PMB humanitarian receives global awards

2016-12-07 06:02
PHOTO: supplied Saira Khan, from the organisation Stop Hunger Now SA, received the Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award 2016 and the United States Congressional Commendation Award from the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development in Dubai last week.

PHOTO: supplied Saira Khan, from the organisation Stop Hunger Now SA, received the Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award 2016 and the United States Congressional Commendation Award from the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development in Dubai last week.

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“INDESCRIBABLE”. This is how multi-global award winner Saira Khan, from Stop Hunger Now, described how she felt after receiving the Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award 2016 and the United States Congressional Commendation Award from the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development in Dubai last week.

Khan became the first woman in South Africa to be honoured with these prestigious awards and will be included in the Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame.

“Initially it was almost disbelief that this was actually happening, and it happened so quickly. I am grateful and honoured to be recognised this way globally,” she said.

Khan, who has been in the charity sector for the past 15 years, started with Afrika Tikkun, then moved to U.S.-based Survivor Corps where she worked in five regions in Africa before moving to the international Humana and then joined Stop Hunger Now SA in 2015.

“I think I re-evaluated my life when my eldest son was involved in a serious car accident in 2002 leaving him brain injured. It made me ask difficult questions about how other children coped if their parents didn’t have access to what we did or if they didn’t have any parents, and as many South African children are orphaned.

“This inspired me to get into the NGO sector, but it was difficult because everyone felt I was overqualified. I thank the late Bertie Lubner for taking me on and I have not looked back,”

Khan shares a deep connection with Pietermaritzburg having being born in the city. She lived in Berg Street and attended Girls’ High School. She completed her nurses training at Northdale Hospital and has extended family that live in the city.

She said these awards came at a poignant time in her life when she was considering leaving work to stay at home to enjoy leisure time.

“It has now motivated me to do more and keep going for as long as I can. It’s also special because often charity work is thankless and makes you despondent so to be acknowledged in this way is a truly humbling experience.”

Khan said that, even faced with adversity, she tries to maintain a positive outlook on life.

“One of the things that life has taught me is that if you cannot find purpose, then pursue your passion because your passion will then determine your purpose, and I believe I have done that.

“I also think holding down a position as CEO of an organisation, being a wife, mother and grandmother all at the same time is inspiring, and I hope it makes other women realise that it can be done, and done successfully, providing you have a good balance. My dad always taught me that ‘there is a time for everything’ and I live by that.”

She said she is humbled and blessed to be recognised for her work and to be representing the country as the first South African honoree.

“I hope it gives us [Stop Hunger Now] more support and encourages more donors and volunteers to come on board. I also know that it means we are doing something right and that this is being acknowledged. It means a lot to both me and the organisation,” said Khan.

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