Every year the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards and the Harmony Foundation honour Indian or International organisations or individuals in the field of social justice.
This is the only award named for Mother Teresa and endorsed by the Missionaries of Charity. This year was the fifteenth anniversary of this initiative and the theme chosen was ‘Combating Contemporary Forms of Slavery.
From organ trafficking to sex slavery, the types of human trafficking plaguing the whole world were highlighted during the ceremony.
Women and children victims
Contemporary forms of slavery include child labor and exploitation, sexual exploitation and slavery, bonded labor, organ trafficking and harvesting and children forced into active combat. Experts claim 40.3 million people being direct victims of contemporary forms of slavery and 71 percent of these victims are women and children.
This year’s winners included Ajeet Singh, the founder of Guria who has spearheaded the fight to combat sexual exploitation of women and children in India; Alezandra Russell, the founder of Urban Light, seeks to rehabilitate boys and men who have been victims of trafficking and exploitation in Thailand; Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, which seeks to uphold ethical practices in medicine and its fight against organ trafficking; Free A Girl, which works to help train female lawyers in Asia and Latin America, and is dedicated to fighting sexual slavery; and Hasina Kharbhih, the founder of Impulse NGO Network, which seeks to train women to entrepreneurs as a means of preventing human trafficking in South Asia.
Also honored were Jeevika, an organization working to end bonded labor in the southwestern India state of Karnataka; Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel Prize-winning founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, who has campaigned against child labor and advocating for the universal right to education in India; the Office for the Rescue of Yazidis, which has rescued over 3500 Yazidi women and children from the Islamic State group; Prerana, an NGO that operates in the red-light districts of Mumbai to protect children vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking; and Rob Williams, the CEO of War Child UK which fights to end child soldiers.
Reem Abdullah Al Falasi, the Secretary General of the United Arab Emirates’ Security for Motherhood and Childhood was the event’s Guest of Honor.
“I am happy to note that we all are engaged in creating harmonious, tolerant and humane societies in a world where the illogic of disharmony and disunity seem to prevail,” she said.
She said there was no better way to honor the name of Mother Teresa than the “noble mission of extending a hand of support to the most vulnerable and the neediest.”