Representatives of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Visit Tyrone; Thank Students for Years of Support

Representatives of Panzi USA told students about the work being done to help victims of sexual violence in the DRC

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Students from Tyrone Area High School received a visit last Friday from representatives of the organization founded to support the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege.

Panzi USA Foundation Executive Director Tony Gambino and Director of Development Emily Warne brought a personal thank you from Dr. Mukwege for the school’s long-standing support of the hospital he founded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

When I joined the Panzi Foundation, Tyrone High School was the very first relationship anyone told me about because it is really so special. The people in Bukavu know about you, and they know about the work that you are doing for them.”

— Panzi Foundation Director of Communication Emily Warne

“I think the students were really moved by the assembly. It was so powerful, yet so heartbreaking. More people need to know what’s going on in the DRC,” said YAN Vice President Ava McCracken.

Congo’s eastern provinces have been plagued by conflict for more than two decades. Rape and sexual assault of women and children has been used as a weapon of war for many years. Since its founding in 1999, Panzi Hospital has treated over 85,000 victims of sexual violence, ranging in age from eighteen months to 70 years old.

Although Mukwege’s work is being done over 7,000 miles away, Tyrone students have developed a decade-long relationship with the hospital.

“When I joined the Panzi Foundation, Tyrone High School was the very first relationship anyone told me about because it is really so special,” said Warne, “The people in Bukavu know about you, and they know about the work that you are doing for them. I really want to commend you for what you are doing.”

The partnership began over 10 years ago when former Penn State Altoona professor and Panzi Foundation USA co-founder LeeAnn DeReus visited Tyrone High School to share the plight of women in the Congo and the important work being done by Dr. Mukwege’s hospital with Tyrone students.

Inspired by DeReus’s presentation, students formed a service organization called the Youth Action Network (YAN) to help raise awareness and support among Tyrone students to worthy causes both locally and globally. In addition to the Panzi Hospital, the club supports local organizations such as the Tyrone Food Bank, Red Cross, and other local relief organizations.

Panzi Infographic

Infographic courtesy of Panzi USA
The students at Tyrone High School have supported the work of Panzi Hospital for over 10 years.

Since Dr. Mukwege became well-known globally, Panzi Hospital has gained support from donors all over the world, however Tyrone High School began supporting the hospital long before Mukwege was mentioned as a possible Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“[Tyrone] is the longest relationship we’ve had with any school in the United States,” said Warne, “You’ve been around for over ten years, that’s half as long as the hospital has been open. That’s so incredible and impressive and I really want to commend [the students] for what you are doing,” said Warne.

Through annual fundraisers and activities, including the Pennies for Panzi campaign that kicks off this week, in ten years Tyrone students have raised over $11,000 to support the hospital, an amount that has not gone unnoticed by Panzi USA Executive Director Tony Gambino and Dr. Mukwege himself.

“That’s real money,” said Gambino, “That helps…Panzi cannot do its work without people like you. There are so many things going around in the world and in your community, but you have cared about [Mukwege’s] work.”

After hearing about Panzi Hospital in classes and through the YAN club, Tyrone students were excited to receive a personal visit from members of the hospital’s foundation.

“YAN has wanted Panzi representatives to come to our school for a while, so for us to finally have this opportunity was truly incredible,” said Tyrone senior and YAN President Hanna Gampe. “Tony and Emily were so knowledgeable and informative. I hope students now have a better understanding of how Tyrone can support Panzi Hospital and the women and children of the DRC.”

The assembly was set up in a question and answer format, giving students a chance to ask questions and learn about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Congo.

This was something that the high school students needed to see. I hope it helps our Pennies for Panzi campaign this year and encourages more students to join YAN and educate others on what is happening in the DRC”

— YAN Secretary Olivia Watson

“We were blown away by the depth and power of the students questions,” said Gambino.

Tyrone senior Sara Shock said that while the reality of what is happening to women in the Congo is tragic, the message that she took away from the assembly was uplifting.

“What I took away [from the assembly] is that a small community like Tyrone can make a big difference in a place as far away as the DRC. One small act of courage and kindness can do something so revolutionary,” said Tyrone senior Sara Shock.

Tyrone senior and YAN secretary Olivia Watson hopes that the assembly will help inspire students and staff to action.

“This was something that the high school students needed to see. I hope it helps our Pennies for Panzi campaign this year and encourages more students to join YAN and educate others on what is happening in the DRC,” said Watson.

The Pennies for Panzi donation campaign runs through February 14. Members of the public can make donations by sending money to Tyrone High School, care of the YAN Club Pennies for Panzi fund drive.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email