SurviviorCorps: Thank You and Goodbye


Let us start by saying ‘THANK YOU.’ For thirteen years, your support has enabled Survivor Corps to bring positive change to a hurting population. We’ve not only improved the lives of individual survivors on the ground, but we’ve also changed laws and practices worldwide that will govern the lives of war survivors for years to come.

This year, for a number of reasons, our Board of Directors decided the best way to preserve our legacy and increase impact was to close Survivor Corps as an international nonprofit and transfer all our programs, knowledge and resources to our local partners. This decentralized approach will prepare the next generation of survivor leaders to build on what Survivor Corps started many years ago.

Looking back over our work, we’ve compiled a few facts to boast of our accomplishments:

  • We’ve helped over 12,000 survivors in 12 countries recover from their injuries and trauma, get jobs and give back to their communities.
  • We’ve conducted over 135,000 survivor home and hospital visits, pioneering a peer support methodology with measurable results.
  • We’ve negotiated three world-changing treaties for people with disabilities and the weapons used to kill and injure them.
  • We’ve trained survivor advocates and leaders to carry on this work in over 40 war-affected countries.

Returning Troops

We helped many returning troops and service members that have served in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.We helped in successful reintegration of returning service members. Survivor Corps and its partners were determined to avoid the mistakes made when veterans returned from Vietnam, which resulted in tens of thousands of post-war suicides and over 200,000 men and women living on the streets.

Be assured that our signature peer support program for survivor recovery will continue and grow through the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University, under the direction of Survivor Corps co-founder Ken Rutherford. In the United States, our partners at the Statewide Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment in Massachusetts will serve as a model for how veteran-to-veteran peer support is critical to a healthy reintegration strategy for service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We were among the first to bring the ‘survivor voice’ to the negotiating table and to establish programs for survivors by survivors. It is important to all of us at Survivor Corps for this legacy to continue. The legacy of Survivor Corps will live on through multiple organizations, in Bosnia and Herzegovina through Landmine Survivors Initiatives, in El Salvador with our partner Fundacion Red de Sobreviventes y Personas con Discapacidad, in Vietnam with the Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, and our UK-based partner Action on Armed Violence. All of these local non-govermental organizations will take up this important work, ensuring survivor participation in existing negotiations of treaties and in the new arena of armed violence reduction. The survivor voice will also thrive through the 700 survivor-advocates we have trained worldwide to advocate for their rights. Our talented alumni are now housed in many organizations where survivor advocacy will continue to evolve. All of these groups will advance our mission by continue helping more and more survivors to build a better future.

We hope you’re as proud as we are, when looking at all we’ve accomplished together.

Jerry white

Please send all inquires to
Survivor Corps
2100 M St NW STE 170-342
Washington, DC 20037-1233

Niarchos Prize for Survivorship


The Stavros S. Niarchos Prize for Survivorship

The Niarchos Prize honors individuals and organizations that promote survivorship and resilience through outstanding contributions to peace, reconciliation and recovery in conflict-affected societies. Awardees come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.

2005 Honorees

  • Prasanna Rajiv Kuruppu, Sri Lanka – Ms. Kuruppu is a war-injured survivor who led efforts to establish rights and social services for war casualties and Sri Lankans with disabilities.
  • Centro Integral de Rehabilitacion de Colombia – Since 1992 this organization has provided support to victims of war-related violence and provided thousands of artificial limbs and orthotics to amputee conflict survivors.

2006 Honorees

  • Omara Khan, Afghanistan – Mr. Khan is a landmine survivor and co-founder of the Afghan Disabled Union, the only organization dedicated to helping Afghans with disabilities achieve full rights under the law.
  • Female Mine Action Team, Cambodia – This group is the only female de-mining team in Cambodia. The team painstakingly disarms landmines and removes explosive remnants of war from the ground to make land safe for farming and habitation.

2008 Honorees

  • Dr. Tariq Al-Azzawi Hasoon, Iraq – Dr. Hasson is a courageous doctor for International Medical Corps who has put his life- and the life of his family- on the line to care for his countrymen in the middle of a war zone from where nearly half of Iraqi doctors and nurses have fled.
  • Dr. Abreshmeen Lailuma Anvar, Afghanistan – Dr. Lailuma is a passionate physician who has devoted her life to the delivery of high-quality healthcare services to poor and marginalized girls and women in one of the most volatile areas of Afghanistan.
  • Military Child Education Coalition, United States – The Coalition innovative program – Living in the New Normal-offers families and educators tools to help children to weather life’s storms during times of conflict and trauma.

