The Judd Wave
WE HAVE time and again written about Dr Achyuta Samanta’s undying and priceless contribution to the poorest of the poor tribal children through his institution in Bhubaneswar, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). And, just when we seem to forget, he makes sure to remind us that no service is greater than the service to humanity, indeed. He has been continuing his mission to empower more than 30,000 tribal children and integrate them with the mainstream population by imparting them free education (KG to PG) and life skills, apart from boarding and lodging through KISS, the world’s biggest tribal school. Meanwhile, in 2008, they initiated the KISS Humanitarian Award to recognise and felicitate individuals for their exemplary and distinguished service to humanity across the globe. Just like KISS has become internationally visible despite being in the quaint city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, the award too has gained international acclaim because of its glorious past recipients. Some of them being Madam Edna Bomo Molewa, former premier of North-western state of South Africa and the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Anerood Jugnauth, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Lyonchhen Jigmiy Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan and Anne Margaret Fagertun Stenhammer, Regional Director of UN Women for South Asia. This year’s recipient, however, took the cake. For, one saw none other than the actress cum social activist, the dazzling Ashley Judd, descend upon Bhubaneswar to receive the award. Now, we all know that Ashley Judd is an acclaimed actor, but few know that she is also a writer, and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador. For the uninitiated, Judd’s initial humanitarian work revolved around AIDS in Africa. She is strongly committed to the cause of social justice, poverty eradication and sustainable development, besides being a passionate advocate of the rights of the girl child and women and is fighting to end gender based violence. Meanwhile, it was a pleasant and heart warming scene to see the glamorous lady of substance mingle with the children of the school without any affectation. She received the award amidst several national and international luminaries and great fanfare. We couldn’t stop notice how comfortable the actress and humanitarian looked in an ethnic mauve sari when we can’t say the same for too many of our own ladies. Smiling all along, she was truly a symbol of grace, dignity and giving. That she was pleased with her award and her visit to KISS was clear, considering how Twitter-happy she had gotten about her experiences. She is the perfect ambassador for KISS too, we feel.
...Dr Achyuta Samanta with Ashley Judd and guests