KATHMANDU: Nepali social worker Pushpa Basnet‚ who supports children of inmates‚ has been named the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year. The 28-year-old was nominated for providing a refuge to children who were languishing inside the Nepali prisons along with their parents.
CNN announced the result from the Shrine Auditorium amid a gala event in Los Angeles‚ California on Sunday night.
“This is the victory of every Nepali‚" said Basnet to a gathering of spectators after she was named the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year.
According to CNN‚ Basnet receives $250‚000 to continue her work for being named Hero of the Year. All top 10 nominees will also receive a $50‚000 grant to continue their life-changing work.
This is the second time that a Nepali woman has bagged the prestigious international CNN Hero Award.
Anuradha Koirala--another Nepali social worker and a campaigner known for her anti-human trafficking drive through her non-profit making organisation Maiti Nepal--was honoured with the award in 2010.
Pushpa Basnet has founded the Butterfly Home‚ and the Early Childhood Development Center a day care programme for children under six and a residential home where mostly older children receive education‚ food‚ medical care and a chance to live a more normal life.
"It's not fair for (these) children to live in the prison because they haven't done anything wrong‚" CNN earlier had quoted Basnet as saying.
"My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls."
"The children must not be forced to live behind bars with their parents‚" said Basnet‚ who started her non-profit organisation Early Childhood Development Centre in 2005.
Currently‚ over 40 such children are living in her shelter‚ where she provides them with food‚ clothing‚ education‚ medicines and all other basic things.
Pushpa is giving shelter to children from prisons in Dhading‚ Pokhara‚ Jajarkot‚ Phidim‚ Birgunj and Nepalgunj.
Top 10 nominees in alphabetical order
Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that many children in Nepal have to live in prisons with their parents. In 2005‚ she started a children's center that has provided support‚ such as housing‚ education and medical care‚ to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents.
Wanda Butts lost her son in a drowning accident six years ago. In his memory‚ she started the Josh Project‚ a nonprofit that taught nearly 1‚200 children -- most of them minorities -- how to swim.
Mary Cortani is a former Army dog trainer who started Operation Freedom Paws‚ a nonprofit that helps war veterans train their own service dogs. Since 2010‚ she has worked with more than 80 veterans who have invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Catalina Escobar is helping young moms in Colombia‚ where one in five girls age 15-19 is or has been pregnant. Since 2002‚ her foundation has provided counseling‚ education and job training to more than 2‚000 teenage mothers.
Razia Jan is fighting to educate girls in rural Afghanistan‚ where terrorists will stop at nothing to keep them from learning. She and her team at the Zabuli Education Center are providing a free education to about 350 girls‚ many of whom wouldn't normally have access to school.
Thulani Madondo struggled as a child growing up in the slums of Kliptown‚ South Africa. Today‚ his Kliptown Youth Program provides school uniforms‚ tutoring‚ meals and activities to 400 children in the community.
In memory of his daughter who was killed by a drunken driver in 2007‚ Leo McCarthy started Mariah's Challenge. The nonprofit gives college scholarships to teenagers who pledge not to drink while they're underage. Nearly $150‚000 in scholarship money has been awarded.
Connie Siskowski is helping young people who have to take care of an ill‚ disabled or aging family member. Since 2006‚ her nonprofit has provided assistance to more than 550 young caregivers in Palm Beach County‚ Florida.
After beating his addiction to drugs and alcohol‚ Scott Strode found support through sports. Since 2007‚ his nonprofit‚ Phoenix Multisport‚ has provided free athletic activities and a sober support community to more than 6‚000 participants in Colorado.
Malya Villard-Appolon is a rape survivor dedicated to supporting victims of sexual violence in Haiti. In 2004‚ she co-founded KOFAVIV‚ an organization that has helped more than 4‚000 rape survivors find safety‚ psychological support and/or legal aid.
Celebrities taking part
The celebrities who took in this year's show included movie stars Susan Sarandon‚ Adrien Brody‚ Maria Bello‚ Viola Davis‚ Harvey Keitel and Josh Duhamel; athletes Jeff Gordon and Cullen Jones; and hip-hop artist 50 Cent.
Television stars Rainn Wilson ("The Office")‚ Rico Rodriguez ("Modern Family")‚ Jane Lynch ("Glee")‚ Miranda Cosgrove ("iCarly") and David Spade ("Rules of Engagement") also participated in the event.