On January 22, 2016, Noorjehan Majid was awarded the Klaus Hemmerle Prize in Aachen, Germany. She told the audience that included civil and religious leaders: “Our great dream is to be able to care for the million and a half people in our country who suffer with AIDS. Up until now that has happened for 300,000 of them, 70,000 of them children. Moreover, with the proper treatment it was possible for 60,000 infected mothers to give birth to healthy children.” Although there is still a long road ahead, these gratifying results that instill hope are due precisely to the efforts of people like Noorjehan and her team who run the Dream Programme of the Sant’Egidio Community.
Noorjehan Majid is a Muslim believer. As a woman of faith, her work is not limited to the medical field. Her goal is to bring Christians and Muslims together, to help change a mentality that still today stigmatises and marginalises people who are infected with the AIDS virus. Her “bridge-building” in all cultures and traditions, uniting people who are different from one another, in the name of their common humanity “is a powerful sign of what women can contribute to the African continent and to the human and ethical development of society,” said Focolare president, Maria Voce.
The Prize was instituted in 2004 and assigned every two years to people who have distinguished themselves as bridge-builders. Other recipients of the Prize include Jewish Dr Ernst-Ludwig Ehrlich (2004) and Patriarch Bartholomew I. This year the Prize was given to a Muslim woman, described by Annette Schiavan, German Ambassador to the Holy See, as “a Good Samaratian of our time.”
From an article by Klaus Hemmerle (1980):
We’re bridge beings,
stretching from the infinite to the dust.
It’s only in this tension that we are human beings.
But this tension will only keep
because of One
who is God and dust:
He sends us forth,
He lives in us.
He comes to us in every single person.
From: La Luce dentro le cose – meditazioni per ogni giorno, compiled by Erich Strick (Rome: Città Nuova, 1998) p 127.