Bilquis Bano, the Pakistani caretaker of Indian girl Geeta, and the global humanitarian aid provider Medecins Sans Frontieres have been selected for “Mother Teresa Memorial International Award-2015” for social justice, an official said here on Sunday.
The prestigious award, which has been earlier presented to two Nobel laureates — Dalai Lama and Malala Yousufzai — has been instituted by the Harmony Foundation, Mumbai.
“In view of the noble and humanitarian act of sheltering our dear Geeta — a deaf-and-mute woman who had accidentally crossed into Pakistan, the Harmony Foundation Board has unanimously decided to honour Karachi-based Bilquis Bano of the Edhi Foundation,” the foundation’s chairman and activist Abraham Mathai said.
Bano looked after Geeta graciously for over a decade and even allowed her the freedom to practice her own religion until her return to her family last week.
“It is indeed remarkable to note Bano’s empathic gesture of considering her religious beliefs and cultural sentiments through the years, despite Geeta’s disadvantaged situation to demand the same,” Mathai explained.
Bano and MSF’s representative Leslie Shanks have accepted the Harmony Foundation’s invite to come personally and receive the award instituted in memory of the late Mother Teresa at an event scheduled here on November 22, he added.
Mother Teresa, who was conferred the Nobel Prize and the Bharat Ratna for her selfless services to the poor and downtrodden, passed away in Kolkata in 1997.
The Medecins Sans Frontieres, founded in France in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, has also been a recipient of some international honours, including the Nobel Prize and Indira Gandhi Prize.