John Garamendi (who penned this op-ed about his encounter with Dr. Said) and Joe Kennedy III, Dr. Said was off to Boston for Peace Corps Connect and to accept his award.
On to Boston
Straight off the plane, Dr. Said and other distinguished guests — including Director/Americas Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya Ambassador S. M. Gitonga; and Senator Harris Wofford — went to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum for a luncheon in Dr. Said’s honor. While there, they received a tour of the museum and viewed artifacts from the Kennedy presidency. (Sen. Wofford effortlessly deciphered a handwritten memo by the president!)
The second annual gathering of the Peace Corps community, featuring two jam-packed days of networking, panels, workshops and social events, was attended by several hundred Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends of the Peace Corps from across the nation. (Read: “The Recap: Peace Corps Connect – Boston 2013“) While mingling with RPCVs and participating in panels and other activities at the conference, Dr. Said also managed to find time to make courtesy calls at institutions tied to his interests and to the spirit of the Award.
At Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Dr. Said met with the Chief of the Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Thomas Burke. Peter Johnson, director of the MGH History Museum, provided a fascinating tour through three centuries of medical history.
As the former president of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), Dr. Said was interested to meet with the staff of the Community Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge, Mass., an IRCT member. (Read “Mohamud Said Visits Cambridge Nonprofit - Cambridge Chronicle – July 2013). He is an advocate for reconstructive surgery for victims of torture, and so he also paid a visit to the newly opened, state of the art Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. And finally, as current Governor (President) of the Kenya Red Cross, he visited the Red Cross of Eastern Mass. (Read “Governor of Kenya Red Cross Visits with Eastern Mass“ – American Red Cross News – July 2, 2013.)
On Saturday evening Peace Corps Connect participants gathered for the awards ceremony where several individuals, including Dr. Said, receive their NPCA awards. Following a statement from Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya Amina Mohamed, read by Amb. Gitonga, and words from Sen. Wofford, Dr. Said in his acceptance speech thanked the people of Kenya, the Peace Corps, and various other individuals who have supported him in his quest to help others. Dr. Said began by stating, “I stand before you and the world humbled by this recognition and uplifted by the honor of being chosen the 2013 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award recipient.”
After going on to relate his Peace Corps connection, work in human rights and medicine — and what steps may need to be taken in the future to ensure the posterity of both — Dr. Said addressed the room full of men and women who had devoted some portion of their lives to serving others. “Ladies and gentlemen,” said Dr. Said, “you should all be proud to learn that our collective work is worth the energy and sacrifice each one of us contributes to the protection of human rights everywhere on our planet.”
… And Back to D.C.
Upon Dr. Said’s return to Washington, D.C., he met with the American Red Cross (ARC) Senior Director of International Response and Programs, Guillermo Garcia, who briefed Dr. Said on the work the ARC is currently doing in Kenya while giving him a tour of the ARC building in Washington. As Governor of the Kenyan Red Cross, the causes and efforts of the American Red Cross hit close to home for Dr. Said.
The morning after the ARC tour, Dr. Said and his Peace Corps teacher, Russell Morgan, headed over to BBC Washington Bureau for a remote interview between Dr. Said and Marco Werman, producer of the Public Radio International program “The World.” Werman, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Togo, participated in a lively panel discussion at Peace Corps Connect – Boston about bringing your Peace Corps experience into your career.
(Funny story: Before his panel at Peace Corps Connect, Werman quietly slipped into the RPCV Writers and Filmmakers Panel. After he asked a question, the moderator commented, “You have a voice that sounds like it should be on radio…”) You can listen to Werman’s interview with Dr. Said, here.
The PRI interview was followed by interviews with the Voice of America Swahili Service and Somali Service, as well as an interview with Trevor Ballantyne of AllAfrica.com. To top off the day, Dr. Said, members of the NPCA staff were all invited to a lovely reception in honor of Dr. Said at the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya.
After taking a few days to visit with friends and family in the DC area, Dr. Said capped his visit to the United States at the Peace Corps Headquarters (just across the street from the NPCA building) to meet with the current Peace Corps Director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet.
In a whirlwind of meetings, interviews, casual conversations, dinners and and receptions, Dr. Said’s trip to the United States was a huge success! A man truly devoted to service and helping others, Dr. Said’s steadfast commitment to human health and rights is leaving a lasting affect not only in Kenya, but in nations across the globe. Tying his belief in service back to early experiences with Peace Corps volunteers in Kenya, Dr. Said was an obvious—and well-deserved—choice for the 2013 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.
View photos of Dr. Said’s visit to the U.S. to accept the Harris Wofford Global Citizen award here.
Nominations are open for the 2014 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. Please download the nomination instructions and the nomination form and submit all nomination materials firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, October 31, 2013.