Family aid worker receives $1M prize

Nov. 5, 2009 at 2:32 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Aicha Ech Channa says the $1 million Opus Prize awarded her will boost her efforts to help single mothers and their children in Morocco.

The award from the Opus Prize Foundation is about twice the annual budget for the Association Solidarita Faminine, the humanitarian organization Channa founded 24 years ago, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Thursday. It means the 68-year-old will be much closer to her goal of making the organization self-sufficient.

The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul chose this year's Opus Prize winner on behalf of the foundation, which labels the award "the world's largest faith-based, humanitarian award for social innovation."

Channa said her organization offers support to single mothers in Morocco and helps their children obtain identification papers they failed to receive after being born out of wedlock.

"Often, these children feel that they have no identity," Channa said.

The Pioneer Press said in addition to Channa, the Opus Prize Foundation awarded $100,000 to Sister Valeriana Garcia-Martin, who helps children with physical and mental disabilities in Colombia, and the Rev. Hans Stapel, who helps people overcome problems with drug and alcohol addiction.

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