Sister Cities International Announces Winners of 2016 Annual Awards for Innovation in Humanitarian Assistance

WASHINGTON, DC – The 2016 Sister Cities International Innovation Award for Humanitarian Assistance recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding community and individual sister city programs that promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.

The award was given to sister city organizations from cities in three different population categories. City of Coral Gables International Affairs Coordinating Council (IACC) of Coral Gables, Florida won for cities of under 100,000 people; Pasadena Sister Cities Committee (PSCC) of Pasadena, California won for cities with population between 100,00 and 500,000; and Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) of Houston, Texas won for cities with population over 500,000.

IACC won for providing fire trucks and rescue/emergency equipment to the Municipal Fire Department of La Antigua, Guatemala in 2015. Although the sister cities of Coral Gables and La Antigua, Guatemala have enjoyed cultural exchanges since 1993, this was the first time in 23 years that the sister city relationship led to a humanitarian exchange. The equipment is now being used by the La Antigua Municipal Fire Department to provide enhanced fire and emergency response within the city and neighboring towns that will help protect over 45,000 residents. 

PSCC was recognized for its work to raise funds to have heaters installed at School #3 in their sister city Vanadzor, Armenia in 2015. Being that the Armenian winters are very harsh, the unheated school created challenging learning conditions. PSCC worked alongside the Mayor of Vanadzor to provide financial and organizational assistance. 

HKSCA received the award for providing aid to Karachi during a heat wave in the summer of 2015. Temperatures reached as high as 120°F and resulted in the deaths of over 1,500 people. In Karachi, a city of over 20 million people, water resources that were already challenged became increasingly strained during this time. Citizens of Karachi typically rely on tanker trucks to deliver water to resident’s homes rather than having access to clean water that is pumped directly. As such, HKSCA, in the spirit of sister city values, knew it needed to help Karachi find a solution. In particular, HKSCA knew that finding a sustainable solution would be key in alleviating the problem. In addition to providing sponsorship for a water pump in Karachi, HKSCA hoped that its involvement would raise awareness and inspire other organizations to replicate similar projects. Thus, access to water for each citizen of Karachi could become a reality, one community at a time. 

SCI’s Annual Awards are awarded in several categories including Best Overall, Innovation (Arts and Culture, Economic Development, Humanitarian Assistance, and Youth and Education), and Volunteer of the Year. Award winners will be honored at the Lou Wozar Diplomatic Awards Dinner on Saturday, July 16 during SCI’s 60th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, DC. 

SCI’s 60th anniversary celebration will include an Annual Conference and Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, DC July 13-16, 2016. The celebration will bring together hundreds of the most influential global leaders in diplomacy, foreign affairs, policy, business, and innovation. Elected and municipal officials, business leaders, youth delegates, and citizen diplomats will discuss this year’s theme “Peace through People,” building on President Eisenhower’s initial vision of creating a more peaceful world by building global relationships. 

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About Sister Cities International 

Founded as a Presidential Initiative by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for 570 member communities with 2,300 partnerships in 150 countries on six continents. The sister city network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers who work tirelessly to promote the organizations’ mission of creating world peace and understanding through economic development, youth and education, arts and culture, and humanitarian assistance. 

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