Prime Minister Janez Janša nominated the missionary Pedro Opeka and his humanitarian organisation, Akamasoa, which operates on the outskirts of Antananarivo in Madagascar, for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2019, the humanitarian association Akamasoa (meaning “good friend”) celebrated its 30th year anniversary. In these three decades, Pedro Opeka and his associations have fought several battles against poverty, giving people living on the edge of society hope, and giving them options and opportunities to restore their dignity.
Pedro Opeka dedicated his whole life to helping the people living in appalling living conditions in Antananarivo. Pedro Opeka, who has been helping the poorest of the poor for almost 50 years, wished to help the poor, the homeless, and everyone living on the edge of society, by making them able to lead an independent life, by granting them work and financial independence, as well as education.
The tireless efforts of Pedro Opeka and his associates have brought unbelievable results. The Akamasoa association includes more than 18 villages with all the required infrastructure. Former homeless people and families now live in more than 4,000 brick houses. The association provides comprehensive education, starting with kindergartens, then primary, vocational ,and middle schools, up to the recently established Akamasoa University and three libraries. Around 13,000 children and young people are currently in the regular education process, and are part of the school system. Young people can educate themselves for various professions and jobs. Akamasoa has six clinics, three hospitals, and four maternity clinics. There are 18 available sports grounds.
Thanks to the efforts of Pedro Opeka and his Madagascar associates, they have managed to help more than half a million of the poorest people in Madagascar. In addition, the Akamasoa association provides around 5 million meals every year.
The support offered by Akamasoa is comprehensive. Not only do they offer decent living conditions, but they also help the poor to find suitable work. Children who were living in dumps are given the option of attending classes in Akamasoa, families are offered housing in the orderly housing districts of Akamasoa, and they are offered healthcare, parks, and sports grounds.
All the work in the Akamasoa association is done by almost 500 natives. These establishments and projects, carried out by Akamasoa, provide work for more than 4,000 people in quarries, on small farms, and in various workshops and stores.
In addition to Akamasoa, Pedro Osaka also built several new educational facilities elsewhere in Madagascar, which are nowadays managed by state institutions.
Pedro Opeka teaches young Madagascar people respect and care for nature. He strongly advocates afforestation and the protection of Madagascar forests, 70% of which have already been destroyed. Every year, he plants around 50,000 seedlings with the youngsters.
Even though Pedro Opeka’s humanitarian activities are limited only to Madagascar, it attracted the attention of foreigners. Akamasoa has friends, donors, and supporters in several countries around the world. Akamasoa serves as an inspiration to learn how to share and help the most vulnerable.
The Prime Minister Janez Janša noted at the nomination that the approach of Pedro Opeka and his association, Akamasoa, is comprehensive in the aspects of the development of society and humanitarianism, and that the activity of Pedro Opeka personifies the goals of the UN. The humanitarian efforts of Pedro Opeka and his associates in Madagascar became a global peace project in the fight against poverty, marginalisation, and injustice, in order to allow poor people around the world to live a decent life.
Prime Minister Janez Janša also cited the former president of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who, in 2014, said the following about Pedro Opeka: “Father Pedro is a living beacon of hope and faith for overcoming poverty. I urge all citizens around the world to bow to this extraordinary person who spent every day of their life fighting against poverty and exclusion, and created a new society that brings hope and happiness to the poor.”