A former Somali refugee, 63-year-old Hawa Aden Mohamed, has won the Nansen Refugee Award for rescuing Somalia's most vulnerable members of society. Most are women and young girls --- victims of rape, genital mutilation, war, and genocide.
The Nansen Refugee Award, previously known as the Nansen Medal, is given annually by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees. Individuals or groups are awarded.
There is even a game, Against All Odds, where the player can realistically become a refugee in another world of choice --- war and conflict; borderland; or a new life.
Hawa Aden Mohamed, widely known as "Mama" Hawa, returned to war-torn Somalia in 1995 from her safety in Canada and as a refugee in Kenya. At this point she launched an extraordinary educational program for Somalis who had fled the war --- victims of famine and violence.
As founder and director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, Mama Hawa developed life skills training and provided secondary education for thousands of displaced men and women. For women, education was of the highest priority.
The goal is for each person - male and female - to become financially independent, choosing their own future in order to become active in Somali society.
"When Hawa Aden Mohamed rescues a displaced girl, a life is turned around," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement to Reuters.
Mama Hawa's life was changed when her father allowed her to go to school. Born in 1948, his decision changed her life along with thousands of Somali girls who she would help, as she would go and receive two university degrees.
"Without education, you do not exist much – physically yes, but mentally and emotionally, you do not exist," the Nansen Refugee Award winner recently told UNHCR in Galkayo.