2017 Award Winner
Educating and caring for children in Hyderabad, India
Shobha Rani’s noble journey began with a girl she and her husband found living on the roadside. Unable to turn away, they took her in and raised her as their own. Saving one led to saving all, and Shobha, along with husband Uttam Kumar founded Spandana Society: a shelter and school for abandoned children in Hyderabad, India.
Shobha co-founded Spandana with only one goal in mind: to offer each student a happy and healthy childhood and teach them to be good, responsible members of their communities. The enormous task of raising children is difficult but fulfilling work; most arrive completely illiterate and rowdy, used to their lives of stealing from and beating others. However, under her care, she’s seen the very same children transform into loving, genuine and hardworking individuals with immense potential to become the leaders and change-makers of tomorrow.
Shedding the children from their traumatic past and releasing them from its effects is a daily challenge. Shobha, an experienced social work professional, has tailored Spandana’s treatment to include psychological therapy as well as a curriculum that prioritizes moral education. She investigates each child’s individual history to develop their own holistic program and teaches them to be tolerant and accepting of all creeds and orientations. The result is a rare and inspiring pay-it-forward effect, where children coming from desperate conditions leave armed with a strong sense of ethics and become agents of change themselves.
Today, Spandana Society is home to over 70 students. Shobha’s work has also won over the surrounding communities, in particular youths who volunteer to teach photography, play music and provide lesson plans at Spandana, and help arrange donation drives around Hyderabad.
Winner of THE ONE International Humanitarian Award 2017
2016 Award Winner
Dr. Rajendra Dhamane
A caretaker for the destitute and abused
In Ahmednagar India, thousands of mentally ill and homeless women are left wandering the streets to fend for themselves. Many have been abandoned by their families or abused emotionally and physically. Dr. Rajendra Dhamane and his wife Sucheta work tirelessly to give them a second chance at a happy and normal life.
The Dhamanes established Mauli Seva Pratishthan (MSP), a non profit organisation in 1998, to provide love, affection and care for the destitute women of Ahmednagar (Mauli means mother in the local language). Many of these women, irrespective of their caste or religion, are taken in by the couple from the streets and given a safe heaven in which to live. Each and every one of their needs is attended to from food and shelter to counselling and medical care. More importantly the Dhamanes provide life long care for their children, many of whom are born at the shelter.
In order to raise awareness and educate the community about the plight of these women, Dr. Dhamane frequently hosts lectures and talks at various social institutes throughout the region. More recently he produced and directed a short film called JANAA based on the story of one of their patients. It was selected and screened at various film festivals in France and India.
Currently the Dhamanes care for 100 women and 15 children, whom they are raising to become honest and respectable citizens of society. To date the MSP is entirely funded by public donations with no support from the government. Dr. Rajendra has plans to build a new shelter to house over 500 women and provide 100 hospital beds for those critically ill or dying.
Dr. Rajendra Dhamane
Winner of THE ONE International Humanitarian Award 2016
2015 Award Winner
Sindhutai was born in a rural village in the Wardha district of Maharashtra where many women are left uneducated. Sindhutai’s father secretly sent her to school up until the fourth grade after which she was married, at the age of 19 to a 30-year-old cow herder from a nearby village. She was made to live in a shed, where she gave birth to her daughter, Mamata. Poverty-stricken, she was forced to beg on the streets to survive.
As she wandered through the streets she became immersed in the pain of others, particularly orphans and women like herself. It was then that she decided she would fight to improve their lives. She made it her mission to raise enough money to build and run six shelter homes for the destitute women and orphans of Maharashtra.
Today Sindhutai resides at the shelter, dedicating her life to providing shelter, food, education, protection and most importantly a future for the destitute who fondly refer to her as ‘Mai’ (mother). Over the years she has nurtured over 1,050 orphaned children, all of which she has adopted as her own, and now has a grand family of 207 son-in-laws, 36 daughter-in-laws, and more than 1,000 grandchildren.
Even with no steady income to speak of, Sindhutai still puts every ounce of her being to make sure her ‘family’ continues to thrive.
2014 Award Winner
On a heartwarming and uplifting night in the lively city of Hong Kong, filled with touching stories, entertainment and charity, THE ONE 2014 – Barbara Hofmann, was announced on June 12th at the award’s third Gala Dinner held at Holiday Golden Mile. 400 of Hong Kong’s socialites, celebrities, decision makers and entrepreneurs came to honour the four finalists selected for the award.
