Trustee Karen Wilkinson, presenter
Albert Schweitzer has become a strong role model for the Chapman University community; his image appears in many locations around the campus. His ninety-year life, much of which was spent healing the sick in the nation of Gabon, encourages us to grant dignity to all people, serve others, and have reverence for life. Chapman University’s Schweitzer Institute is a repository of many Schweitzer papers, photographs, and personal effects, as well as a scholarly center for the study of the values he espoused. Each year at this time, the Schweitzer Institute presents an Award of Excellence to an organization or persons who exemplify the life of Dr. Schweitzer.
This year’s award goes to a person who is a valued member of our Chapman community, Mr. Michael Belay. Michael is the founder of “Hands Across the Planet to Poor Youth, Inc.,” known as HAPPY. In the seven years of HAPPY’s existence, Michael’s philanthropy has provided ten working, well-stocked classrooms for children in his home village in Ethiopia, with more construction planned to come.
Michael has demonstrated in his personal life and his commitment to the children of Ethiopia a profound sense of generosity – a generosity that has led him to give as much as he can give of his own resources and to urge others to do whatever they can do for the children of the world
In his dedication to a life of service, Michael exemplifies the spirit of Albert Schweitzer and Schweitzer’s ethic of reverence for life. A saying of Schweitzer displayed on the campus of Chapman University states, “Search and see whether there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.” Michael Belay has searched and has found his humane place in this world, and we are delighted to acknowledge and honor him with the Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence.