By Judith Gicobi
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an activist from Kenya made history after receiving an honor from President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed for his work in the field of mental health.
Iregi Mwenja was in disbelief as President Zayed awarded him the Waterfalls Global Award.
The recipient explained that he was nominated for this honor by a friend and coworker because of his work with COVID frontline staff during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.
He oversaw a group of psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health specialists that traveled all over Kenya to offer counseling and other mental health support to the medical staff working in the Covid-19 isolation hospitals and the prison quarantine units.
“I want to acknowledge that this award, even though bearing my name, was not a singular effort of a superhero.”
“It was a concerted effort of my colleagues at PDO and our local partner Arcadian Counselling Centre. In addition, these Covid intervention efforts would not have been possible without the generous donations from our partner Ember, the Altro Foundation, and the Segal Family Foundation,” Mwenja stated.
“As a neurodiverse global mental health champion, I am honoured to have been hosted by the UAE President at the Al Shiyite Palace to receive the Award,” he added while thanking the UAE President for the recognition.
Mwenja has founded the community-based mental health organization Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO Kenya) in Nakuru, Kenya.
The Waterfalls Global Award was established as a global endeavor to recognize and honor healthcare personnel and organizations that have endured hardships on the front lines while also enhancing the skills of medical professionals worldwide.
As per Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s directives, the UAE introduced the Award in November 2021.
It is regarded as one of the nation’s global contributions to honoring front-line workers worldwide in recognition of their crucial role, humanitarian services, and sacrifices made for the sake of protecting their communities and their safety, particularly during the pandemic.
Only 15 participants from this year’s edition won different categories’ awards, which had 300 nominees from all around the world. The 15 were from a shortlist of 78.