Vanuatu woman activist, Anne Pakoa, of Tongoa, has been recognized and honored with the US State Department’s designation of the Women of Courage Award winner in Vanuatu for this year.
The award was presented to Ms Pakoa by the United States Ambassador to Vanuatu, based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Walter North, at a ceremony on the grounds of the National Museum in Port Vila Tuesday. The occasion also coincided with the visit to Vanuatu of the Head of the United States Peace Corps for the World, Carrie Hessler-Radelet.
Ambassador North said every year the United States makes awards to women around the world for making a difference in their society because he said “the United States believes in honoring those women, who are out in their communities making a difference.”
He said there are many issues young democratic countries like Vanuatu face, governance issues, and so on.
Ambassador North described Anne Pakoa as “a leader, who exhibits courage and faces challenges in every area of her contribution to her society”.
“She was instrumental in the establishment of the Niel Thomas aid post with 6 cotton balls, which has developed to a full hospital today,” he added. He said the award was to recognize Anne Pakoa’s commitment and dedication to helping people in her society.
“Message each of us can do more to help people and make a difference in their lives even starting with six cotton balls.”
Carrie Hesler-Radelet said Pakoa truly displaced her courage when she mobilized her community in her home island of Tongoa after cyclone Pam to get start getting community life back from the disaster. She said to never under estimate the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of people.
“Next I think about the story of one, I will think of you Anne Pakoa. Your time and commitment to helping people and your courage has been recognized by the State Department. And I hope in time your story can inspire other women and girls.”
Anne Pakoa was very humble about the recognition and said felt she did not deserve the honor because there were a lot of other women out there who have also helped a lot of people. She thanks her nominee Transparency International and other women groups for their support for the award and honor she has been bestowed with.