23 June 2014

2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Winners Chosen From Eight SOS Children's Villages Alum

In the end, nearly 90,000 votes were cast in the month-long contest to elect the two winners of the 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award.

Out of the field of eight finalists, Maya Dhal, from India, and Deepak KC, from Nepal, earned the most votes from around the world, and are the winners of the award.

“Our congratulations go to Maya Dhal and to Deepak KC," SOS Children's Villages President Siddhartha Kaul said.

Helmut Kutin, the President of the Hermann Gmeiner Academy, and former President of SOS Children's Villages International, joined him in congratulating the winners.

The biannual Hermann Gmeiner Award recognizes one woman and one man who were supported by SOS Children’s Villages in their childhoods and who are now inspiring role models in their communities.

“Both winners have, in their own ways, shared their passion with others who are less fortunate. In spite of difficulties they persevered and continue to do so," the presidents said in a joint statement.

"Deepak has a passion for aiding the disabled, and Maya has a passion for education. Both winners have shared their passions and helped children who have been denied many of life's fortunes – a true reflection of SOS Children’s Villages’ values.”

Both winners will be invited to Innsbruck, Austria, for an official award ceremony in October and given cash prizes.

The month-long election proved to be an exciting race, especially between the two male finalists, Deepak from Nepal and Cirilo Burgos from Paraguay. In the final weeks, it looked as though Cirilo might win. But instead of giving up, Deepak's fans taught school children how to vote for Deepak online and contacted national celebrities to rally their fans for him.

When Nepalese rock star Amrit Gurung and BBC Journalist Rabindra Mishra posted an appeal to vote for Deepak on their Facebook pages, the tide turned in his favor. Deepak finished with 50 percent of the votes in the men's contest. Cirilo finished second with 39 percent of the votes.

The women's contest was also extremely close, with Maya Dhal taking 35 percent of the votes and runner up Lucia Viviana Mora of Ecuador got 33 percent.

>>Read about all 8 Hermann Gmeiner Award finalists

Kaul said all eight of this year's finalists are heroes and inspirations to young people all over the world.

“Striving to create conditions that will enable an ever-growing number of young men and women to reach their full potential is the best way of honoring Hermann Gmeiner,” the presidents said.

“Improving the lives of those around you, so they can in turn improve the lives of those around them, is precisely the goal to which our founder was dedicated.”