Encinitas Rotary Peacemaker Award honors champion of forgiveness, compassion

(L-R) District 3 County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar who nominated Azim Khamisa; Azim Khamisa, PeaceMaker Award winner; Deb Vaughan-Cleff, Encinitas Rotary Club president.

The Encinitas Rotary Club recently announced that Azim Khamisa, the founder of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF), is the recipient of its 2019 Peacemaker Award.

Following the tragic death of his only son, Tariq, in a senseless, gang-related murder in San Diego in 1995, Azim chose the path of forgiveness and compassion rather than revenge and bitterness. This amazing choice led to the establishment of a foundation in his son’s name, whose mission is to save lives of children, empower the right choices and teach the principles of nonviolence – of empathy, compassion, forgiveness and peacemaking.

Tariq Khamisa was killed by a 14-year-old gang member, Tony Hicks. Tony was tried as an adult and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Azim Khamisa felt this tragedy created victims on both ends of the gun. In an act of extraordinary grace and forgiveness, Azim reached out to Tony’s grandfather, Ples Felix. The two men came together in the spirit of healing to end youth violence. In November 2018, with Azim by his side, Tony Hicks was granted parole. Once released from prison, Tony will join Azim and TKF to share their inspirational message of forgiveness, peace and hope to a world in desperate need.

Azim, who emigrated to the United States in 1974 to escape violence in Kenya, has spent the past 24 years devoted to creating safer schools and communities through educating and inspiring children in the restorative principles of accountability, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking. The Tariq Khamisa Foundation ( and the subsequent forgiveness movement has reached millions of children and adults across the world. Azim, who frequently speaks on this topic, has written three books, including “From Murder to Forgiveness: A Father’s Journey.”

“The Peacemaker Award recognizes visionaries who have persevered to realize their passion and commitment to making a better world for everyone,” said Encinitas Rotary President Deb Vaughan-Cleff. “Azim’s powerful message of forgiveness and compassion instills hope for those vulnerable to violence, crime, harm and poverty. He is truly a remarkable individual.”

The Encinitas Rotary Club Peacemaker Award annually recognizes community members who have made a significant difference in promoting tolerance, understanding, conflict resolution and peace, either locally or globally. To learn more about Encinitas Rotary, visit —News release