Father Charles Ogada
Creating a bright future for the children of Nigeria
In Ebe, a poverty stricken rural county in Nigeria, many struggle to find access to water, shelter, medical care and education. Joy Village, founded by Father Charles Ogada, works every day to eradicate poverty in this area by providing water, education and medical care for free.
Joy Village first began as a singular one-storey building. In only five years after its establishment, Father Charles grew the operation to include a project to supply water to 10,000 living in surrounding villages, as well as an academy providing education for 450 children, a home for marginalized youth and a hospital with 24 beds to treat the needy – irrespective of caste, colour or creed.
Father Charles created the Village as an ideal community where members can live united and in harmony, without sectarian, religious or tribal divisions. The education is values-based, aiming to provide a holistic learning process to foster universal human values like integrity, empathy, sacrifice and harmony in his students. Like a proud father, he has witnessed them grow into strong, self-aware, self-reliant and happy adults, ready to contribute to their communities. In fact, his students set up the Helping Hands Community Initiative where they helped over 800 disabled and disadvantaged locals improve their quality of life.
Believing “in every child there is a diamond of values”, Father Charles works tirelessly to ensure each student flourishes under his care. He often rises hours before dawn to drive a bus to collect children from remote areas and spends time training and monitoring teachers to make sure they infuse human values into their teaching. He also plans and supervises the construction of new facilities, recruits staff and sources medical supplies, and leads the Village in tree planting, landscaping and growing vegetables.
The Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF), founded by Kanchana Thornton, provides urgently needed medical treatment for children affected by decades of war and political neglect on the Thai-Burma border.
At the heart of Kanchana’s mission is her belief in access to healthcare as a basic human right. Since establishing BCMF she has placed herself on-call 24 hours daily, often waking at 4 a.m. or earlier. She spent many years winning the hard-earned trust and respect of regional security agencies and district authorities who allow her to operate her programs in armed territories of conflict. Her determination and her approach of treating all with respect, be it patients or officials, has helped her develop the extensive network of healthcare facilities she has today.
Through the partnerships forged with the military, police, hospitals, medical specialists and religious leaders in Thailand, Kanchana has acquired permission to treat undocumented refugees and migrants, ensured their safe passage to medical facilities and negotiated significant discounts in hospital bills. However, establishing the same success in Burma was more challenging, with its large number of remote facilities and deteriorating hospital system. To combat this Kanchana created a referral network among these isolated organisations so that they could better support their patients and use their limited resources more effectively.
Since establishing BCMF in 2006, Kanchana has helped save over 2,000 young lives. Recently, she expanded BCMF to include Burma Adult Medical Fund (BAMF) and Burma Woman Medical Fund (BWMF). The organisation also distributes wheelchairs and provides training to certain groups in In Karen State, Mon State and Yangon, so that they can assemble and custom fit wheelchairs independently.
A hero who has created a better future for his community
Growing up in the small village of Meghauliin Nepal, Hari Bhandary witnessed the hardships of life from a young age. His village was plagued with poor health care and sanitation, but fortunately he was afforded a better life than most, and was able to complete his education before securing a paid job in Kathmandu.
When he turned 19 , he purchased a parcel of land and established a guest house for tourists. He started selling Nepalese jewellery and organising tours for tourists to raise funds for members of the community.
In 1990 a chance encounter with social workers from Germany inspired him to establish a much-needed medical clinic. After completing his Medical Training in Katmandu he founded a new organisation, Shanti Sewa Ghriha, together with several friends ,and through which he built a hospital and rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu in 1992. His hometown of Meghauli was next on his list.
Raising funds for the new project wasn’t easy – he had to sell his personal possessions and appeal to hundreds of donors via letters. Finally in 1997 a new organisation, ClinicNepal, was born with the mission to improve health, sanitation, access to clean water and education in Meghauli.
Since then ClinicNepal has launched various initiatives in Meghauli including the opening of the Friendship Clinic health care centre which offers proper medical care to the sick and impoverished. They have also implemented programmes focusing on vocational training, education and farming, while setting up free health camps in remote villages run by health care providers and volunteers. Meanwhile the Clean Water Project, which was established in 2001, has seen over 240 water pumps installed in and around the village to provide clean water. They also they built about 2700 latrines. They are currently working on building homes for earthquake victims in the Gorkha region.
And in 2015 they initiated a project to provide safe drinking water to run directly from taps in about 1400 houses.
Today Mr. Bhandhary serves as an ambassador for his country and continues to educate his countrymen on the need to eliminate human suffering and their duty to serve others.