Setting the scene for an unforgettable evening the finalists were flown in from all corners of the globe including Narayanan Krishnan from Madurai, India; Rosalind Colwill from Nigeria, Africa (who was unable to make it to Hong Kong for the evening); Scott Neesonwho works extensively in Cambodia; and Barbara Hofmann whose cause is in Mozambique, Africa.
Our very own Rotary International President, Gary Huang also made a guest appearance to the event. In his keynote speech, he encouraged guests to follow the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” and emphasized the importance of a shared passion for service to overcome the world’s toughest challenges.
Donations continued throughout the evening with several generous individuals making personal donations to each of the finalists and to THE ONE Foundation. All proceeds raised will go directly towards THE ONE Award prize money for 2015 onward, as well as towards an Emergency Fund for past finalists/winners who may need further help.
THE ONE Committee’s recent formation of a US$100,000 Emergency fund will, on a case by case basis, be used to help any one of the selected finalists over the years. This emergency fund was developed as a result of our experiences in which our finalists have written to us for assistance after they have used up their funds. These additional funds will be used to help them in the case of emergencies to ensure that they can continue helping individuals in need.
We are proud to dedicate THE ONE 2014 award of $100,000 USD to Barbara Hofmann, known to many thousands of children in Mozambique as “Mama,” who devoted her life to the children of war-torn Mozambique by founding the ASEM – Association Pour Les Enfants de Mozambqiue- in 1991. Her mission involves working directly to help the marginalized children and youth of Mozambique and investing in ways to improve and empower these children towards a better tomorrow. ASEM has transformed the lives of up to 15,000 children in its first 16 years; through its health, hunger and literacy programmes operated from ASEM’s children’s centres and schools.
Barbara Karoline Hofmann
Barbara’s mission is one that is very clear. She works to directly help the marginalized children and youth of Mozambique, while investing in ways to improve and empower these children towards a better tomorrow.
After studying and working in international business and finance, Barbara Hoffman one day found herself in Beira, Mozambique. After thirty years of warfare, she saw for herself the sad and tragic reality of conflict and decided to devote her life to the children of Mozambique by founding ASEM (Association Pour Les Enfants de Mozambique) and living amongst its people as an advocate of hope.
Due to the constant occurrence of war and drought, Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. Approximately 50% of the country’s population are children up to the age of 14, of which a significant number end up living outside of their family because of the blight of poverty.
ASEM has transformed the lives of up to 15,000 children in its first 16 years of establishment; through its health, hunger and literacy programmes operated from ASEM’s children’s centres and schools. Many of the staff are former boys hosted at the centres, energised and inspired to become an active part of the organization; to give the same opportunities they received to other children in need.
Despite serious illness, Barbara has led the organisation working with her staff and with government but most of all with the children.
Barbara has received many honours over the years including The “Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Mérite” from French President Jacques Chirac.
To the world she may be known as Barbara, but to many thousands of children in Mozambique, she is simply called “Mama”.
2013 Award Winner
Valerie Ann Taylor
The United Kingdom
A physiotherapist and humanitarian, Valerie Ann Taylor has given over 43 years of selfless sacrifice to the poor and the disabled of Bangladesh. She has always seen the humanity in the disabled and believes that the rehabilitation of these victims is paramount.
In 1959, when Bangladesh was still known as East Pakistan, Valerie worked as a physiotherapist of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the Christian Hospital with Voluntary Service Overseas.
In 1973 she returned to England to raise funds for establishing a much needed rehabilitation centre for paralysed people – The Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed – which began operation in 1979.
Valerie’s vision was to see her patients return home and lead a life of self-sustainability and relative normalcy. She has been overseeing and coordinating most of the work of CRP and endeavours to provide the poor with free medical care, subsidized treatment, and holistic rehabilitation.
To meet the tremendous need, service centres will be constructed in all seven divisions of Bangladesh. Employing over 700 staff who share in the belief that, “we are all in this together,” the CRP also works to reduce accidents and strives to create ready access for the disabled. Schooling and vocational training are designed to help in the rehabilitation of patients and create a better quality of life.
The Bangladesh Health Professions Institute is an academic extension of CRP that serves to train qualified medical personnel, including radiographers and occupational therapists, which are essential to the recovery of the paralysed.
