Maguindanaoan woman to receive “Voices of Courage” award

Noraida Adang Abdullah Karim, officer in charge of the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) operations in Minadnao, will receive the award on May 10 in New York. She has been chosen to give the keynote address at the luncheon.

The “Voices of Courage” awards are presented each year to people or organizations from around the world who/that have shown commitment and leadership to promote the well-being of displaced women, children, and youth.

The awards are a project of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. The WCRWC, according to its website, is “an expert resource and advocacy organization that monitors the care and protection of refugee women and children. It speaks out on issues of concern to refugee and displaced women, children and adolescents, who have a critical perspective in bringing about change but often do not have access to governments and policy makers. It also provides opportunities for refugee women and youth to speak for themselves through briefings, testimony, participation in field assessments and international conferences.”

Noraida was nominated by the CFSI, upon the recommendation of Sheila Platt, CFSI board member and wife of the former US Ambassador to Manila, Nicholas Platt, Noraida was born in Cotabato City in 1970 but spent most of her formative years in Datu Piang in Maguindanao, where she had to contend with poverty, displacement due to the armed conflict and survival.

Sheer determination made her finish high school in 1988. She fled to Manila where she assisted other displaced Moro meet their basic needs and advocate for peace negotiations in Mindanao.

Noraida returned to Mindanao after the signing of the 1996 peace agreement and worked with local civil society organizations concerned with human rights, the situation of displaced persons, and livelihood projects for poor women. Noraida also went back to school, completing a degree in social work at De La Vida College in Cotabato City in 1999 and later taught social work there.

She joined CFSI as a community organizer in March 2001, shortly after the 2000 “all out war” that displaced nearly a million villagers.

“She subsequently played a leading role in the Literacy, Livelihood, and Food Sufficiency Project for women and male youth that CFSI field-tested for the World Bank. Noraida then stepped up to lead the ‘Arms are for Hugging Project’ that has helped ensure over 600 formerly out-of-school children and youth have access to primary education in their own community in Inug-ug, Pagalungan, Maguindanao,” the CFSI press statement read.

Aside from serving as OIC for CSI operations in Mindanao, Noraida is also coordinator of the Food Assistance Project that CFSI is carrying out in conflict-affected

communities in Maguindanao in partnership with the World Food Programme (MindaNews)