Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice 2022 on “Compassion for Refugee Children”
Harmony Foundation also celebrated India’s legacy of hosting and giving refuge to millions of refugees from different countries over centuries
December 21: The Harmony Foundation hosted the prestigious Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for Social Justice 2022 on 18th December 2022 at Green Technology Auditorium, University of Mumbai, Santacruz East, Mumbai. On 17th December 2022, there was a successful Harmony International Student’s Conference that sensitised students from different colleges and universities in Mumbai on the plight of refugee children.
Each year, the Harmony Foundation identifies a theme that highlights the urgent needs affecting humanity worldwide for its Mother Teresa Memorial Award. In the 18th year of the award the Harmony Foundation felicitated global changemakers and icons of compassion who have gone above and beyond in the support and care of refugees particularly refugee children.
In addition to celebrating the transforming work of recipients of the Mother Teresa Memorial Award, the Harmony Foundation also celebrated India’s monumental legacy of hosting and giving refuge to millions of refugees from different countries over centuries. Dr.Abraham Mathai (Founder-Chairman, Harmony Foundation) asserted and brought to light India’s role as one of the most compassionate and benevolent nations in the world when it comes to the cause of refugees. Whether it is the Jews, the Sindhis from Pakistan, the Tibetans from Tibet, the Parsis from Iran, the Sri Lankan Tamils from Jaffna, the Bangladeshi refugees from Bangladesh, or the 22,000 Afghan refugees from Afghanistan currently in New Delhi all have seen India over the years as a beacon of hope and support when they faced a crisis in their homeland. “India has consistently extended a helping hand to refugees despite its own difficulties, as well as its cultural and religious diversity. How much more can the Western nations do with their sparse populations and abundant resources for the refugee population if India, can accomplish this despite its limited resources and an over-sized population of 1.4 billion?”said Dr.Mathai. Therefore, this year, through the awards,the Harmony Foundation acknowledged India’s monumental achievements and legacy in helping refugees over the years which is an impeccable inspiration for the world to follow the path of compassion and kindness for the world’s marginalised sections like the refugee children.
The Harmony Foundation has been proud to acknowledge the diversity of individuals from various walks of life, who are no less than the warrior-visionaries of our times and have diligently worked towards the betterment of our society. This year phenomenal individuals, and organisations who have carried forth monumental work in helping Refugee Children, were felicitated. The awards were presented by Ms.Shazia Ilmi, National Spokesperson of BJP amongst others.
The notable awardees who were felicitated with the award among others were:
- Education Cannot Wait (ECW), United Nations billion-dollar fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises was felicitated for their tireless, incredible work that endeavours to deliver quality education for crisis-affected children worldwide. On behalf of ECW, Ms.Yasmine Sherif from UNICEF, Director of Education Cannot Wait received the award.
- Still I Rise was awarded in recognition of their phenomenal mission of providing world-class education for underage refugees to enable them to have access to multiple career options in all universities despite their disadvantaged situations and conditions. The award was received by Mr.Nicolo Govoni (CEO, Still I Rise), on behalf of the organisation.
- BOSCO Organization for Social Concern and Operation was awarded in recognition of their phenomenal work in the support and care of refugee children through their project on refugee assistance in collaboration with the UNHCR in New Delhi. On behalf of BOSCO, Fr. Biju Akkilettu, Director at BOSCO received the award.
- Humanitarian Aid International was awarded in recognition of their commitment to assisting Pakistani Hindu refugees and working for their holistic development in the areas of education, health, livelihood, basic amenities, and legal assistance. On behalf of them, Mr.Sudhanshu Shekhar Singh founder and CEO of Humanitarian Aid International received the award.
- SPARK was awarded in recognition of their tremendous work of equipping refugee youth and women with relevant skills to make them resourceful and productive with the ability to transform their war-torn nations. On behalf of them, Mr.Yannick Du Pont, CEO of SPARK received the award.
- RefuSHE was awarded in recognition of their exceptional work in protecting and empowering refugee girls, young women, and children in Kenya by providing a nurturing environment and a holistic model in which they can attain their full potential.
- Taban Shoresh was awarded in recognition of her extraordinary humanitarian endeavours for establishing the Lotus Flower, which provides a safe and healing environment for women and girls who have survived the conflict in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq.
- Malish James was awarded for his unwavering and dedicated efforts being a refugee himself in empowering refugee children and youth in camps through the power of storytelling.
- S.C.Chandrahasan was awarded in recognition of his extraordinary vision and efforts to serve his people through humanitarianism and peace building by establishing OfERR for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India.
- Blesson Vargis was awarded in recognition of his humanitarian efforts in rescuing and assisting Afghani and Ukrainian refugee children.
In view of the theme of the award this year, the Harmony Foundation also announced the “Child to Child Connect” initiative in association with IIT, Mumbai. The initiative aims to create a mobile application that connects refugee children with other children all over the world, not only to raise awareness about refugee children and their plight, but also to connect them as friends. The “Child to Child Connect” initiative, therefore, envisions supporting the psychological and mental well-being of these children by connecting them with other children globally. We live in a fast-paced, changing world where materialistic pursuits and illustrious careers are given primacy. Children in today’s day and age are a part of this demanding world that places immense importance on competition and eminent careers for a materialistic, fulfilling life. But we truly believe that as these children progress in their careers, they should also connect with such underprivileged and unfortunate children and grow together in solidarity while creating a much better and more compassionate world.
The Harmony Foundation salutes the incredible work of our recipients across the world who have gone that extra mile to help refugee children, and have laid the foundations of empathy for one and all.