The number of local and foreign volunteer workers at CRP has multiplied over the years, thereby promoting good will and enhanced mutual understanding and friendship between nations.
Valerie is also the legal guardian of two abandoned Bangladeshi girls who have been confined to wheelchairs due to their injuries. One of the girls, who is now independent after being in the care of Valerie, has opened her home to a destitute young mother and her disabled child.
Entering her 70’s, Valerie never thinks of her personal interests or about retiring. She has dedicated her life unreservedly to her cause, and her life-long dedication to service has earned her much respect and recognition.
How does Valerie plan to use the award money
Valerie Ann Taylor would use her award money for the following good causes:
1. She will build a new and permanent hostel building for our disabled school going children at CRP. This will be necessitated because the location of the present single storied temporary building (which has a tin roof) is required as the site for a new international students multi storied accommodation building.
2. She will also build an additional hostel accommodation for those patients undergoing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech & language therapy, provision of wheeled mobility aids and artificial limbs and orthoses at CRP-Savar.
3. The rest of the money would be used to support the work of the Spinal Cord Injury Development Association in Bangladesh (SCIDAB). It is a partner organisation of CRP and employs one project officer, Mr Anwar Hossain, who is a wheelchair user. They have previously received “seed money” in order to set up the organisation and have been waiting for registration from the Government of Bangladesh to enable them to apply for funding independently.
THE ONE 2012 – Valerie Browning
Humanitarian Cause: Health and Betterment of the Afar Nomads
Project: Anglican Overseas Aid-Anglicord
“Valerie dedicates her life to improve the livelihood of a million nomads – the Afar people who are living in North Eastern Ethiopia. The Afar peopl live in probably one of the hottest inhabited places on earth and have experienced 7 recurrent droughts, which in turn have reduced their supply and access to food and water.
“Valerie or Maalika as she is called, is the one who was sent as an angel to right the injustices that the Afar nomads face. The Afar people were left to fend for themselves till Valerie decided to make their problems, her problems. She put resources together to increase their water supply by helping build countless rainwater cisterns, dams and hand wells to catch God given rain.
“To maximize food supply she helped to ensure that animals were vaccinated and safe. To reduce maternal and new born mortality she set up a team of health workers, pastoralists, community teachers and primary health workers whose job was to ensure that nomadic mothers experienced a clean and healthy delivery.
With her winnings from THE ONE, Valerie wants to establish a system of trained workers to ensure safer Motherhood in 2 of the 8 Districts she is unable to service yet. She wants to turn things around by providing a primary health system for mothers and new born children.
As nurse Rowena Parker puts it, “She’ll give everything to the point where she has nothing left.”
To learn more about Valerie, the Afar people, and the ways that you can make a difference to the Afar Nomads, please visit http://www.anglicord.org.au/
Valerie Browning Wins Inaugural Year of THE ONE Award 2011-2012
On the night of THE ONE Gala Dinner 2012, Valerie Browning along with the entire audience made a heartwarming pledge to commit themselves to the Afar nomads in Valerie’s acceptance speech, “That the Afar people of the horn of Africa, not me, were chosen, I thank you because I think that the rest of the world wants to wipe them off, and I think you are going to help me keep them here in the world”.
After soaking in the victory and carefully analyzing how to best use her US$100,000 cash prize money to better the lives of the Afar people, Valerie has updated us with her specific plans. Valerie, along with the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), has determined the five different areas that they will use the money for.
Valerie will use the money to train traditional birth attendants in the Dawwe and Talalak regions. Doing so will hopefully create enough skilled attendants to establish a waiting center for mothers who are at a high risk of birthing problems. Having this center will help decrease the mortality rate for mothers who have recently given birth.
Valerie also wants to purchase 500 solar-powered torches for the traditional birth attendants to use so that they are guaranteed to have stable, reliable lighting whilst in the delivery room.
Valerie, along with APDA, will use some of the money to train a larger number of midwives who work in the emergency obstetrics hospital for mothers at risk, once again helping to decrease the mortality rate for mothers who have recently given birth.
Furthermore, Valerie will provide vocational training for women so that they may gain household security and decrease the risk factor during their pregnancy.
Lastly, Valerie will use the remaining money as a security fund, on hold for emergencies.
We are so proud of everything that Valerie has done for the Afar people, and we cannot wait to see her continue to succeed in keeping them on this Earth.