The award recognises outstanding individual volunteers in Commonwealth member countries who are making a change in their community.
Drawing on her experiences as a wheelchair user, Thoma has been instrumental in shaping Nauru’s disability policies and practices for more than 30 years.
According to the Points of Light wesbite, Thoma successfully advocated for Nauru to sign legislation in accordance with the ‘UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities.’
“I feel honoured and boosted in my feeling that something happening on the small island of Nauru, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is being noticed by bigger countries, who are showing concern of what we’re doing here,”Thoma said.
It’s very difficult to try and change people. They’re so set in their ways, in one way of living their life, and then for me to come along and say this is not right and try and do this, it’s not very helpful because, at the best of times, people have difficulty with change. But receiving this award, I think it’s a great incentive to myself that it gives me the urge to do more because as I was going downhill getting tired, worn out, discouraged and giving up hope, receiving this award by surprise is like an injection of some boosting thing to happen, to see, to continue. I think the best way to motivate people is to get them on board, educate them, and to see why they need to change.”
Thoma was Nauru's first female parliamentarian.
In a tweet this week, the Nauru government congratulated Thoma upon receiving the award.
Photo source Twitter Nauru Government. Caption: Ruby Thoma with her award.