Himalayan News Service
KATHMANDU: Anuradha Koirala, a crusader known for her anti-human trafficking drive through
her non-profit making organisation Maiti Nepal, has been named the 2010 CNN Hero
of the Year. This is the first time that a Nepali has bagged the prestigious international award.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper announced the result at the conclusion of the fourth-annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, from the Shrine Auditorium amid a gala event in Los Angeles, California, before an audience of nearly 5,000 today.
Anuradha Koirala was chosen by the public in an online poll that ran for eight weeks on CNN.com. Koirala was introduced by actress Demi Moore, who along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, created DNA, The Demi and Ashton Foundation, which aims to eliminate child sex slavery worldwide.
“Every day this woman confronts the worst of what humanity has to offer,” Moore said of Koirala.
Koirala’s Maiti Nepal is best known for its mission to curb women trafficking from Nepal to the sex industries abroad, and the rescue and rehabilitation of over 12,000 victims since 1993.
“This is the victory of every single Nepali and all those fighting for the cause. This award is something more than personal,” she told The Himalayan Times. “The honour has made us more responsible to overcome a shared concern of trafficking in humans. We should not wait for tomorrow what we can do today. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all who always supported me.”
Back home, premises of Maiti Nepal was lit up and fireworks were played. More than 150 women and children participated in the ceremony. Anita Syangtan (17), a ninth grader of Teresa Academy being run by Maiti Nepal, said, “We are all proud of you, Anuradha didi. Keep up the good work. Nepal needs more people like you so that children like me are not deprived of the privilege of education.” The girl, once a victim of domestic violence, was rescued by Maiti Nepal five years ago.
Manju Baniya (16) sheltering in Maiti Nepal was a bundle of joy on hearing the news. “But for Anuradha didi, we would have been compelled to live a life of misery. She did for us what our kin did not,” claimed Baniya.
A wave of euphoria swept through the country as Anuradha was named for the award. Bhuwan KC, a noted Nepali cine star who joined a promotional campaign to get his fans vote online for Anuradha, expressed a sense of happiness and relief with the announcement.
“She really deserves it. The award, I hope, will inspire her to do more in saving thousands of Nepali women and children from being trafficked to foreign soils,” remarked KC, who enjoys mass following. Jeevan Gurung, who voted for Anuradha 53 times, said,
“Anuradha is the right choice for the award, as she helped 12,000 girls.”
Sapana Pradhan Malla, a lawmaker and human rights lawyer, termed it as an international recognition to a Nepali-led drive against heinous crimes like trafficking in human.
Congratulatory notes also poured in for her via internet. Astha commented on cnn.com, “So proud of you being a Nepali! Thanks for your efforts and hard work to save the innocent souls.”
The top 10 CNN Heroes, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from an initial pool of more than 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries, were each honoured with a documentary tribute and introduced by a celebrity presenter. The programme also featured performances by Grammy Award-winners Bon Jovi, John Legend and Sugarland.
Anuradha will receive $100,000 to continue her work with Maiti Nepal, in addition to the $25,000 awarded to each of the top 10 Heroes honoured.