2017 CRISIS AWARD HONOREE
Arwa Damon is an award-winning senior international correspondent for CNN’s Istanbul bureau. She began her career at CNN in Baghdad, where she covered the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein, the country’s first national elections, and more. But it was a much smaller story that sparked an international movement: that of a 4-year-old boy named Youssif.
Youssif was outside of his house when masked men grabbed him, doused him in gasoline and set him on fire. He was left horribly disfigured, barely able to smile or eat. His father tried to find treatment from various aid organizations, but to no avail; they were told that they needed to go to the United States, a trip that was too expensive for the family to afford.
Youssif’s plight eventually reached Arwa, who helped report the story with her CNN team. The story captured the hearts of millions of readers, leading to an extraordinary outpouring of generosity and a partnership with The Children’s Burn Foundation in Los Angeles. Thanks to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, Youssif received the treatment he needed to smile, eat, and lead a normal life. Today, he is studying to become a doctor. After this experience, Arwa founded INARA to provide access to life-altering and life-saving medical assistance to children impacted by war. The organization currently focuses on children from Syria.
Arwa received the 2017 World of Children Crisis Award for her courageous dedication to vulnerable children in war-torn areas.