‘Selfless acts for the common good’

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF RAMON MAGSAYSAY AWARDS gary Bencheghib (anti-plastic warrior) and Filipino pediatrician Bernadette Madrid (children’s right crusader).

September 10, 2022

Creating a wide range of social responsibility and instilling “selfless acts,” a children’s rights advocate, an environmental warrior, an ophthalmologist, and a mental health activist won the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

“This year’s roster of Magsaysay Awardees have all challenged the invisible societal lines that cause separation and have drawn innovative and inspiring ones that build connections,” said Aurelio R. Montinola III, chairperson of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation.

Widely regarded as the “Nobel Peace Prize of Asia,” the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Awards chose individuals who performed ‘selfless acts for the common good.”

Bernadette J. Madrid, a Filipino doctor and child rights activist, was commended for “her competence and compassion in devoting herself to seeing that every abused child lives in a healing, safe and nurturing society.”

She established a foundation for child protection and improving more developed women-and-child protection units in the Philippines.

Sotheara Chhim — a 54-year-old Cambodian psychiatrist who is a mental health advocate and has become a leading voice in helping the victims of the Khmer Roughe genocide — was described by the awards ceremony as having a “calm courage in surmounting deep trauma to become his people’s healer.”

Chhim dedicates his life to creating a safe space for those suffering from baksbat or “broken courage,” a syndrome recognized in Cambodia.

Cataract is prevalent in Vietnam, which also lacks treatment facilities, equipment and specialists. But Tadashi Hattori, a Japanese ophthalmologist, committed himself to give free eye treatment to those who can’t afford and donate necessary equipment and supplies to local hospitals.

RMAF said that Hattori’s, “compassion in restoring the gift of sight to tens of thousands of people not his own; and the inspiration he has given, by his shining example, that one person can make a difference in helping kindness flourish in the world.”

“Anti-plastic warrior” Gary Bencheghib, an Indonesia-based French filmmaker and environmentalist, put his life on the line to save one of the polluted rivers in the world, the Citarum River.

Bencheghib has a “risk-taking passion that is truly a shining example for the youth and the world.”

“The extraordinary work of the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees is testament to the borderless and limitless possibilities of greatness of spirit. This year’s Magsaysay laureates allow us Asians to be prouder of our identity and heritage,” said Susan B. Afan, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation.

Established in 1958, the award celebrates the leadership of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay through the recognition of individuals or organizations in Asia performing “selfless service,” which is a core trait of Magsaysay.

A formal awards presentation ceremony will be held on 30 November at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.

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