In the evening hours of Friday, November 4th 2022, Helen Keller International Sierra Leone received the Humanitarian Organization Award of the year 2022 for its immense contribution towards improving children’s health status.
Helen Keller, a not-for-profit global health organization, believes that everyone particularly children must be given the opportunity to live a healthy life and reach their true potential.
Children in Sierra Leone are facing some of the world’s worst health outcomes – a child mortality epidemic in which children’s risk of dying before their second birthday is 1 in every 10. Those who made it beyond their second birthdays have to overcome endless battles with malnutrition.
Contributing towards the improvement of children’s health status is one of the many things Helen Keller is known for nationwide.
Umu Hawa Jalloh, Nutrition Program Coordinator, who received the award on behalf of Helen Keller made a passionate call for a concerted effort in addressing issues affecting the growth and development of children.
“I encourage all of us to reflect critically on the problem of maternal and under 5 deaths, malnutrition and adolescent reproductive rights – its causes and consequences, its effects and possible solutions today, and every day, to save our mothers, and our children in 2022 and beyond,” she remarked.
Helen Keller’s presence in Sierra Leone stretches back two decades – providing financial and technical support to the Neglected Tropical Disease Program, Nutrition and Reproductive and Child Health Divisions within the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Extension Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. The support is provided with the aim to strengthen local health systems and support pregnant women, newborns, mothers and children with highly nutritious diets and vitamin A supplementation – all are vital body-building nutrients to improve health and wellness.
Youth Empowerment and Development Association (YEDA) Sierra Leone, a Youth-Focused organization, that gave the award said in the citation: “This national meritorious award is presented to Helen Keller for their contribution towards improving the health status of children in Sierra Leone”.
“This award is the hard work of a lot of people – our staff, donors, Ministry – both health and agriculture, the healthcare workers who are at the frontline and make this possible and last but not the least the communities for letting us work for them. I am thankful to YEDA for giving us this honor and we hope to continue to work with and for Sierra Leone,” added Sugandh Juneja, Country Director for Helen Keller International in Sierra Leone.
The meritorious award was granted through public voting followed by a rigorous selection panel from the private sector, government, and academia. The ceremony, held at the Family Kingdom Resort was witnessed by international non-governmental organizations, the United Nations agencies, government, departments and agencies, local representatives, academic institutions grassroots activists, and the media.