2009 Honorees

  • Dr. Izzeldin Abu al-Aish, Palestine – Dr. Abu al-Aish is a doctor and peace activist who has studied the effects of war on Gazan and Israeli children. He consistently speaks out to expose the human loss suffered by both sides, even after a tank fired at his home in January, killing three of his daughters, his niece, and injuring four other family members.
  • Nomika Zion, Israel – Ms. Zion is a prominent voice for moderation and peace between Israel and Palestine. She lives in Sderot, an Israeli border town where she works from a concrete safe room to provide protection from the incoming rockets launched over the border. In January 2009, she wrote an open letter challenging cabinet ministers who were glorifying war in the name of the people of Sderot.
  • The Survivors of Rwanda – Over the past fifteen years, the people of Rwanda have shown incredible courage and resilience. They have set an example for the world of how to put aside hatred and revenge by encouraging former perpetrators of violence and genocide to return to their communities and help build a united Rwanda.

2010 Honorees

  • Eric Niagira, Burundi – Eric is a former child soldier in Burundi. He is the founding President of an organization called CEDAC, which brings together ex-combatants and former government soldiers in reconciliation and economic opportunity projects to strengthen the peace in Burundi and prevent violence. Currently 25,000 demobilized soldiers are active members of Eric’s organization. One of Eric’s successful efforts has been to collect and destroy thousands of small arms from villages all across the country.
  • The Corporation for Citizens’ Participation. Colombia – The Corporation for Citizens’ Participation (Conciudadan’a) is an organization whose mission is to promote the strengthening of local democracy and break cycles of community violence. They are dedicated to working with vulnerable citizens and often have risked their own lives during the height of the conflict. Since 2001, the Corporation for Citizens’ Participation has implemented a unique psychosocial recovery approach that uses peer support through group meetings of survivors. Ms. Beatriz Montoya and Mr. Ramon Moncada accepted the Niarchos Prize on behalf of the Corporation. Both have dedicated over thirty years of their lives to helping survivors overcome their pain, move on with their lives, and support others.
  • Forsan Hussein, Israel – Forsan is the first Muslim ever appointed to head a YMCA. Forsan grew up in a small Arab village in northern Israel. From a very early age, he became a passionate peacemaker, building bridges between Arab and Jewish students and their communities. Forsan has created more than 20 Palestinian-Israeli dialogue groups, is a spokesperson and advisor for the Abraham Fund Initiative, has established an international nonprofit organization to advance Middle East peace and founded a summer camp in Canada for Jewish and Palestinian children. Forsan now runs the Jerusalem International YMCA as a place of peaceful co-existence, including a preschool that brings together 120 Christian, Jewish and Muslim children from home and abroad.

A special award is also presented each year to a writer, artist, or performance group whose work embodies the spirit of survivorship.

  • The Blind Boys of Alabama received the award in 2005 for music and performances spanning 60 years. The resilience of these gospel and blues singers are a testimony to true grit and talent in the fight against racial discrimination and violence.
  • Author and journalist Michael Weisskopf and political cartoonist Garry Trudeau were both honored in 2006. While covering a story in Iraq, a grenade landed in the truck in which Mr. Weisskopf was traveling. He threw the live grenade away from the vehicle, saving the lives of everyone on board, but losing his right hand in the process. Mr. Trudeau’s comic strip, Doonesbury, features a character that went to Iraq and lost a leg to a mine. The Niarchos special award was presented to Trudeau for conveying the darkest subjects with the lightest touch, making us laugh and think.
  • Bob and Lee Woodruff were honored in 2008 for their commitment to helping families and other caretakers address the needs of veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
  • Complexions Contemporary Ballet inspires survivorship through dance. Internationally renowned artist director, Desmond Richardson, performed a dance tribute to the spirit of survivorship at the 2009 award ceremony in New York City.

Legacy Programs

Raising the Voices (2000 – 2004)

More than 60 mine survivors had participated in the Raising the Voices program, established in 2000, implemented by Landmine Survivors Network for the World Group on Victim Assistance(WGVA) and supported by the governments of Canada and Norway. Raising the Voices was a leadership and advocacy training program for mine survivors, which ended after 2004.