Unlike many of the children she cares for today, Morn Savourn was born into one of the richest families in her village near Siem Reap, Cambodia. When her father became critically ill, they become one of the area’s poorest.
It was during a visit to Leap Chass village, one of the most poverty stricken areas in the country, that she was faced with the worst of humanity. Although Ms. Savourn was already working for an international charity organisation, she knew she there was more she could do to give the children of Siem Reap a second chance at a better life.
In 2010, she established the Children and Development Organisation (CDO) and built a school that houses 100 students for daytime classes a well as full-time boarders. The students at CDO aren’t orphans. In fact, many of them have parents in Leap Chass, which is two hours away. The CDO however provides these children with all the necessities that their parents can’t – a stable and better education, clean water and nutritious food and proper clothing. Above all it is a safe haven where they can become better members of the community thanks to initiatives that teach them about sustainability and other world issues.
Currently, Ms. Savourn lives and works from the CDO devoting 24 hours a day to saving the children of Cambodia. Once a month she and a group of volunteers visit Leap Chass to cook a meal for the villagers, many of them parents of the students at CDO. She has also built several water wells in the village to provide them with clean water and sanitation, while offering regular health check-ups with the help of doctors who are brought to Cambodia through her international volunteer programme.
Ms. Savourn’s work doesn’t stop there. To date, the CDO is entirely self-funded although she works tirelessly to generate other sources of income with the help of volunteers including laundry services for visitors and teaching English to other students.
Saviour of a community on the verge of extinction
Dr. Prakash Baba Amte was destined to serve others. The son of renowned humanitarian, Murlidhar Devidas Amte, he grew up in an ashram and rehabilitation centre founded by his father for leprosy patients in Anandwan,Maharashtra. He later went on to become a social worker and doctor.
In 1974 Dr. Prakash and his wife Dr. Mandakini took over a project initiated by his father to help the Madia Gonds, a primitive community based in the forests of Eastern Maharashtra. Isolated from the rest of the world, the Madia lacked the basic necessities we take for granted including clothing, education and medical care. Malnutrition, disease and suffering were part of their everyday lives.
Although the conditions were daunting, Dr Prakash and his wife bravely volunteered to work among the Madia, swapping the comforts of home for a door-less hut with no electricity or water. Nearby they constructed a small cottage hospital where they would treat patients and perform lifesaving surgeries. Initially the community were suspicious of the newcomers, but it wasn’t long before the Amtes would earn their trust thanks to their unwavering guidance, care and support.
Four decades later and their project, known as Lok Biradari Prakalp, has evolved to include a hospital, residential school and orphanage for injured wild animals. The hospital and its four doctors (including Dr Prakash’s son) treat 40,000 patients a year free of charge while the school provides free education to over 600 students, among them the Madia’s first generation of doctors, lawyers, teachers, officials, office workers and police.
Some of the awards bestowed upon Dr. Prakash include The Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice in 2014 and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2008.
Dr. Burenjargal Bultuush -Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The End-Stage of life for a terminally-ill patient can be something extremely bitter and painful. Dr. Burenjargal Bultuush has experienced this pain when her terminally ill grandmother passed away. In 2003, she founded the Hope Hospice in order to provide specialized care for the terminally-ill. The Hope Hospice has treated over 4,000 terminally ill patients and has provided end-life nursing training to more than 80,000 family members. Dr. Bultuush strongly believes that palliative measures can improve the quality of life in the remaining time these people have on Earth.
Dr. Mekala Bharathi Jayaram – Lagos, Nigeria
Dr. Mekala Bharathi has been on a journey to help the poor of Nigeria for over 30 years. She treats all her patients free of charge so that people are able have the help they need and deserve. Dr. Bharathi visits public schools and provides free medical checkups to children periodically. She has organized a program which feeds 2,500 persons once a month at various homes for the destitute. Dr. Bharathi even organizes medical camps with the assistance of spiritual groups to further maintain the health and lives of the people around her.
Chung To – Greater China
In 2002, Chung To left his job as an investment banker and flew to the Henan province of China. There he witnessed the ravages of AIDS on children due to botched blood trades during the early 90’s. Inspired by this, Chung To started the Chi Heng Foundation to help the children impacted by AIDS. The program has helped over 18,000 children, many of which have been able to graduate from universities and other schools.
Here are two videos highlighting the amazing accomplishments of our finalists!
Narayanan Krishnan is the founding and managing trustee of Akshaya’s Helping in H.E.L.P trust in Madurai, India. An award winning chef, he established the trust whilst still a mere teenager after witnessing the extreme hunger and poverty in Madurai.
