Israeli humanitarian to receive Muhammad Ali award
Navonel Glick of IsraAid joins five other honorees from around the world at upcoming ceremony.
Muhammad Ali once said, "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." That dictum is at the heart of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, an annual ceremony that honors six individuals from around the world under the age of 30.
One of this year's recipients will be 29-year-old Navonel "Voni" Glick, who's been working with nonprofits for nearly a decade from Nepal to India. He's receiving the award on behalf of his work as COO of IsraAid, a humanitarian aid agency from Tel Aviv, Israel, which travels the globe helping with disaster relief.
"It's a dream come true to be in any way associated with the incredible Muhammad Ali, who accomplished so much and literally shook the world with the sheer force of his commitment and values," Glick said after finding out the news. "This award will hopefully continue to bring more attention to some of the many humanitarian crises going on around the world, and galvanize people to help."
In recent years, IsraAid has dispatched groups of volunteers to far reaches of the globe – from Vanuatu to Nepal, where the organization's aid workers created an unconventional method to deliver much-needed medicine. They helped in the U.S. after both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. Most recently, they dispatched a team to West Virginia to help residents rebuild homes after a devastating flood.
In addition to assisting in the cleanup and rebuilding, a strong focus for IsraAid is agriculture. Israeli innovations in drip irrigation and other water-saving efficiencies are brought to bear on the places they visit, where they often train farmers and help them set up new income streams after losses from a natural disaster.
“Disasters bring out the best and worst in people," Glick said. "You see the high of incredible selflessness and willingness to help and then the low of pain and desperation. It’s a constant emotional up and down, with no end to the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ questions you ask yourself.”
In addition to Glick, the other young do-gooders receiving the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award this year are:
- Josh Nesbit, 29, Waterford, Virginia – co-founder and CEO of Medic Mobile, a nonprofit organization that builds mobile and web tools for community health workers, clinic staff and families in the hardest-to-reach communities;
- Shawana Shah, 23, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan – founder of Da Hawwa Lur, a nonprofit aimed at ending gender-based violence, providing free legal and psychological support to victims of gender-based violence, enhancing women leadership and promoting peace;
- Curt Bowen, 29, Boise, Idaho – co-founder of Semilla Nueva, a non-profit that develops locally led farmer education programs that increase the income, rebuild the soils and improve the food security of Guatemala’s rural poor;
- Jakob Schillinger, 26, Tuebingen, Germany – co-founder of OneDollarGlasses, which brings affordable eyewear to more than 150 million people in need.
- Tina Hovsepian, 29, Los Angeles, California – founder and executive director of Cardborigami, a nonprofit that supports those who have lost their homes due to poverty, natural disasters or other crises.
While Ali rose to fame through his unparalleled boxing prowess, he later became known for his humanitarian work as well as for his efforts to find a cure for Parkinson's. In 1999, he was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated, and Time magazine named him one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards will be handed out on Sept. 17 in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and will be hosted by NBC News anchor Craig Melvin. The award ceremony is especially poignant this year as it's the first time the annual event is taking place since Ali's passing on June 3, 2016.
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