She started a home in Kathmandu where children can receive education, food, medical care and a chance to live a more normal life. She also runs a day care program for children who are too young to be separated from their parent.
For being named CNN Hero of the Year, Basnet receives $250,000 to continue her work. That is in addition to the $50,000 that each of the top 10 Heroes are receiving.
This is the second time that a Nepali woman has bagged the prestigious international CNN Hero Award.
Anuradha Koirala- another Nepali social worker and a campaigner known for her anti-human trafficking drive through her non-profit making organisation Maiti Nepal –was honoured with the same award in the year 2010.
CNN announced the result from the Shrine Auditorium amid a gala event in Los Angeles, California.
“This is the victory of every Nepali,” said Basnet to a gathering of spectators after she is named the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year.
The 28-year-old Basnet was nominated for providing a refuge to children who were languishing inside the Nepali prisons along with their parents.
Pushpa Basnet has founded the Butterfly Home, and the Early Childhood Development Center a day care programme for children under six and a residential home where mostly older children receive education, food, medical care and a chance to live a more normal life.
“It’s not fair for (these) children to live in the prison because they haven’t done anything wrong,” CNN earlier had quoted Basnet as saying.
“My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls.”
“The children must not be forced to live behind bars with their parents,” said Basnet, who started her non-profit organisation Early Childhood Development Centre in 2005.
Currently, over 40 such children are living in her shelter, where she provides them with food, clothing, education, medicines and all other basic things.
Pushpa is giving shelter to children from prisons in Dhading, Pokhara, Jajarkot, Phidim, Birgunj and Nepalgunj.
Basnet started her career at the age of 21, while she was still an undergraduate in Social Work. As part of her college assignment, she visited the women prison in Kathmandu. She was dismayed at seeing the conditions of children living with their parents behind the bars. She raised 70,000 rupees (roughly $885) from her close friends and sister, and started a non-profit organization -The Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) to provide a day care program to the children, in 2005.
In 2007, she opened a residential home for kids to live outside of prison year round while still visiting their mothers on holidays. Today, she has assisted more than 100 children of incarcerated parents. She runs a day care center for the prison children and a residential home for older ones. She has also helped to provide alternative residence, school enrollment, free meals and medical care to them.
In 2009, sponsored by Change Fusion Nepal, she started a program to coach parents to make handicrafts inside the cell. The main objective of the program is to make the female prisoners as well as former prisoners to involve in income generating activities through which they can sustain their livelihood and contribute towards raising their children.
She, along with her organization, coordinates with prison administrators to rescue children behind bars throughout urban and rural areas of Nepal, and help them break the cycle of crime and poverty.
Recognizing her effort as the first of a kind in Nepal, many local organizations have pledged their help to raise fund for Basnet.
Major donations for Basnet’s organization has come from The Glasswaters Foundation, Shikshya Foundation Nepal and Sundar Sansar. The center collects donations through various fund raising programs and individual donations.
Recently, a local organization helped raise 3.7 lakh ruppees (roughly $4,600) for her organization through various national and international donation programs.
ELGA Foundation of South Korea awarded ELGA Youth Award to Basnet in September 1, 2012, at Soul’s Chung Conference Hall for her contribution in human services. Basnet is the only foreigner to receive the award which was established in the memory of Social worker Kim Yongi in 1989.
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