BURLINGAME (CBS SF) -- Delfarib Fanaie was overseas, assessing how well her nonprofit is feeding children in some of the most remote, impoverished areas of the world when her husband shared the good news:
"I couldn't believe what I'm hearing. He kept telling me, 'You won the Jefferson Award, the gold,' and I kept saying to myself, 'No, no, no, this cannot be true,'" she said.
Fanaie won the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for service to local communities. The Jefferson Awards' parent organization Multiplying Good made the announcement in Indiana at its national celebration of service.
"I am really shocked and honored to be recognized for something that I loved so much to do," Fanaie said.
She co-founded Moms Against Poverty in 2008 to provide education, health, and orphan care, plus basic needs - like food, water and hygiene products.
The Burlingame-based nonprofit has served more than two million people -- mostly poor children -- in the US, Iran, Cambodia, Senegal and 12 other countries.
The organization has built more than 60 schools and supports more than 30 orphan care centers.
Its food baskets have gone to children from Asia to more than 27,000 Afghans at the Iran border who've fled the Taliban. Her recent trip to her native Iran shows the skyrocketing need in the pandemic.
She shared the story of a mother she met whose 10 year old daughter is too weak from malnourishment to undergo open heart surgery to save her life.
The story broke her heart.
"I was thinking that she is like a lot of mothers around the world looking at their children in despair, not knowing what to do for them," Fanaie said.
She said Moms Against Poverty is giving her a food budget, and when she is strong enough, a volunteer has offered to fund the cost of her heart surgery.
Stories like this motivate Fanaie to do more.
"I'm a believer that if we come together we can change things," she said.
So for receiving a national Jefferson Award for serving millions of people around the world through Moms Against Poverty, we congratulate Delfarib Fanaie. .
Moms Against Poverty has its annual fundraiser on October 1st at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts. A month later, Fanaie will receive her national award at Multiplying Good's ceremony in New York City.
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