Magsaysay awards go to people who improved Asian societies
The names of the awardees of Asia’s “Nobel Prizes” released. “"They have shown moral courage and impassioned insistence on making the societies that they serve better, kinder, and more equitable for everyone, especially for the marginalized," said Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation president.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – “All are unafraid to take on large causes. All have refused to give up despite meagre resources, daunting adversity and strong opposition,” said Carmencita Abella, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, about this year’s award laureates.
The awards, named after a president of the Philippines who died in a 1957 plane crash, are to be presented in Manila on 31 August.
Abella notes that this year's winners have played a key role in promoting causes that enhance life and transform Asian societies.
"They have shown moral courage and impassioned insistence on making the societies that they serve better, kinder, and more equitable for everyone, especially for the marginalized," she said.
"The awardees offer us inspiring examples of vision, leadership, persistence and success," Abella added.
The winners come from all over Asia. One is from Cambodia, Youk Chhang, who lost his father, five siblings and nearly sixty relatives during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s.
Although he managed to escape to the United States, he later went home where he helped document the violence suffered by his people and testified in the Khmer Rouge war crimes trials.
Youk has collected more than a million documents, created digital maps of over 23,000 mass graves. At present, he is involved in a museum, library, archives and a graduate programme on crimes against humanity.
Bharat Vatwani is an Indian psychiatrist. He began his mission in 1988. In recent years he has treated and reintegrated 7,000 street people suffering from mental illness.
Another awardee from India is Sonam Wangchuk. Born in Ladakh, a mountainous region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, he has fought discrimination against minorities at a young age to pursue an engineering course and founded a movement in 1988 that helped tutor poor village students so they could pass exams and pursued educational reforms.
Vo Yhi Hoang Yen, from Vietnam, contracted polio when she was two years old. In 2005, she helped set up a non-profit company that has helped 15,000 people with disabilities get a job. One of her projects involves a motorcycle taxi service designed for the disabled.
From Timor Leste (East Timor), Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz has led efforts to help the poor get access to health care, education, farming and livelihood during her country’s difficult transition to independence in 2001.