T&T may once again not be able to traditionally celebrate Independence Day this year, but it can certainly feel a sense of national pride as one of its own has been honoured with a prestigious US Presidential Award, for her volunteer service.

Domestic violence survivor and activist Sherna Alexander-Benjamin recently received the President Volunteer Service Award (Gold), via AmeriCorps in recognition of her volunteer service in the areas of climate, environmental, and gender justice, working with US-based NGO—Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance (ACJA), founded by Maria Santiago-Valentin.

In a WhatsApp interview on August 19, an elated Alexander-Benjamin who is also the founder and president of the Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals (O.A.B.I), shared the good news with Guardian Media.

Of her accomplishment, she said, “It’s an honour. This is a big deal over here in America and for an international student coming from the Caribbean to achieve such an honour, is an inspirational thing for a lot of our people back home (T&T) who are doing the work. It may look difficult, it may look hard, but some rewards come with it, doing the work the right way.”

Alexander-Benjamin who is affiliated with Huntington University, Indiana has been championing several causes since 2008, with a particular focus on domestic violence and later on gender-based violence.

A survivor as well of child sexual abuse, her advocacy work spans from child rights, to social justice and rehabilitative justice.

She holds several certificates from various institutes in gender rights and specialises in sexual trauma, advocacy leadership and development, and conflict transformation to name a few.

In a release on Wednesday from Minister for Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy, she congratulated Alexander-Benjamin on the achievement.

Listing several highlights of Alex-Benjamin’s work throughout the release, the Minister wrote on behalf of her office, “I congratulate Ms. Alexander-Benjamin for her tremendous achievement in receiving this award and thanks her for the continued work in advancing the gender machinery locally, regionally, and internationally so that men, women, and children may live a life free from gender-based violence.”

Reporter: Bobie-Lee Dixon