A Roman Catholic activist who has helped provide education to thousands of African refugees displaced by ethnic bloodshed has been awarded a $1 million prize recognizing unsung humanitarians.
The Opus Prize, which honors someone who "combines a driving entrepreneurial spirit with an abiding faith to combat poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease and injustice," was given to Brother Constant Goetschalckx.
A member of the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity, a Belgium-based religious order, Goetschalckx runs Ahadi, an education program based in refugee camps in Tanzania. He founded Ahadi, which translates roughly to "promise" in Swahili, a decade ago when refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Rwanda, Congo and Burundi began flooding into Tanzania.
Goetschalckx "is a man who is absolutely and totally committed to the poor of the world," said the Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, president of Catholic University, which administered this year's Opus Prize.
The money for the award, now in its fourth year, comes from the Opus Group, a Minnesota real estate firm. The Opus Prize Foundation partners with a different Catholic university each year to administer the award.
Known as "Brother Stan," Goetschalckx recruited educated volunteers from the camps to start high school classes and arranged for distance-learning classes for those working toward college degrees.