Obama gives away Nobel prize

2010-03-12 09:42

PRESIDENT Barack Obama plans to donate the US$1.4 million (R10.4?million) from his Nobel Peace Prize to helping students, veterans’ families and survivors of Haiti’s earthquake, among others, drawing attention to organizations he said “do extraordinary work”.

Obama is giving a total of US$750?000 (about R5.6?million) to six groups that help children go to college. Fisher House, which provides housing for families with loved ones at Veterans Administration hospitals, will receive US$250?000 (about R1.9?million), the White House said yesterday.

And the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, for which two former presidents are raising money to rebuild earthquake-ravaged Haiti, will receive US$200?000 (about R1,5?million).

“These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m proud to support their work.”

Obama was chosen for the Nobel award more for his aspirations and approach than his accomplishments thus far.

The Nobel committee honoured him for changing the tenor of international politics and for pursuing goals Obama says will require worldwide effort, such as nuclear disarmament and reversing global warming.

Obama himself was surprised by the award, and aides said at the time he would donate the cash prize to charity.

The Fisher House donation would help pay for three new homes at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Dover Air Force Base, where the bodies of Americans killed overseas are flown.

“It’s work that needs to be done for these men and women who have served this nation so gallantly,” Fisher House Foundation Chairman and CEO Kenneth Fisher said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“It’s a privilege to serve these men and women and these families because they give so much to this nation.”

The funds for Haiti would go to the rebuilding effort led by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

A January 12 earthquake wrecked Haiti and killed more than 200?000 people, and the United States is playing an active role in rebuilding the country.

In addition, Obama plans to give US$125?000 (about R925?000) apiece to groups that help students go to college: College Summit, a national nonprofit organisation that works with elementary and middle school students to boost college enrollment rates; the Posse Foundation, which gives full college scholarships to public school students who might be overlooked by traditional scholarship programmes; United Negro College Fund; the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation; and the American Indian College Fund.

Obama also is donating US$100?000 (about R740?000) to AfriCare, which funds HIV/AIDS programmes, public health programmes, water resource development and agriculture in 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

He will give US$100?000 (about R740?000) to the Central Asia Institute, which promotes education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Obama accepted his peace prize just days after announcing he was stepping up US involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

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