Young Muslim donates $4,000 (P168,000) Zonta Award Prize to empower Muslim women and children PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 September 2011 10:53

(Here’s an inspirational update about Arizza Ann Sahi-Nocum, the young Zamboangueña and the first Filipina who won a prestigious Zonta International award, of what she did with the cash prize she received.)

The first Filipina Muslim to win the prestigious Zonta International Young Women for Public Affairs (YWPA) Award is donating part of her US $4,000 (about P168,000) prize money to help uplift through education the lives of poor Muslim women and children in Mindanao.

“Amid the celebration of the Eid’l Fitr, I lament and continue to be disturbed by the problems affecting the Muslim society in the Philippines, especially the sad plight of Muslim women and children. I am donating part of the US $4,000 prize from Zontal Foundation -- which was given to me for my educational advancement -- to the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (KRIS) to finance its literacy programs,”said Arizza Ann Sahi Nocum, winner of Zonta International’s most prestigious award.

An administrator of KRIS Peace Library, Nocum believes that her work with KRIS stood out among the 1,200 Zonta clubs across 64 countries which reviewed the thousands of teenagers nominated for the world annual YWPA search.

A 16-year-old freshman at University of the Philippine, Nocum was nominated by the Zonta Club in Quezon City under Ms Teresita Buencamino for Nocum’s involvement  in the Kris advocacy where she leads volunteers in the collection of books, write articles and letters to donors, manage the website; and facilitate book-readings and other programs for KRIS.

Put up by her Christian father and Muslim mother Armand Dean Nocum and Ann Sahi Nocum, respectively in 2001, Kris Libray has established five libraries all over the country. These are located in a suspected Abu Sayyaf jump-off point in Manicahan, Zamboanga City;  a slum area in Quezon City; a library for a resettlement area for Typhoon Ondoy victims in Rodriguez, Rizal; as well as set up the foundations of two proposed libraries near an MILF stronghold in Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur.

KRIS has also given 101 scholarship grants to poor but deserving kids in terror-stricken Mindanao, and has donated tens of thousands of books, school supplies, computers as well as provided free use of computers to public schools all over the country. One recent recipient was the kids who swim to school in a mangrove community in Layag Layag, Zamboanga City.

Although she thanked many donors here and abroad – including her parents who made donating to Kris a form of “tithing” – Nocum said she wished more people would help Kris so they can put up more libraries and donate books to poor areas in Mindanao.

A UP Oblation scholar taking up industrial engineering, Nocum said she would channel her donation to the bright but poor scholars of Kris.

“It feels different when you’re a scholar,” Nocum admits, “As a scholar, you have an obligation. For me, that obligation is to my country as an “iskolar ng bayan”. As for those poor children whose scholarship I can now provide for, I will visit them every so often and expect them to finish their studies such that they can someday fulfil meaningful roles in their communities.”

Nocum reports that Mindanao has the highest drop-out rate, maintains the lowest scores for national achievement tests; and is therefore severely in need in terms of education. With her plans, she dreams that her scholars will “transform into Mindanao’s change-makers” in the future.

Nocum received her certificates and check from District Governor Georgitta Pimentel-Puyat and Zonta International President Dianne K. Curtis at Zonta District 17’s International Conference held last August 27, 2011 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

“Her application struck me the most. Coming from Cotabato, I know for myself how much attention Mindanao needs right now. She is the first from District 17 ever to be an international recipient—and thus the first Filipina to win the YWPA Award. We are very proud of her,” exclaims Zonta District Governor Georgitta Puyat.

Nocum first won at the Zonta Award in the District Level, besting other finalists from District 17 which is comprised of the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. This awards her an initial grant of $1,000. Nocum also achieved the brilliant distinction of being one of only five international recipients from all over the world winning at the International Level. Each international recipient received US $3,000. Aside from the Philippines, the Top 5 in the world hail from USA, Ghana, India, and Switzerland.

“This award and my donation do not spell the end of my commitment to Zonta and to public affairs. It is only the beginning,” Nocum said.