The President of the United Nations General Assembly has announced that the first-ever United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize will be awarded to Dr. Helena Ndume, of Namibia, and Jorge Fernando Branco Sampaio, of Portugal.
Dr Ndume works for IAPB member SEE International, as one of their star eye surgeons, in Namibia. To date, Dr. Ndume has performed sight-restoring surgeries upon 30,000 people, completely free of charge, in Namibia. Dr. Ndume’s motivation to serve those less fortunate than her stems from the civil unrest that she witnessed as a child. Forced to flee her homeland at age 15, Ndume lived in Zambia, Gambia, and Angola before graduating from the University of Leipzig Medical School in Germany. She joined SEE International in 1995.
Dr. Ndume has dedicated her life and career to treating blindness and low-vision, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world. Many of her patients in the capital city of Windhoek have taken to calling her “Namibia’s miracle doctor.” In 2004, she was awarded Grand Commander of the Order of Namibia, First Class.
“She is inexhaustible,” said Dr. Michael Colvard of SEE. “She is an incredible physician, very capable but also able to motivate people and she’s been able to get the government of Namibia to support her and her colleagues.”
“The prize recognizes the achievements of those who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity by promoting UN purposes and principles while honouring Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition and social transformation,” said Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th session of the General Assembly, which established the prize on June 2014.