Awardees for the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for Social Justice (MTMA) were announced this week. An initiative by Harmony Foundation and endorsed by Missionaries of Charities, this year, the award recognises the exemplary work done in various fields and issues related to modern-day slavery.
Currently in its 15th year, previous awardees include Nobel laureates like Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai, Tawakkol Karman, state leaders and prominent activists including current Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo; Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohamad; former Deputy Speaker of the United Kingdom's House of Lords, Baroness Caroline Cox and aid groups like Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders).
Every year, Harmony Foundation focuses on a theme, which for 2019 is 'Combating Contemporary Forms of Slavery'. It is a sad reality that affects millions across the globe. It includes child labour, bonded labour, human trafficking, organ trafficking, and child militants.
The statistics on this subject are terrifying with:
* 40.3 million people being direct victims of contemporary forms of slavery and 71 per cent of these victims are women and children.
* Population wise, India has the largest population of contemporary slaves in the world
Harmony Foundation has taken this initiative to recognise individuals and organizations engaged in the campaign to initiate practical ways to eradicate this evil.
To further our drive nationally and globally, it is our great pleasure to host these unsung heroes who continue to strive for the campaign towards attaining Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals set up by the United Nations General Assembly.
The awardees this year are:
* Kailash Satyarthi - For the fight against child labour and trafficking in India and South East Asia
* Ajeet Singh - For his efforts in creating the first red-light free area from the commercial sexual exploitation of minors in India
* DAFOH, USA - For their decades of efforts in raising awareness and sensitising both the medical community as well as the civil society about unethical organ harvesting, especially in China
* Free A Girl - For uniquely re-integrating former sex-workers into civil society by training them into becoming future advocates.
* JEEVIKA - For freeing over 30,000 bonded labourers and earnestly committing to complete eradication of the practice in Karnataka
* Junior Nzita Nsuami - For spearheading the international campaign through the United Nations against the use of child soldiers in war
* Rob Williams - For persistently protecting and supporting children in armed conflicts is some of the most hostile regions in the world
* Alezandra Russell - For being the only one who stood behind the overlooked and ignored young boys in the red-light districts of Thailand
* Hasina Kharbhih - For rescuing and empowering more than 72,000 vulnerable victims from the fate of trafficking
* Office for the rescue of Yazidis - For weaving through one of the most hostile regions worldwide and pledging to rescue all the vulnerable Yazidi women and girls from the evil clutches of ISIS
* PRERANA - For their holistic approach in their attempts to abolish intergenerational prostitution.
* Robert Bilheimer - For using his skills as a filmmaker to spread awareness about the existence of contemporary forms of slavery and inspiring the fight against it
"Slavery is a man-made curse on humanity and affects us all. To highlight this issue, we are honouring the crusaders who have immensely contributed to rescuing those that are tricked, trapped and trafficked", stated Dr Abraham Mathai, Founder, and Chairman of the Harmony Foundation.
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