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Prestigious Faith-Based Humanitarian Honor Awarded at Georgetown

Sakena Yacoobi

Sakena Yacoobi, founder and president of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), is the winner of the 2013 Opus Prize, which was awarded at Georgetown on Nov. 13.

November 14, 2013 – Finalists for one of the most prestigious faith-based humanitarian honors, the Opus Prize, received their awards at Georgetown after participating in a series of campus events and classes Nov. 12-13. 

Sakena Yacoobi, founder and president of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), won the 2013 Opus Prize for operating the largest Afghan nongovernmental organization.  AIL runs 52 centers in Afghanistan that provide literacy programs, higher education, arts and culture, healthcare and income generating activities.

Inspiring Commitment

“Dr. Sakena Yacoobi has demonstrated an inspiring commitment to the promotion of education and health services for women and children in Afghanistan,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said during the Nov. 13 award presentation. “She is an eminently deserving recipient of this faith-based humanitarian award – for her disproportionate contributions to the betterment of our global family.”

Yacoobi received $1 million with the honor, and the remaining two finalists each received a $75,000 prize.

Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) in Washington, D.C., and the Fahmina Institute, a nonprofit based in Cirebon, Indonesia, were among this year’s finalists.

Keehan has devoted her time toward advocating for affordable healthcare for the poor.

The Fahmina Institute helps religious scholars and their communities understand and engage issues of religious pluralism, gender, democracy, human rights and other social issues.

Encouraging Service

Each year, the Opus Prize Foundation partners with a Catholic university to encourage students to live lives of service.

Students had access to the finalists during an interfaith service in Dahlgren Chapel Nov. 12.

All three finalists also attended classes while on campus – including Politics, Religion and Culture taught by Dean Carol Lancaster and visiting professor Katherine Marshall at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Violence, Gender and Human Rights taught by women’s and gender studies professor You-me Park.

Keehan also participated in the Global Health Ethics, taught by nursing professor Irene Jillson.

“In our world, with its conflicts, poverty, inequality and natural disasters, the Opus Prize lifts up leaders determined to make a difference,” Thomas Banchoff, vice president for global engagement, said during the ceremony. “[These] leaders [are] working in communities to address human suffering and advance human dignity, across religious and cultural lines.”

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