In 2004, twenty-two survivors from 13 countries or regions in Europe and the Middle East (Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen) participated in the program, while, in 2003, sixteen landmine survivors from seven countries in Asia (Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) participated. In addition to telling their personal stories, landmine survivors are now consulted for substantive input into the work of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration(SC-VA). The WGVA has advocated with States Parties for the “institutionalization” of participation of landmine survivors in the inter-sessional meetings and annual meeting of state parties of the Mine Ban Treaty in the post-Nairobi period.

In each meeting of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Raising the Voices group has made interventions on a range of topics:

Latin America (2001)[Participants from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Nicaragua] Rehabilitation is a precondition to every other step required for a disabled person to become fully integrated into society. Access to rehabilitation services is inadequate or unavailable in our region. In addition, access to public places is fundamentally necessary and directly connected to our rights to earn a living to get education to get health care and to participate in society. To ensure equal participation in society we need a means of achieving economic empowerment. We need laws and policies that can provide a framework for our participation and allow us to progress in our societies.

Africa (2002)[Participants from Angola, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda] Our goal is not to solve all the problems faced by persons with disabilities, but rather to empower them to improve the quality of their own lives. One way to improve landmine survivors’ lives is to ensure their access to basic education as this is very limited for most survivors, especially women. Basic education and literacy should be considered a form of victim assistance. Empowerment is the power to choose one’s path in life whether it be the path of a tailor or the path of a lawyer and basic literacy training opens doors to any of these paths. In the Mine Ban Treaty, care, rehabilitation, social integration, and economic integration are all mentioned, as they should be, but we recommend an emphasis on the fact that care, rehabilitation, and social integration should lead to economic integration. It is really true that people prefer not to beg – they would rather work.

Asia (2003)[Participants from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand] We encourage governments to promote persons with disabilities participation in the workforce through support including vocational training, quota schemes, technical or financial assistance to companies employing persons with disabilities, and grants or interest-free loans to help start projects or small businesses. To ensure success, persons with disabilities should receive technical assistance, and where possible financial assistance, at all stages from development to training to implementation and ongoing evaluation. We encourage governments to promote and assist persons with disabilities to establish and strengthen self-help groups so they can play a role in developing law and policy on disability issues. Governments should adopt a consistent approach to disability and ensure that landmine survivors benefit from the relevant programs.

East Europe (2004)[Participants from Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine] In order to live as equal and independent citizens, we require access. Rule Five of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities lists five specific areas of society for which accessibility is key: infrastructures, transportation, buildings, communication systems, and assistive devices. On economic reintegration, we recommend that 1) laws not discriminate against landmine survivors, 2) employers of landmine survivors receive tax reduction, 3) the promotion of professional, including re-qualification, training, 4) self-employment, especially small businesses and home based businesses, 5) favorable loan conditions for self-employment of mine survivors, 6) prioritization in tendering and contracting to companies that employ mine survivors, 7) flexible hours for mine survivors, 8) equal and adequate pay for mine survivors, 9) employment of mine survivors in the public sector, 10) establishment of a fund for pilot programs that is financed by the taxation of luxury goods.

The Middle East (2004)[Participants from Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen] In the daily life of persons with disabilities access is important whether in collecting water, going to school, trying to get to work, applying for a job, or participating in international events such as the Nairobi Summit. Ensuring access requires that effective measures be undertaken immediately including the legal and policy change. We would like to emphasize four of the many components of social and economic reintegration: the right to work, policy-making and planning, formation of associations for landmine survivors, and technical and economic cooperation.

US Program

Survivor Corps launched the US Program in 2008 to help American service members returning home from war. This program enabled these brave men and women to overcome the debilitating effects of trauma and to reintegrate into their families and communities.

Our US Program included three initiatives:

  • Community – based Partnerships in Peer Support – We were training organizations to connect those affected by war so that they may better overcome trauma and injury, reconnect with their families, and contribute to their communities. This approach, known as peer support, is based on the understanding that the best help comes from someone who has been through a similar experience.
  • Survivor Net – We were building an online community of support that would connect service members to peers with a shared experience, using survivor hosted blogs, innovative social networking, and links to additional resources.
  • Convene Government, Business, and Nonprofit Institutions – No single organization can fully address the homecoming of so many. A collaborative approach is needed. Survivor Corps was bringing together, for the first time, leaders from across sectors to work together on a better approach to the healthy reintegration of returning troops.