Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Founder of Panzi Hospital

Students at Tyrone High School have supported Dr. Mukwege’s hospital for nearly a decade


Photo courtesy of the Panzi Foundation

Dr. Denis Mukwege performs surgery at Panzi Hospital.

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to two campaigners against wartime sexual violence, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.  Tyrone has a special connection with one of the winners. Although his work is being done nearly seven thousand miles away in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Mukwege has also had a major impact on Tyrone High School.

Students in the Youth Action Network (YAN) at Tyrone have been learning about Mukwege and raising money for the Panzi USA Foundation for almost a decade.

Tyrone and YAN are proud to have supported the Panzi Hospital and Dr. Mukwege’s effects for a decade and for many more years to come

— YAN President Hannah Gampe

“Dr. Mukwege works hard for the women and children not only at the Panzi Hospital, but around the world. He is a role model for how selfless we should all be. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his strides in awareness of rape as a weapon of war. Tyrone and YAN are proud to have supported the Panzi Hospital and Dr. Mukwege’s effects for a decade and for many more years to come,” said Tyrone YAN President Hannah Gampe.

Mukwege, the founder of the Panzi Hospital and Foundation, is a globally renowned gynecologist and fistula surgeon. His humanitarian work at the hospital is critically important to the thousands of vulnerable women and girls that it has served over the years.

Today, Panzi Hospital continues to serve thousands of women, and Mukwege has treated women from two to 70 years old.

Tyrone’s involvement with Mukwege began in 2009 when one of the founders of Panzi Foundation USA and former Penn State University professor, LeeAnn DeReus, started the Youth Action Network (YAN) in six school districts across Blair County. Tyrone is the only school where the organization stuck and is still active today.

Nathan Hormell

“Over the years, all the organizations at other schools fizzled out, but the Panzi Hospital is something Mr. McNitt and I felt very strongly about from the very beginning,” said YAN advisor Tracy Redinger.

Through the annual YAN Halloween Event and Pennies for Panzi fund drive, Tyrone students have raised approximately $12,000 for Panzi Hospital.  Tyrone is the only high school in the United States with such a long history of support for the foundation.

Several years ago, the money raised by students from Tyrone was used to purchase playground equipment for the children of the thousands of women that the hospital has treated over the years. In response, the children of Panzi sent a thank you video to the students of Tyrone (see attached video).

“I think it’s astonishing that a small school like ours has a connection to such a well-known world figure like Dr. Mukwege. It really shows how small, yet large the world is. To represent YAN is an amazing feeling knowing that we have made a difference in women’s lives that we have never even met before,” said YAN homecoming representative Olivia Watson. 

Mukwege’s work has struck a chord with TAHS and to co-YAN adviser Cummins McNitt, Mukwege winning the Nobel Peace Prize couldn’t be more deserved.

“[It means] several things. It means that the world is finally recognizing a man who has had an impact on thousands of women, and their children, and their communities. It also validates the hard work of TAHS from the past decade… not only YAN, but the community that supported you,” said McNitt.

Panzi Hospital
photo courtesy of Panzi Hospital
Children of the Panzi Hospital in front of playground equipment that was paid for with donations from Tyrone High School students.