Arizza Ann Sahi-Nocum, the 16-year-old administrator of the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris), became the first Filipina to win the prestigious YWPA international award along with four other awardees from the US, Switzerland, India and Ghana.
Each of the five winners will get US $3,000 from the Zonta International Foundation. The other winners are Emily Kalheim (USA), Mehitabel Markwei (Ghana), Anjali Chandrashekar (India) and Nasma Dasser (Switzerland).
The five finalist were chosen through a rigorous screening and review by 1,200 Zonta clubs across 64 countries. Zonta International is a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy.
Likewise, Nocum – a Christian-Muslim – will receive an additional US $1,000 for besting other finalists in the Zonta International District 17 which comprises of the Zonta clubs in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Arizza was nominated by the Zonta Club of Quezon City.
Chosen through her essay writings and advocacy work profile sent to Zonta International, Nocum earned the coveted award for her work in the non-profit organization Kris Peace Library which was put up by her Roman Catholic father Armand (a former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer), and her Muslim mother Annora. The Nocums have started the advocacy in 2001.
The organization aims to eradicate poverty and conflict through the education of the youth throughout the Philippines. It carries the belief that war is the product not only of religious extremism but also of poverty, lack of education, and hopelessness.
Thus far, KRIS has built and established five libraries in a slum area in Quezon City; in a resettlement area for victims of Typhoon Ondoy in Montalban, Rizal; in a suspected jump-off point of the Abu Sayyaf in Zamboanga City; and set the foundation for two more libraries in a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stronghold in Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur.
The Kris Library has awarded 101 scholarship grants to poor children in these areas; provides free computer use and basic computer lessons to poor kids; and donated thousands of books, school supplies; and computers to public schools and poor communities all over the country. (To know more about Kris Library, please go to www.krislibrary.com).
As administrator of the advocacy, Arizza catalogues the books at the libraries, writes news articles and letters to donors, facilitates activities with children, and interacts with volunteers, donors, and partners of the organization.
An honor graduate of the Philippine Science High School, Arizza is a freshman at the University of the Philippines where she is an Oblation Scholar. She is majoring in industrial engineering.
Zonta International President Dianne Curtis will hand Nocum the award at 2 p.m. on August 27 at the Zonta’s 16th District Conference at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay. Zonta’s YWPA award is given to young women aged 16-19 years old who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in public policy, government and volunteer organizations.