The Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award
The National Peace Corps Association’s Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award is named for the former U.S. Senator and special assistant to U.S. President John F. Kennedy who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps. (Learn more about Harris Wofford here.) It is given annually to an outstanding global leader who grew up and continues to live in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served and whose life was influenced by the Peace Corps.
This award is made possible by a generous lead gift from Atiku Abubakar, businessman, philanthropist and former Nigerian Vice President, for the Global Leaders Program. Abubakar was the first recipient of the Award, which waspresented at the Promise of the Peace Corps Gala in September 2011.
The 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award winner is Berhane Daba of Ethiopia (press release).
Press Release: Berhane Daba is 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award Winner
Washington, DC — April 16th, 2015 — The National Peace Corps Association is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award is Berhane Daba of Ethiopia. The 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.
Berhane Daba is president and founder of Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA), an organization that works to empower women with disabilities with the skills and confidence they need to become economically independent. Daba advocates for equal access for women and people of disability so that they can reach their full potential—and she understands these obstacles because she has conquered them herself.
Diagnosed with polio at the age of four, Daba faced not only an inability to walk, but also widespread estrangement from her community. She was placed in a wing of the Princess Teshai Hospital with orphaned and disabled children by the age of five.
The Peace Corps Connection
It was during this period that Daba would meet Peace Corps Volunteer and nurse Mary Myers-Bruckenstein. Seeing Daba as a unique and valuable person with potential, Myers-Bruckenstein decided to take her into her home. Moving forward, Daba entered an environment where she had an opportunity to heal and to attend school.
Daba viewed gaining an education as her greatest opportunity to live an independent lifestyle. She refused to accept limits placed on her by society, and it is through this process of bettering herself and overcoming prejudice that she found her calling—to assist others and to champion equal access and opportunity for people with disability.
Since founding the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association in 1995, Daba has worked to expand the organization’s member base from its original eight members to over 2,100 today. Beyond providing technical and vocational training, EWDNA offers counseling and guidance services to further empower members to confidently enter the workforce.
EWDNA uses a sustainable business model to fund its programming, operating a bakery where members can work, and thus promoting the organization’s goal of socio-economic empowerment for disabled women.
Daba has become an international leader on behalf of her cause, and has travelled to Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa for meetings and conferences. This summer she plans to attend leadership training in Italy sponsored by the International Labour Organization.
“My future plan is to continue struaggling for [the] disability moment and support the forgotten disabled people,” states Daba on moving forward. “And if God helps me, I will do something for my birthplace.”
The selection committee noted that “Berhane Daba’s story is emblematic of the direct and life-changing impact that Peace Corps Volunteers can have in communities where they serve—and how that impact can ripple outward. Berhane is a catalyst for changing attitudes about how people with disabilities are viewed, not only in her native Ethiopia, but around the world.”
The NPCA will present Berhane Daba with the 2015 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award on Saturday, June 6 at Peace Corps Connect – Berkeley.
About the award:
First awarded in 2011 on the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and annually awarded starting in 2013, the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award recognizes an outstanding global leader who grew up and continues to live in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served and whose life and career were influenced by the Peace Corps. The leader should be a person whose life’s work has made a significant contribution to the world in a way that reflects the core Peace Corps values of service, peace, development, human rights, health, and understanding. Named in honor of the former U.S. Senator and special assistant to U.S. President John F. Kennedy who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps, the award was endowed in 2012 through a generous gift from Atiku Abubakar, a leading businessman, philanthropist, and former Vice President of Nigeria. Nominations are accepted throughout the year. More information:http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/about/awards/
About the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)
Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is a nonprofit organization at the center of a vibrant and united community of 215,000 individuals who share the Peace Corps experience. The NPCA champions a lifelong commitment to Peace Corps ideals by connecting, engaging and promoting its members and member groups as they continue to make a difference in communities in the U.S. and around the world. NPCA is also dedicated to advocating for, contributing to, and supporting the betterment of the Peace Corps. To learn more, visit http://www.PeaceCorpsConnect.org.
Director of Communications