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For immediate release: May 13, 2004
Media contact: Eric Quiñones, (609) 258-5748, quinones@princeton.edu

Editors: Photos are available at: http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/a-f/delgado/ and http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/s-z/thomas-k/

Two seniors awarded Labouisse Prize for work in Brazil, Afghanistan

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Princeton University seniors Fernando Delgado and Karim Thomas each have been awarded the Henry Richardson Labouisse '26 Prize, which will allow them to pursue postgraduate projects in Brazil and Afghanistan, respectively.

The Labouisse fellowship provides $25,000 in funding to support research in developing countries by a graduating senior or a first-year alumnus or alumna who intends to pursue a career devoted to problems of development and modernization.

Delgado, who is from Brasilia, Brazil, will earn a degree in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a certificate in Latin American studies. He will use his Labouisse award to work with Viva Rio, a human rights organization in Rio de Janeiro, and with Human Rights Watch to monitor conditions in the city's child detention centers. Delgado will assist in Viva Rio's educational and community development efforts, compiling the best practices used in efforts to rehabilitate youth offenders.

Noting the high number of gun-related deaths in Rio de Janeiro, Delgado said that his work with Viva Rio will "allow me to contribute meaningfully to those campaigns that aim to assist kids in criminal detention in Brazil, who are often the most vulnerable to abuses in the turmoil of this public security crisis. Deep reforms are needed to correct the brutal violations occurring in the juvenile justice apparatus in my country."

Delgado won the Paul Sigmund Award, a grant from the Program in Latin American Studies, to study the social mobility of street children in Salvador, Brazil, in the summer of 2002. Princeton sociologist Patricia Fernández-Kelly, who served as adviser for Delgado's senior thesis on social exclusion and violence in Salvador, said his research on Brazil's street children was "riveting and meaningful."

"Fernando has shown a powerful ability to grasp social and economic realities without yielding to partiality or sentimentalism. I believe he has a brilliant future as a researcher and advocate for social justice," Fernández-Kelly said.

Delgado also has worked as an intern for Human Rights Watch in New York. At Princeton, he has been a columnist for The Daily Princetonian, a member of the International Relations Council and a saxophonist for the University Wind Ensemble and the Sensemayá Afrobeat All-Stars. Delgado eventually plans to attend law school or graduate school for sociology and to remain active in human rights work.

Thomas, who is from Vancouver, British Columbia, also is a Woodrow Wilson School major and is a certificate candidate in Near Eastern studies. With his Labouisse prize, Thomas will return to Afghanistan to work for President Hamid Karzai's administration to pursue development efforts in the war-torn nation.

Thomas, who worked for Karzai's chief of staff last summer, said "one of the difficulties when you work in a place like Afghanistan is that your job description changes every day." His main focus during the next year will be on "initiating and coordinating programs to engage nontraditional institutions and other sources of aid in development for Afghanistan" by fostering ties between government, universities, professional associations and other organizations.

With his sister, Rishma, a Princeton junior, Thomas founded SPARKS, an organization that has helped establish a new school in the Afghan capital of Kabul and strives to promote youth involvement in community service worldwide. SPARKS began as a grade-school service club and now includes a Princeton chapter, whose members have worked in Afghanistan during the country's rebuilding after the ouster of the Taliban regime.

Thomas worked in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan in 2000 and traveled to Afghanistan in the summer of 2002. There he met Robert Finn, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and currently a visiting lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, who called Thomas "one of the most impressive young people I've met."

"He manages to get people involved and to be helpful without being aggressive, has incredible organization and follow-through abilities, and is a true visionary," Finn said. "He is the model of what he wants to achieve, and we can all learn from him."

Thomas has been accepted to Harvard Business School and plans to pursue a joint MBA and law degree after he completes his Labouisse project.

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