Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Service to mankind – the CNN Hero 2010. : Anuradha Koirala

CNN Heroes is an annual television special created by CNN to honour individuals who make extraordinary contributions to help others.  It started in 2007 and is going great guns. Over the course of the year, viewers can nominate and vote for the heroes they want to nominate for recognition and honouring.   Recently on 23rd Sept 2010, the top 10 CNN Heroes for this year were revealed on CNN.com. Selected by a Blue Ribbon Panel of  humanitarians, profiles of the Top 10 Heroes  were  on www.CNNHeroes.com.  There was online voting and this was widely reported in the media.    In 2010, the campaign received over 10,000 submissions from more than 100 countries and our own  Narayan Krishnan who runs ‘Akshaya Pathram’ in Madurai feeding poor was one.  Please do see my earlier post :  http://sampspeak.blogspot.com/2010/10/akshaya-patram-continuous-service-to.html
The top 10 were heroes in their own right  which included :  Guadalupe Arizpe De La Vega founded a hospital in Juarez, Mexico, that cares for about 900 people daily;  Susan Burton’s  nonprofit A New Way of Life Reentry Project provides sober housing and other support services to formerly incarcerated women in California.; Narayanan Krishnan  has been providing  hot meals and dignity to India's homeless and destitute.; Harmon Parker  is using his masonry skills to save lives and has built 45 footbridges over perilous rivers in Kenya; Aki Ra  has been making Cambodia safer by clearing land mines; Evans Wadongo, 23, invented a way for rural families in Kenya to replace smoky kerosene and firelight with solar power.; Dan Wallrath has given injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans homes of their own -- mortgage-free.  The Hero picked by the elitist panel of Judges has been announced… it was not Narayan Krishnan; though he richly deserved the coveted award.  Again winning or not, he continues his crusade and deserves a very high place in our Society.  The winner was a woman with Indian connection.

Born on April 14, 1949 in Rumjatar, Okhaldhunga as the third child of Colonel Pratap Singh Gurung and Laxmi, she did her schooling from the St Joseph´s Convent School in Kalimpong, India. Being daughter of an Indian Army officer, she completed her formal education in India doing Bachelor of Arts from Kolkata.  She taught English for 20 years in different schools of Kathmandu including the Budhanilkantha School. She started Maiti Nepal in 1993 along with eight other women and the NGO now looks after 150 formerly trafficked girls and 475 children most of whom were affected by the decade-long armed conflict. The Maiti Nepal premise now boasts of a school, a clinic, a women´s rehabilitation center, a child protection center, and an administrative building in the same compound.
Trafficking of women is a worser crime – those women lose their freedom freedom and are subjected to violence to make them submit – a grave injustice.  "Human trafficking is a crime, a heinous crime, a shame to humanity," – and somebody devotedly fighting for their cause became CNN Hero 2010.
It was  Anuradha Koirala who was chosen by the public in an online poll that ran for eight weeks on CNN.com and was announced as the winner by  CNN's Anderson Cooper .  Koirala was introduced by actress Demi Moore, who along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, created DNA, The Demi and Ashton Foundation, which aims to eliminate child sex slavery worldwide.  "Every day this woman confronts the worst of what humanity has to offer," Moore said of Koirala.

Since 1993, she has helped rescue more than 12,000 women and girls. Through her organization Maiti Nepal, she has provided more than a shelter for these girls and young women, she has created a home. It is a place for them to heal, go to school, learn a skill, and for some who are infected with HIV/AIDS, it is the place where they can spend their days surrounded by love." Maiti Nepal also works on reuniting the rescued women with their families, patrolling Nepal-India border with police and other law enforcement authorities and also rescuing trafficked women from the brothels in India with the help of Indian authorities.   Awards and recognitions are not new to Koirala.  She had  received the Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts on August 25, 2006 and the CNN Heroes is another feather.  “I feel this award has added more responsibility on my shoulders,” Koirala stated upon receiving the award.

Koirala will receive $100,000 to continue her work with Maiti Nepal, in addition to the $25,000 awarded to each of the top 10 Heroes honored.

The show reportedly  opened with a salute to the 33 Chilean miners and five of the people who rescued them  after the miners spent 69 days underground.  They had endured a nightmare and CNN had brought the miners and their rescuers to the United States to attend the tribute show. The five rescuers were selected to represent the many thousands whose talent and effort led to the dramatic rescue.
Pablo Fajardo of Ecuador was awarded with the CNN Hero Award in 2007 for making remarkable contribution in environmental conservation, American Liz McCartney got the award in 2008 for her dedication in helping Hurricane Katrina survivors and Efren Penaflorida of the Philippines got it in 2009 for educating the poor children.

He  might not have been anointed with the CNN award but Narayan Krishnan and his Akshaya Pathram would ever remain top amongst Indian hearts.  Akshaya has earned a solid trust and  growing recognition from a wide cross-section of society from India and the International community.   The sanskrit word ‘Akshaya’ meaning undecaying or imperishable is indeed the vessel that has been providing human compassion without limits.  The spirit of helping inculcated by this great Person is certain to grow unbounded.

It is not the food that this suave person has been providing to the homeless in the temple town of Madurai but the restoration of dignity and compassion, which would rankle for ever.  

LONG LIVE OUR EVER GREEN HERO NARAYAN KRISHNAN AND AKSHAYA:  They can be contacted at :
Akshaya's Helping in H.E.L.P. Trust
9, West 1st Main Street
, Doak Nagar Extension, Madurai 625 010. India
Ph: +91(0)452 4353439/2587104 Cell:+91 98433 19933
E mail : ramdost@sancharnet.in
Regd : Doc no 197 / 2003 - Sub Registrar, Madurai-10
For more details you can visit : www.akshayatrust.org

He certainly may not need your vote to continue his mission but we have a duty to ensure that our Hero stays on top of all and continues to inspire us.

Regards –S. Sampathkumar.

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