STA, 1 February 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has nominated Slovenian Madagascar-based missionary Pedro Opeka and his humanitarian organisation Akamasoa for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Janša's office said in a press release on Sunday evening. The prime minister welcomed Opeka's comprehensive approach to the development of society and humanitarianism.
He said the activities of Opeka and his organisation personified the goals of the United Nations.
In the last 30 years, Opeka and Akamasoa have fought many battles against poverty, giving people from the social margin hope and creating opportunities for them to restore their dignity, Janša's office said.
Opeka has dedicated his life to helping people living in desperate conditions in the town of Antananarivo on Madagascar. He has enabled them to work, and gain financial independence and education.
The Akamasoa community now includes more than 18 villages with all required infrastructure. Former homeless people and families now live in more than 4,000 brick houses. The community provides an education system including kindergarten, primary and secondary schools and since recently also the university of Akamasoa, and three libraries.
Opeka and Akamasoa have so far helped more than half a million people. Akamasoa annually distributes about five million meals.
According to Janša, the charity work of Opeka and his co-workers has become a "global peace project in the battle against poverty, marginalisation and injustices".
This is the third time that Opeka is being nominated for the prize. Janša first nominated him in 2013, and a number of people from the academia, politics and civil society backed the nomination. Prime Minister Miro Cerar nominated him in 2015.
Born to Slovenian expats in Buenos Aires in 1948, Opeka joined the Lazarian missionary society in 1966. He studied theology in Ljubljana, but completed his studies at the Catholic Institute in Paris. He has been living and working in Madagascar since 1976.
Opeka has received numerous recognitions for his work, including the Golden Order for Services.