Akshaya is committed to helping the helpless, homeless, sick, elderly, mentally ill and destitute in Madurai by providing healthy food, care and opportunity to rehabilitate in order to restore human dignity.
Krishnan’s journey started in 2002 by simply providing food to the homeless on the streets using what little he had earned as a chef in salary and wages.
Krishnan soon realised that food itself was not enough to make a difference to the lives of the helpless and began to undertake larger holistic projects. He saved up and purchased land to build the Akshaya Home which accommodates up to five hundred residents.
Working up to 18 hour days, Krishnan is dedicated to his centre which provides food, shelter and bathing facilities to its residents who are usually either senior homeless people or mentally disabled. The centre also provides medical help and rehabilitation. Funded entirely through voluntary donations, Krishnan receives no salary nor do his fellow trustees. Every penny raised goes directly to helping the people.
Krishnan has been recognised by numerous bodies including CNN (Top 10 Heroes 2010). Such publicity has increased his capacity to serve others. To date, he has served almost two million meals.
Rosalind first volunteered for humanitarian missions as a teenager, travelling to Zambia, Jamaica and India on different projects to ameliorate the suffering of the sick and destitute. Raised as a Catholic, she developed a strong lifelong Christian ethos to help others.
A social worker by profession, her first position after graduation was to oversee a community school in Bangladesh before returning to her homeland to work with single homeless people.
In 1981, she became a Missionary social worker in a leprosy settlement in Nigeria. There she began to transform the Uzuakoli settlement over the next eight years. She soon became known as Nkechinyere or, simply, Nkechi (which means – ‘gift of God’).
Rosalind refused to live in the staff headquarters but instead lived with the lepers. She raised funds from supporters in the UK and began to rehabilitate and rebuild the centre. She sought to educate the local community about leprosy (a curable disease) and established vocational training including new farming methods in order to produce a sustainable food supply. Today there are no lepers in that part of Nigeria.
In 1989 she began to work with mentally ill destitutes and she successfully campaigned for land to build a centre winning the support of a number of Christian charities. She would then personally seek out mentally ill patients for the centre and recruited excellent volunteer staff. The centre’s mission was to rehabilitate and treat the mentally ill so they could return to the outside community.
In 2002, while in the UK, stricken down by serious illness and remaining in a coma for months, Rosalind was confined to a wheelchair. Yet, she decided to continue to live and work in Nigeria for the benefit of the people.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Scott Neeson spent over a quarter of a century working in Hollywood. He had it all but wasn’t happy. As a visitor one holiday, he saw the extreme poverty and sickness of the people scavenging in Phnom Penh. Children were working for less than one US dollar a day, unable to go to school because the money they earned was necessary for their family to survive.
Overwhelmed by the scale of this poverty, Scott set up the Cambodian Children’s Fund in 2004 with his own money. Soon, he quit his job, sold all his belongings and moved to Cambodia permanently to oversee the organization.
The organization, which started by providing 45 children with an education, now serves more than 1,700 impoverished children and thousands of other people within the community. Scott works tirelessly to ensure the poorest families in the slums of Phnom Penh receive the life-changing support they need to not only survive, but also thrive.
More than 1,800 children receive an education at CCF and thousands visit the free medical centre monthly. Scott oversees all of this and dozens of other programmes. However, he stills visits the slums most evenings to personally catch up with the families and see who needs help.
Scott, who speaks Khmer, sets up appointments and listens to the needs and concerns of community members on a daily basis. But it’s out in the villages that he’s most comfortable.
It’s a big lifestyle difference from Hollywood, but he’s happy now.
Here are two videos highlighting the amazing accomplishments of our finalists!
Christina Noble and Dr. Cynthia Maung
Enrico Sala and Valerie Ann Taylor
“She works ceaselessly to bring peace and joy to the impoverished children of Vietnam and Mongolia.”
Born in the slums of Dublin, Christina Noble’s traumatic childhood living on the streets and in an orphanage has embedded a desire in her to change the lives of children in need. In 1989 and 1997, she established the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation Social and Medical Centre in Vietnam and Mongolia respectively. To this day, these operating centres provide shelter, health care and quality education for over 600,000 underprivileged children and those at risk of commercial and sexual exploitation.
Christina fights everyday for the well being of these children, and was even physically beaten in Mongolia to coerce her into giving up her cause. Against such extraordinary odds, Christina holds firm to the fundamental values of love, respect and dignity. Her staunch dedication to protect children’s rights has struck Mia Farrow, an American UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, as she put it, “We see a human spirit of shining dignity, courage and resilience – it is not a surprise when she ultimately turns her life into a magnificent act of love and generosity.”.
