She once took a bullet in her hip while on a humanitarian mission in Iraq in 2003.
Since then, Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, the Founder of Mercy Malaysia has certainly come a long way. Recently, the local humanitarian was honoured with the 2019 ASEAN Prize for her tireless efforts in supporting affected communities during natural disasters or conflicts in the ASEAN region.
Dr Jemilah is officially the first-ever Malaysian to have received this recognition, after the inception of the awards in Singapore last year.
Speaking to Malaysian journalists after the ceremony, Dr Jemilah expressed her gratitude over the accolade – “I am very grateful for this recognition. I feel this award can inspire more people in Malaysia and ASEAN to enter the humanitarian field.”
Apart from a trophy, Dr Jemilah received a cash prize of US$20,000 from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha and ASEAN secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi. The ceremony was also witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.
However, Dr Jemilah has pledged to donate the sum to the Surin Pitsuwan Foundation and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society. (A noble gesture, indeed!)
Dr Jemilah is a specialist in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. She founded MERCY Malaysia in 1999 as there was no organisation that could sponsor her trip to Kosovo to offer medical services during the Kosovo War. Today, volunteers from the organisation have gone on to volunteer in countries like Turkey, Maluku, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.
As for Dr Jemilah herself, she has served as the leader of the humanitarian branch of the United Nations Population Fund in New York City. During her tenure, she focused her efforts in raising awareness on reproductive health, gender-based violence and generating emergency population data.
She spends her time currently serving as the under secretary-general for partnerships at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Congratulations, Dr Jemilah!
*Featured image sourced from BusinessNewsAsia