By Gelek Yakar
Milan, Italy, May 30 – Jetsun Pema, former minister in the Tibetan cabinet and the former president of the Tibetan Children’s Villages has been honoured in Milan, Italy, with “the Human Rights Hero Award 2010” on May 27 for her contributions to the upbringing of the Tibetan children.
At a presentation ceremony held at the Grand Hotel Villa Torretta, Jestun Pema or ‘Amala’ as she is widely known accepted the award that is given out by an Italian NGO "Associazione per i Diritti Umani e la Tolleranza" (Association for Human Rights and Tolerance).
Jetsun Pema has worked for the plight of Tibetan refugee children for 42 years. As a student spending vacation in Dharamshala, Jetsun Pema would help her sister Tsering Dolma in taking care of the children of displaced Tibetans working at road construction sites. 'Bhusokhang' (Nursery) as it was then called had only 51 students in 1960, the year of its inception. Today, it has grown into one of the largest residential schools in India.
Youngest among the three sisters of the Dalai Lama, Jetsun Pema is a former kalon (minister in the Kashag or the Tibetan cabinet) and the first woman ever to achieve it.
Mrs Fiorella Cerchiara, the president of the Association for Human Rights and Tolerance, presented the award in the presence of the president of the Milan City Council, Hon. Manfredi Palmeri. Cerchiara said it was an inspiration to be in the presence of Jetsun Pema la. “Mrs Pema is an extraordinary international example of someone who has a deep respect for human rights and it is a tremendous honour for us to have her amidst us.”
"This award is a true inspiration for the whole humanity and particularly to us living in exile. Our brave brethren in Tibet are still undergoing great hardship; I humbly accept it in their name and in their honour," said Jetsun Pema in her acceptance speech. Jetsun Pema was awarded the 'World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC)' in Sweden in 2006.
Local Tibetans from Milan performed a cultural dance at the event. Ms Chungdak Koren, former representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Geneva and Tharshul Tulku Rinpoche of Sera Monastery were also present at the award ceremony.
Former winners in of the award include Argentinean soccer star Javier Zanetti, Brazilian soccer star Marcos Cafu, Italian soccer star Gennaro Gattuso, Dr Daria Pesce, Dr Gianfranco Rossi, Ms. Boronessa Maria Lucia Soares, Dr Luca Lo Presti and Alberto Fortis. edited by Kalsang Rinchen