11 July 2014

Talking with 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Winner Deepak KC

(7/11/14): The journey toward Deepak’s victory will go down in the history of SOS Children’s Villages Nepal. His three-day campaign, dubbed ‘Mission Deepak’, was filled with stress but followed by relief and elation.

Deepak KC, 39, was a promising recipient of the 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award. At first, victory seemed impossible for Deepak, who lost a big chunk of his votes when they were found to be artificial. However, thousands of voters including a rock star, a BBC journalist, and a parliamentarian helped him fight back and win the male category of the award.

“I was on full alert until the last hour of voting day. It was a moment of very big relief when I personally read the official announcement. I am really proud, happy, and grateful to all my supporters who cast their valuable votes,” Deepak said.

Deepak was honored for his outstanding achievements in architectural engineering and for his efforts to raise a voice for disabled people. He is a strong advocate for disabled-friendly buildings and facilities and was also the first wheelchair user in Nepal to obtain a degree in architectural engineering.

Influential people in Nepal were approached in order to raise awareness of Deepak’s nomination. Among them were Rabindra Mishra, a BBC journalist based in Kathmandu; Gagan Thapa, a young and energetic parliamentarian; and Amrit Gurung, a rock star and patriotic singer. They all asked their Facebook fans to vote for Deepak.

The residents of Deepak’s hometown, Jorpati, Nepal, made it their duty to promote Deepak, and were amazed by the overall support.

“Mission Deepak was totally a roller coaster ride for us. There were times when we felt low, and times when we felt high, but it taught us a lot of things. We guess that is what the Hermann Gmeiner Award is all about – the unity among us and to make us more determined toward our goal,” a statement from the SOS Children’s Village Jorpati staff said.

Deepak was awarded nearly $7,000 and plans to use his prize money to create his own professional web page. The web page will highlight his architectural work and also include information about wheelchair-accessible buildings and facilities in Nepal.

“This one month journey taught me how to handle pressure, stress and frustration and to be responsible and not to lose hope even in the last hours. I am really proud to be part of such a loving family,” Deepak said.

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