How does Christina plan to use the award money
Christina Noble will use her prize to support the various programmes and sustainability of The Centre for Social Assistance for Disadvantaged Children, a core project of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation in Vietnam since 1991. The Centre provides nutritional care and early intervention of physiotherapy based rehabilitation for orphans and disadvantaged children. The centre can support up to forty full time ‘residential’ children in addition to fifty ‘nonresidential’ children. They also provide a vital public health service for up to 1000 community members each month through the free outpatient clinic in the centre. This outpatient clinic provides health examinations, medical treatment, pharmacy, nutritional supplements, family planning, and nutrition and health education to parents. Additionally, The Centre for Social Assistance for Disadvantaged Children provides education intervention for disabled children though the provision of special education classes.
“Serving the sick on the border of Thailand and Burma, Cynthia fights everyday to bring social justice to the marginalized people of Burma.”
Cynthia is a refugee from Burma who has been advocating the human rights of displaced people on the Thai-Burma Border. She founded the Mae Tao Clinic that provides 75,000 refugees and unregistered migrant workers from Burma with primary health care each year. She also leads the Child Protection Program which aims to educate and feed 3,000 underprivileged children.
Under her chairmanship, she also delivers primary health care to 206,000 people who reside in rural and war affected areas of Burma through the Back Pack Health Worker Team, which consists of 1,500 health workers. She also chairs the Committee for Protection and Promotion of Child Rights, which advocates the legal and social protection of stateless children on the border seeking Burmese citizenship. Cynthia works relentlessly to improve the lives of the Burmese people, both as a healer and a vocal activist for social change in Burma.
How does Cynthia plan to use the award money
Dr. Cynthia Maung plans to use her prize for two different programmes. First, she wishes to assist her partner organisations in Mae Sot by purchasing a piece of land on which they may function without risk of rising rent prices. As the area of Mae Sot becomes more developed, landlords are becoming pressured to raise rents or even sell their land as it becomes more valuable. Purchasing a piece of land will ensure long-term sustainability and connectivity for all of Dr. Maung’s pursuits in the area. Second, Dr. Maung will apply part of her prize money to improving the integration of her CDC School with the Thai Education System. Doing so will help assimilate the migrant Burmese children into Thai
society. The CDC School seeks to gain legal registration for migrant learning, which would enable it to seek additional support from the Thai Ministry of Education. By helping teachers gain their certifications and increasing the number of students enrolled, the CDC will make strides towards gaining registration and increasing their financial sustainability.
“Enrico has poured his heart and soul into the poor and needy of Cambodia. To see him work in such remote areas is truly an inspiration.”
Enrico Sala is a Swiss sculptor and philanthropist who has spent over US $2 million to improve the living conditions of remote villagers in Cambodia. After witnessing children drinking filthy water from a ditch on a sightseeing trip, Enrico has committed every moment of his life to improving the lives of the impoverished in Cambodia. By involving the government in his endeavours he believes his transparency can help influence the government to make truly lasting change.
Having built 29 schools and 10 libraries, 934 water wells & pump wells, 12 health centers and a hospital that serves over 50,000 villagers, Enrico’s unceasing contribution to the Cambodian people has truly been a miracle. Due to his heavy involvement with the manual labor of his initiatives, Enrico suffered a spinal injury that has left his leg partially paralysed. Despite this setback, Enrico continues to persevere in helping thousands of Cambodians every year.
How does Enrico plan to use the award money
Enrico plans to construct a brand new maternity hospital in Cambodia. The facilities will include delivery, examination and labor rooms as well as rooms dedicated to changing and recovery. The construction of the hospital is progressing rapidly as communication with medical staff and the clearing of the land is already underway. This hospital will provide mothers a chance to give birth in a clean, safe environment which is nearly impossible in existing centres. Enrico has developed a most prosperous relationship with the Cambodian governement during his tenure there. As a result, the government has provided the land for the hospital as well as all salary and education expenses for the
staff. Through the combined efforts of Enrico and the government, this wonderful new hospital will be a sustainable option for years to come.
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda – Philippines
Project: Visayan Forum Foundation and the Center of Hope
In the face of persecution and death threats, Cecilia has gone to extreme lengths to fight against human trafficking. As the founder of the Visayan Forum Foundation, she has been able to provide assistance to almost 80,000 victims of trafficking in the form of shelters, counseling, legal assistance, life skills, and IT training, just to name a few.
