Opus Prize recipients may not be household names, but don't be fooled by their relative anonymity. The Opus Prize winner and finalists are beating daunting odds to bring about lasting social change in their communities and countries.
In these recipients, an unshakeable faith and a belief in entrepreneurship mingle and the results are stunning. Their efforts to help the poor and underserved transform their lives makes the case that real, upward change is possible and inspires others to get involved.
2013 Opus Prize Recipients
$1 Million Opus Prize Winner
Sakena Yacoobi is a 62-year old practicing Muslim who brings the principles of her faith to bear on every aspect of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an NGO whose mission is the empowerment of Afghan women primarily through education. Founded in 1995, AIL operates from the belief that improved education and health for women in Afghanistan is the most effective response to terrorism and violence. Ten million Afghans – 70 percent of them females – have benefitted from AIL programs.
In 2012, 960,149 Afghans received education, health services and teacher training from AIL; nearly 80,000 (56,000 women) received health services; 65,637 Afghan women received health education; 614 teachers were trained; and 33 grassroots community-based schools and centers were supported. AIL employs more than 480 Afghans, 70 percent of whom are women. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban closed girls' schools in the 1990s.
$75,000 Opus Prize Finalists
Fahmina is a major center for progressive Islamic research, teaching and outreach in Indonesia born from Indonesia's long and fascinating tradition of village-based religious schools (pesantrens) and educates the next generation of Indonesians in the values of tolerance, gender equality and public questioning.
Fahmina is organized into four major branches: (1) a degree granting university for the study of progressive Islam that requires students to spend a full semester working within poor communities in order to articulate why their chosen field of study will benefit the poor; (2) an NGO which carries out social activism in democracy, education, community development, and discrimination; (3) a high school which serves more than 450 students and also combines coursework with structured engagements with poor communities; and (4) a small business, publishing and contracting unit. The organization has become a leading light in what is sometimes described as Islamic "liberation theology."
Sr. Carol Keehan
Catholic Health Association (CHA) is comprised of more than 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care and other health facilities in all 50 states, dedicated to Jesus' mission of love and healing in the world today. Sister (Sr). Carol Keehan, as president and CEO of CHA, is a passionate advocate who possesses both the management skills and single-minded understanding that Catholic health care exists not for the purpose of building healthcare empires, but to meet the gospel’s social justice message of caring for those most in need.
Sr. Carol, who has served the Church as a Daughter of Charity since 1965, has been extremely active both in enacting healthcare legislation that is sensitive to the needs of poor people, and working to improve access to affordable care that preserves the life and dignity of every human being in this country.
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