【Newsletter】LUI Che Woo Prize says there’s reason to be positive for 2021

    16 Dec 2020

    Wrapping up a year that has disrupted the lives of the global population in ways few would have imagined possible, it’s worth highlighting a few examples that demonstrate that a positive attitude brings the possibility for powerful change.

    Just think that in 1950, more than half of the world’s population was considered to be living in poverty, while today that figure has fallen to less than 10 percent.

    The average life expectancy over the past 50 years has risen by 20 years due to improvements in living conditions. Advancements in medical science and vaccines have saved more than 100 million children worldwide since 1990.

    There is certainly a lot more that needs to be done to overcome some of the worst challenges facing our environment and natural world. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

    Positivity has power for positive change

    Thanks to the conviction of individuals and organisations, which have believed in their ability to create change for the betterment of humanity. Amongst philanthropic rewards, the LUI Che Woo Prize is unique in acknowledging and celebrating how positive energy has the power to shape the world for the better.

    The inaugural award went to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has spent a lifetime promoting peace, stability, human rights and equality.

    Dedication to peace and human rights

    ©Carter Center

     “The Center believes that people can improve their own lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.”

    Carter Center

    Mr Carter set up the Carter Center in 1982. Its mission is a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. Now active in 80 countries around the world, the organisation has been at the forefront of efforts to promote democracy and has taken the lead to mediate conflict in global hotspots such as Syria and Sudan.

    As well as efforts to reduce social inequalities, the Carter Center has also been at the centre of initiatives to improve global health, tackling diseases, such as river blindness and malaria.

    Eradicating Guinea worm disease

    ©Carter Center

    It has also spearheaded an international effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which is caught by consuming water contaminated with the Guinea worm larvae.

    In 2019, the number of people infected was just 54 cases down from 3.5 million people back in 1986, putting it on the verge of total elimination. It would be just the second disease in human history to have been completely eradicated after smallpox.

    The second Positive Energy Prize went to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which has inspired people around the world, proving that even seemingly insurmountable challenges can be overcome.

    The Paralympic movement believes in using its global position and influence to challenge the stigma attached to disability, empower social transformation and to make a more inclusive society for all.

    The importance of Tokyo 2021

    ©International Paralympic Committee

     “ At a time of crisis, the world needs inclusion, not exclusion.”

    IPC President Andrew Parsons

    It’s been a tough year for the movement, with the hopes and dreams of many Paralympians put on hold due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    However, true to its positive spirit, the organisation isn’t looking back and is fully focused on holding the games in August next year.

    “The world needs the Games next summer and, for the world’s one billion persons with disabilities, next year’s Paralympics have never been more important or more urgently required,” said Parsons at a recent press conference. “At a time of crisis, the world needs inclusion, not exclusion.”

    The third annual award in the Positive Energy category went to the Pratham Education Foundation. Since its inception in 1995, the foundation has shown unwavering determination in tackling illiteracy among India’s poorest children.

    Pratham inspires can-do attitude

    ©Pratham Education Foundation

    It has employed positive energy to tackle the problem and believes that positivity has the power to inspire others to action. In a July interview, Pratham CEO Dr Rukmini Banerji explained her thinking and why she was so pleased the foundation had been recognised in this category. 

    “When a child comes to think that I can do it, it’s a very infectious positive energy that spreads to everyone else,” she said. “When one child has gone through this process they make sure that no younger sibling ever feels that they can’t do it. It’s an infectious positiveness.”

    The most recent LUI Che Woo Prize in this category went to an individual, showing that it’s not just large organisations that have the potential to promote positive change.

    Chinese archaeologist Fan Jin-shi has dedicated her life to documenting and preserving China’s Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes. Also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, the complex of 500 temples is seen as a national and international cultural treasure.

    Preserving for future generations

    ©Dunhuang Academy

    The LUI Prize recognised Ms Fan for her personal example and success as a rare female archaeologist of her times, who worked in a remote area, persevering to protect the site through considerable social upheaval, during a time when such historical relics weren’t considered to have value.

    “Dunhuang caves must exist forever. It’s not just for our generation,” she told the South China Morning Post in an interview last year. “We should pass it on, intact, to our children and grandchildren. We shouldn’t take away the rights of our children and grandchildren,” she said, adding that she would be “the sinner of history” had she let the caves be destroyed.

    Like most major events around the world this year, the LUI Che Woo Prize had to be put on hold due to the challenges in judging the award during the pandemic.

    However, it’s looking forward with positivity to 2021 when it again plans to recognise the people and organisations that have made a difference in improving lives and contributing to the welfare and sustainability of the planet.

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