As a child, Cecilia experienced suffering in the form of poverty and vowed to give her children a better life than she once had. It wasn’t until hearing the personal experiences of the trafficking victims that she began to feel that her early struggles were minute in comparison to the sufferings that the women and children of trafficking experience on a daily basis.
The courage of their suffering inspired Cecilia to fight for these victims; to give them a voice and an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
Through the Visayan Forum Foundation and the Center of Hope, Cecilia seeks to empower the victims to put the past behind them, seek employment, reintegrate themselves into society, and experience healing.
Until the government takes full responsibility to put an end to human trafficking, Cecilia won’t give up.
With her prize money, Cecilia plans to further develop the Center of Hope to put women through life training while they are waiting for their cases to prosper in court. She will also use the money to assist these women in finding jobs so that they can be easily reintegrated into normal culture.
To learn more about Cecilia’s cause, and how you can help prevent human trafficking in the Philippines, please visit http://www.visayanforum.org
Humanitarian Cause: Medical care for the people of East Timor
Project: Bairo Pite Clinic
Dr. Dan Murphy hasn’t let violence, deportation or lack of funds stop him from providing much needed health services to the people of East Timor since his arrival in 1998. He acts as the primary health care provider at the Bairo Pite Clinic for everything from pregnancy and childbirth to tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. His philosophy is that we should “begin with the poorest of the poor,” and he is doing just that with the people of East Timor. In a place with high levels of poverty and severe lack of medical attention, East Timor has some of the worst infant mortality and morbidity statistics in the world. Dr. Dan has worked tirelessly to set up a free maternity clinic so that the mothers have a safe place for delivery, and the newborn infants have the opportunity for quality care right from the get go.
He is a ray of hope and of life to the people of East Timor. Because of his efforts, well over one million people have received medical attention that they would not otherwise have received.
If Dr. Dan will use his prize money to stock his clinics with updated medical equipment and medication. This will allow him and his team to treat even more serious ailments than they are currently able to. The award money would also help ensure that the people who come and seek his assistance are always guaranteed.
To learn more about Dr. Dan, his cause, and how you can help make a difference in East Timor, visit http://bairopiteclinic.org/.
Humanitarian Cause: Education for the children of the Bangkok slums
Project: Human Development Foundation-Mercy Centre
Known to many as “The father of Bangkok Slums” Father Joe has dedicated over 40 years of his life to improving the lives of the poor.
Through the establishment of the Human Development Foundation – Mercy Centre in 1972 he opened the first slum kindergarten to help those families who could not afford to give their children an education. Since then he has gone on to operate 22 kindergartens servicing over 50,000 slum children. In addition, he also has supported them through primary and secondary school as well as, college and university.
Believing that the best way to help these children is to ‘give them an opportunity’, Father Joe has taken his passion a step further and built six shelters to house over 200 abandoned and orphaned children providing them with the care and education they deserve. One of these shelters includes a special home for children born with HIV, children that no-one else will take care of.
Not only does his work help the children of the slums, Father Joe has also worked tirelessly to help their families by setting up a credit union for slum women to protect them from loan sharks who take advantage of their dire situation.
With his winnings, Father Joe will go even further to work hand-in-hand with the slum communities, families, NGO’s, local governments and schools to provide education for those children.
To learn more about Father Joe, the Mercy Centre, and how you can give back to the children of the Bangkok slums, please visit http://www.mercycentre.org/.
Humanitarian Cause: Health and Sustainability for Gujarat
Project: Shroffs Foundation
Shruti has always been motivated by her faith. She believes that “life is enriched not by how much money one has earned; but by how much one has spared for others.” Shruti has modeled her life on this philosophy. She has given much of her time, money, and efforts to support the tribal communities in Gujarat through the Shroffs Foundation Trust.
She has worked hard to provide a better life for 70% of the population that live well below the poverty line.
She provides everything from water and soil conservation programs, to sound agricultural systems, literacy courses, health and medical facilities and earthquake relief.
Shruti has witnessed significant progress in the tribal belt of Gujarat after 15 years. Agricultural and crop production have skyrocketed; average income has greatly increased; school attendance amongst children has strengthened; and an emphasis on adult literacy has been created.
With her prize money, Shruti will expand the programs that she has already helped put into action. She wants to empower the tribal inhabitants to seek change and improvement, and give them the opportunity to live a dignified life where their aspirations can be realized.
To learn more about Shruti, the Shroffs Foundation, and how you can make a difference to the lives of those in Gujarat, please visit http://www.shroffsfoundation.org/