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Meet Namibian Doctor, First-ever UN Nelson Mandela Prize Recipient

Dr. Helena Ndume, a star eye surgeon and SEE volunteer, was awarded the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize on July 24, 2015 at the United Nations. This is the first time the award will be given in the international body’s history. According to the UN website:

The Prize shall be awarded in recognition of their dedicated service to humanity, in the promotion of reconciliation and social cohesion, and in community development, guided by the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

To date, Dr. Ndume has performed sight-restoring surgeries upon 30,000 men, women, and children, completely free of charge, in her home country of Namibia. “There’s no money in this world that can pay the joy of someone who was so blind for so many years and then suddenly they regain their vision,” she says.

Dr. Ndume’s motivation to serve those less fortunate than her stems from the civil unrest that she witnessed as a child. Forced to flee her homeland at the age of 15, Helena lived in Zambia, Gambia, and Angola, before graduating from the University of Leipzig Medical School in Germany. She joined SEE International’s roster of over 650 volunteer eye surgeons in 1995.

Dr. Ndume has dedicated her life and career to treating blindness and low-vision, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world. Many of her patients in the capital city of Windhoek call her “the miracle doctor.” In 2004, the Namibian government honored her as a Grand Commander of the Order of Namibia, First Class.

“She is inexhaustible,” says Dr. Michael Colvard of SEE.

“We are very honored to have Dr. Ndume as a part of the international SEE team. Everyone at SEE is thrilled that the United Nations is recognizing her dedicated humanitarian efforts as a Mandela Prize winner,” says Randal Avolio, President/CEO of SEE. “We offer our deepest congratulations to Helena on this impressive accomplishment.”

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