Winner of the 2016 Chancellor's Medal announced

Chancellor's MedalThe winner of the Chancellor’s Medal 2016 is Jiban Karki from the School of Health and Related Research.

The Chancellor’s Medal is being awarded to Jiban in recognition of the extraordinary work he undertook on humanitarian grounds before and after the earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, a Country with which the University has strong links. As Executive Director of PHASE Nepal (Practical Help Achieving Self-Empowerment), a non-governmental organisation he helped to establish in 2006, Jiban’s vision and leadership enabled PHASE Nepal to deliver a huge range of relief projects to those in need whilst continuing its core work on health, education and livelihoods support in the most remote parts of Nepal.

On Friday 24 April 2015 Jiban was preparing his thesis and hoping for a rapid submission. The following morning a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal with dire consequences. Almost 9,000 people lost their lives and over 22,000 were left injured and affected, physically, mentally and emotionally. Over 400,000 buildings collapsed and countless livestock, equipment and materials were lost or buried.

The University of Sheffield has many staff and students from Nepal. There is a thriving Nepalese Society and a field class for International Development Masters programmes that takes place annually. In fact, staff and students had just returned to Sheffield weeks before the earthquake.

By Monday morning after the earthquake a group of colleagues at the University of Sheffield, which included Jiban, gathered to discuss the devastating news. Given Jiban’s extensive knowledge of the Country, the work PHASE Nepal was doing prior to the earthquake, and fact that many of his family, friends and employees of PHASE were located in the worst affected regions, the group of colleagues turned to Jiban for direction and guidance. Despite his enormous personal loss, Jiban remained extremely professional and following his suggestion a joint plan of action was created under the banner of ‘University of Sheffield Friends of Nepal’ with the aim to raise £5000. Through the hugely generous support of colleagues, family, friends, and fellow citizens from Sheffield and elsewhere a staggering £14,642.26 was raised.

Jiban was instrumental in ensuring this reached and supported those most in need particularly remote rural villages which were at risk of being overlooked by larger organizations that were focusing on the capital city.

Jiban displayed selflessness, leadership and absolute dedication to the cause. He took leave of absence from his studies and spent several months in Nepal, leading and managing the delivery of aid through PHASE, whilst continuing to help raise funds, as we have heard achieving way beyond the hoped for target. He was able to mobilise people and resources locally to help the people most desperately in need in Nepal.

The money received through Friends of Nepal, PHASE Earthquake Appeal and large donors such as Caritas, Diakonie, People in Need and others, PHASE staff and volunteers were able to carry out immediate emergency activities reaching over 15,000 families. They provided shelter, food and health aid, as well as more long term recovery and reconstruction.

Jiban was also able to secure the use of ambulances and helicopters to evacuate people from villages to hospitals in Kathmandu. This was a tremendous feat for the organisation and an undeniably huge help for the victims of the earthquake, whose needs Jiban instinctively and without delay put ahead of his own academic work and personal tragedy.

Jiban continues to support those in need via his work at PHASE Nepal. Over the past 12 months, he has clearly shown attributes and skills which are strongly valued by the University: his unwavering commitment to help people and communities who are suffering and in need of assistance; his strong resolve to have a positive impact in the wider world through active global citizenship and his selflessness and outstanding achievement in leading his Non-Government Organisation during the most challenging times all which make him worthy to receive the Chancellor’s Medal 2016.

On behalf of the people of Nepal and The University of Sheffield community, we thank him for his humanitarian contributions during his doctoral studies at The University of Sheffield. Jiban is most definitely a worthy recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal 2016.