Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dalai Lama Honors 49 heroes of compassion; honorees from 13 countries in San Francisco for event

San Francisco, CA, April 26, 2009 – His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be the honored guest at a luncheon at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, California, on Sunday, April 26, 2009. His Holiness will acknowledge and thank the 49 highly compassionate individuals who are the honorees of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2009 event.

The honorees—25 women and 24 men—range in age from 12 to 77, hail from 13 countries, and come from a variety of ethnicities, cultures, religions and backgrounds. Gathered from the far corners of the earth, each demonstrates the timeless and universal human goodness celebrated by every wise culture.

“These individuals have been selected as representatives of the tens of thousands of people worldwide who quietly serve the disenfranchised and work to improve our communities through their personal efforts,” says event chair Dick Grace, founder of Grace Family Vineyards and board chair of Wisdom in Action, the organization hosting the unique celebration. “We don’t see them or hear about them in the daily news, but they exemplify a humanism and heroism to which we must each aspire.”

Among the honorees to be acknowledged are:

  • Mohammed Abdul Wohab: Wohab transformed two rupees and a desire to aid those in need into Southern Health Improvement Samity, one of India’s most accomplished and effective nonprofits serving the poor through medical, social welfare, educational and economic initiatives.
  • Olga Sanchez: Founder of Albergue Jesus el Buen Pastor Shelter, Olga overcame her own poverty and life-threatening illness to found a temporary home providing safety and desperately needed medical care to injured and ill migrants.
  • Dr. Geoffrey Tabin: As a mountaineer, Geoffrey became the fourth person in the world to climb the highest points of all seven continents. As an ophthalmologist, he has reached equally impressive medical heights, co-founding the Himalayan Cataract Project and empowering more than 75 doctors in 16 countries to perform 200,000 sight-restoring cataract surgeries throughout Asia.
  • Ibtisam Mahammed: An Arab-Muslim citizen of the State of Israel, Ibtisam has challenged religious, racial and sexual stereotypes to create interfaith dialogues that result in lasting friendships between Jewish, Muslim and Christian women dedicated to ending the violence in the Middle East.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the exiled leader of the Tibetan people and a Buddhist teacher. The 1989 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Dalai Lama is an outspoken proponent of nonviolence and compassion, and is loved and revered internationally. Wisdom in Action (WIA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of compassion in action. WIA is hosting Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2009, the third event of its kind since 2001, to raise awareness that it is each individual’s obligation to help the disenfranchised among us and to acknowledge that each act of compassion makes an important difference to the world.

Co-hosting the event with Dick Grace will be internationally renowned author Isabel Allende, actor Peter Coyote, 2001 Unsung Heroes of Compassion honoree Dr. Grace Dammann, and teacher and author Jack Kornfield.

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