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Former Catholic Priest Wins Megasaysay Award
New Delhi: A former Catholic priest who has spent decades serving the poor in a backward region of Tamil Nadu has won the prestigious Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Kulandei Francis is being recognized for "his visionary zeal, his profound faith in community energies, and his sustained programs in pursuing the holistic economic empowerment of thousands of women, said a statement from the Magsaysay Foundation.
Francis who works in Krishnagiri district is among six people chosen for this year’s award in various categories.
Francis’ Integrated Village Development Project (IVDP) helps rural women break the shackles of poverty by forming micro enterprises.
The 65-year-old started IVDP in 1979 after leaving the Holy Cross congregation.
The project helped establish self help groups that supported poverty-stricken women engage in group activities and start micro enterprises, create savings accounts, and secure reliable loans.
Through education and community activities, thousands of women have been able to help their families wriggle out of poverty.
At present there are over 8,000 self-help groups supported by IVDP across the three districts of Krishnagiri, Dharmpuri and Vellore.
Activists from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan have also been selected for the award.
President of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Carmencita Abella said the awardees are six remarkable individuals, all deeply involved in creating sustainable solutions to poverty.
"Working selflessly in unpretentious yet powerful ways, they are showing how commitment, competence, and collaborative leadership can truly transform millions of individual lives and galvanize progressive community action," Abella said.
The winners would be formally conferred the Award on August 31.
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