L to R – Dr. Abraham Mathai, President – Harmony Foundation, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Honorable Judge at The International Court of Justice, Advocate Rizwan Merchant, Father Tom Uzhunnalil-min
Harmony Foundation’s 13th Annual Mother Teresa Memorial Awards was held on December 10th at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. The prestigious event that recognizes the humanitarian efforts of global citizens, was graced by eminent politicians, diplomats and film personalities who came out in strong support. The theme for this year was ‘Compassion Beyond Borders’ which highlighted the global refugee crisis. The evening honoured individuals and organizations who have been working relentlessly in helping refugees with food, shelter, education and other assistance.
The Harmony Foundation, initiated the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards in 2005 to felicitate people who seek peace and are torchbearers of social justice in a world that is in constant turmoil. The award ceremony is preceded by the Harmony International Conference – a platform where distinguished individuals speak on the Foundation’s theme of the year.
The Guests of Honour at the event included H.E. Mr. Sarwar Danish, The Vice President of Afghanistan; Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Hon’ble Judge at the International Court of Justice; Ms. Yasuko Shimizu, Chief of Missions at UNHCR; Shri Ashish Shelar, BJP President, Mumbai; Ms. Shazia Ilmi, National Spokesperson, BJP; Shri P.C. Thomas, Former Union Minister; Shri Mahesh Bhatt, Eminent Filmmaker and Shri Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
The awardees for the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards 2017 included UNHCR, Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, Hellenic Rescue Team, Shigeru Ban, Mercy Corps, A21, Bayat Foundation, Khalsa Aid, Caritas Internationalis, IsraAID, Zakat Foundation of India, and Priyanka Chopra.
The evening witnessed individuals who spoke about the global impact of the refugee crisis, the impressive work of the awardees, and the theme – compassion.
Dr. Abraham Mathai, President of the Harmony Foundation said, “At the Harmony Foundation, we aspire to keep hope and goodness alive. The Mother Teresa Memorial Awards are inspired by the Saint’s life and work, and we seek to honour those who take her flame of love and compassion to the darkest corners of the world. The global refugee crisis has collapsed many tottering economies and engulfed war-torn nations into an abyss of poverty. Innocent children have fallen victim to evil acts, and I feel civil society should come together to make their lives better. The heroes we recognize today are fighting this cause with courage and grit. I am positive that together, we can make a difference!
Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, a Patron of the event said, “I have been associated with the Harmony Foundation and the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for over a decade and half now. I hugely admire their passion to find real heroes that our world so desperately needs to cheer. Although the event is in Mumbai, its scope extends to the world over, with awardees from far-flung corners. It has a compassionate, global beating heart that carries forward Mother Teresa’s rich legacy just the way she would have liked. I am extremely proud to be here tonight and seeing the awardees gives me hope that our world is in good hands.”
Previous awardees have included H. H. The Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai, Sushmita Sen, Sudha Murthy, Late Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, Late Neerja Bhanot, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Nana Akufo-Addo (President of Ghana) and Baroness Caroline Cox.
Special guests at the event included respected diplomats such as H.E. Mr. Zainal Azlan Mohd Nadzir, Consul General of Malaysia; HE Mr. Mohamed Saleh Ahmed Alteneiji, Consul General of United Arab Emirates; Mr. Gul Kripalani, Honorary Consul General, Consulate of the Rep of Iceland; Mr. Ahmad Sadeghi, Acting Consul General of the Islamic Rep of Iran and Consul Nils Eliasson who represented H.E. Ms. Ulrika Sundberg, Consulate General of Sweden.
The evening concluded with the gathering raising a toast to the award winners and left hope amidst the audience that Mother Teresa’s light will guide the world to a better tomorrow.