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Helping Children Harmed by War: Meet Samantha Nutt, a Great Leader

January 27, 2014

Sam Nutt Samantha Nutt was only 25 years old when she visited Somalia in 1995. A new medical school grad, she witnessed the armed renegade gangs roaming at will, women holding dead babies, and over-worked volunteer workers. Her startling experience served as the catalyst to create Warchild whose mission is to help rebuild communities that have been devastated by war.

Dr. Nutt, one of five incredible leaders I profile in my Leadership 2013: An All-Star Female Line Up!, is a physician at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She’s sometimes part of CBC National’s panel discussions on policy and international development issues.

Nominated by the Globe & Mail as one of Canada’s 25 most influential people, she is highly articulate and knowledgeable on the desperate plight facing children living in war zones around the world. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2010 and the Order of Ontario in 2011. Her acclaimed book Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies and Aide examines the painful realities of exploited peoples due to internal civil wars and the huge policy challenges needed to overcome the inertia. Take a moment to watch this short video clip of an interview Dr. Nutt gave to Allan Greg on the topic of her book.

Dr. Nutt has experienced several lifetimes for someone just in her forties. The following quotation of one particular hair raising encounter is a poignant reminder of the inherent dangers of overseas work:

“Shortly afterwards, it sounded as if the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) were landing dangerously close – so close that I immediately dropped to the floor, prompting an unflinching Congolese man in the lobby, who’d obviously endured much worse, to jokingly say, ”I see you do not enjoy the beautiful music we play here in the Congo.” It is still one of the most reassuring things anyone has ever said to me in the midst of a crisis.”

When Dr. Nutt is interviewed or participating on panels on TV she comes across as reserved, articulate and humble. Yet she is steadfastly focused on her mission and has worked tirelessly for many years to improve the conditions that children affected by war face. She is a true Canadian leader.

Justice not charity, solidarity not pity, opportunity not handouts.

― Samantha Nutt

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