Tri Mumpini Wins ‘Asia’s Nobel Prize’ for Helping Poor

Indonesian social worker Tri Mumpuni is among the winners of Asia’s prestigious Magsaysay award this year for giving green technologies to the poor, organizers said on Wednesday.

Award foundation president Carmencita Abella said Tri, along with an Indian engineer and a Philippine charity group, had helped harness the technologies to empower their countrymen and worked to create waves of progressive change across Asia.

Each year six people or organizations are named joint winners of the Magsaysay award.

This year the other winners were a man who set up an Islamic school for girls in Indonesia, a lender to India’s poorest, and a man working to restore democracy in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge murdered his father.

“Working on critical issues … they are showing how commitment, competence, and collaborative leadership can truly transform individual lives and galvanize community action,” Abella said.

The award, often described as Asia’s Nobel Prize, is named after a famous Philippine president who died in a 1957 plane crash.

It aims to honor people who address issues of human development in Asia with courage and creativity.

Tri Mumpuni, 46, was recognized after her IBEKA foundation built 60 small power plants harnessing the energy of water stored in dams to bring electricity to half a million people, the awards foundation said.

She was once kidnapped with her husband by former separatist rebels in Aceh province while pursuing her nongovernmental group’s project to bring electricity to rural Indonesia.

Another winner was US-trained Indian engineer Harish Hande, 44, for bringing solar lights to a country where half of all households have no electricity, the awards foundation said.

His Solar Electric Light Co.-India has tapped the sun’s energy to light up 120,000 households and is now one of the country’s largest solar technology providers.

The winners are to receive their awards in Manila on August 31.

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