His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with Betty Williams (R), who received Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, as the Guest of Honour, at the inaugural function of the third Asian PeaceJam conference held in April last year at Tibetan Children Village (TCV), in Dharamsala. The first and second Asian PeaceJam were also held at TCV School in November 1999 and April/May 2001 respectively in apprenticeship with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exile head of the state and winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. (Phayul.com)
DENVER, August 10: A Nobel Peace Prize could be in the future for two Colorado residents who got the blessing of the Dalai Lama to start a youth-based peace movement that has enrolled hundreds of thousands.
Dawn Gifford Engle and husband Ivan Suvanjieff had grown up just a couple of miles (kilometers) apart but only met in the 1990s at Boulder's eclectic, Buddhist-based Naropa University, a haven for writers like Allen Ginsberg.
"Some people think our chances are very good because we were nominated by so many people. We prefer to think we have no choice at all so we can sleep at night," Engle said Thursday of their nomination by six Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter announced the nomination.
Engle and her husband both said they were humbled by the honor, especially that it was coming from their role models.
Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland wrote a letter of nomination saying "their work to inspire and mobilize the youth of the world to address the root causes of violence and suffering in our local communities" has "created a worldwide movement of young people working for social peace and justice.
In her letter, she added, "Their courage, conviction and hard work ... is having a concrete impact on the lives of people all over the world. It gives me great pleasure to introduce their work to you."
Engle and Suvanjieff met in the early 1990s at Naropa. He was an artist-punk rocker, she a former political employee and lobbyist for Tibet.
They hatched their unlikely plan with no funding source, and ran it by the Dalai Lama. They borrowed the money to pay to travel to India for the meeting. His approval launched their cause.
Now they want to inspire a billion people by the year 2016. Their more than 310,000 projects range from purifying water in a shantytown to reforestation and anti-gang projects.
The group also supports political causes including ending racism, promoting democracy and stopping the imprisonment of those who advocate it.
Their 150 meetings throughout the world, called congresses, have drawn more than 500,000. Their next congress is Sept. 12-14 in Costa Rica.
The other laureates who nominated the pair were Betty Williams of Ireland, Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
The six laureates who nominated Engle and Suvanjieff were among the dozen laureates who attended the 10th anniversary festival of the group last year in Denver, the largest collection of laureates ever to gather in the United States.
The winner of the peace prize will be announced in October.