NAMIBIAN eye specialist Dr Helena Ndume was crowned winner at the New African awards 2017 held at Dakar, Senegal, last Wednesday.
Ndume is renowned for her voluntary work giving free eye treatments which have impacted more than 30 000 people over the years. The New African awards, now in their second year, recognise, celebrate and honour African women who have had exceptional impact and influenced change in their countries or communities over the past 12 months.
A press release issued by the awards committee announced that Ndume, a pioneering ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon, had won the award for women in health, science and technology, at a glitzy gala dinner in Dakar.
Ndume was quoted by Reuters saying after being crowned winner: "I hope our successes will encourage many girls and young women to aspire to work in vital sectors like science, health, engineering and technology."
A total of 12 women from Mali, Morocco and Zimbabwe among other countries, were honoured at the ceremony hosted by the New African Woman magazine.
Fatoumata Tambajang, Gambia's new vice president and the architect of an opposition coalition that helped president Adama Barrow defeat long- time ruler Yahya Jammeh in the December presidential election, won the woman of the year award.
Ndume recently also received the first United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela prize - named after the late South African president and liberation icon - which honours one man and one woman who have dedicated their lives to serving others.
Ndume's motivation to serve those less fortunate than her stems from her past as a liberation era refugee. Forced to flee her homeland at the age of 15, she lived in Zambia, the 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.
She has dedicated her life and career to treating blindness and low-vision, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world. Many of her former patients refer to her as 'the miracle doctor'. In 2004 the Namibian government honoured her with a Grand Commander of the Order of Namibia, First Class award.