arizza_nocum_inside.jpgArizza Nocum may be just 16 years old, but she has already been recognized as a very special and forward-thinking young woman by Zonta International, an organization that seeks to improve women's lives the world over through service and advocacy.

Arizza has dedicated much of her time and effort in establishing the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris). The Kris Library's goal is to erase poverty by way of education. Arizza is the Kris Library's administrator, and she in involved in building libraries and distributing books throughout areas known for harboring rebel groups in Mindanao.

The Kris Library was started by Arizza's parents in 2001, and Arizza became involved in it when she was just seven years old. Even this young, however, she was already giving speeches and distributing books in public schools in Mindanao.

To date, the Kris Library has built libraries in Quezon City, Montalban, Rizal, and Zamboanga City, and it is about to put up two libraries in Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur. Apart from these, the Kris Library has also awarded scholarships to more than 100 children and continues to distribute books, school supplies, and computers to poor communities and schools all over the Philippines.

Because of her tireless dedication to her cause, Arizza was chosen by Zonta International as one of the recipients of this year's Young Women in Public Affairs Award (YWPA).

She had this to say about the recognition: "I dedicate this award to our Christian and Muslim scholars and library users whose determination to pursue their dreams amid war, hunger, and extreme poverty inspires me to work harder to improve myself and to pursue our advocacy work amid my busy school schedules."

(Photos courtesy of Armand Nocum)
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