When Sakena Yacoobi was four years old, she remembers her father bringing her to a Mosque near her home in Afghanistan – even though at the time she didn’t understand the meaning of prayer. She is certain these experiences as a child fortified her belief in God, and credits her Muslim faith as a pillar that lent structure to her life and work. She also recalls at a very young age wanting to someday help the women of Afghanistan.
Sakena grew up in a very loving and supportive home, and was particularly close to her father – a self-made businessman. At great personal sacrifice and anticipating the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, her parents sent her to college in the United States where she earned a pre-med degree at the University of California at Stockton, and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University. Sakena supported herself through work-study jobs, eventually earning a scholarship, and spent time while in school deepening her understanding of Islam and other faiths. While she was in graduate school, Sakena’s family was forced to move to a refugee camp in Iran. They remained in Iran until 1990 when Sakena brought them to the U.S.
For more on this story, visit: The Opus Prize | 2013 Prize Winner.