It is a great honor for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women's International Film & Television Showcase, it only saddens me that my husband, Tony Blanco, cannot be with me to share this moment, as he would be as honored and proud as I am.
I congratulate you on the beautiful initiative to support and celebrate the dedication, passion and integrity of women in film everywhere, and I thank TheWIFTS Board for considering me worthy of this precious award. I am very sorry to be unable to receive it in person. Thank you!
THE WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL
FILM & TELEVISION SHOWCASE
DECEMBER 10TH 2017
Passion & Integrity
Commerce & Creativity
Equality Not Hierarchy
Didi Ananda Kalika - Mongolia
TheWIFTS Foundation Humanitarian Award
Didi Ananda Kalika
Founder – The Lotus Centre
Didi Ananda Kalika is the recipient of TheWIFTS Foundation Humanitarian Award 2017. Encompassing TheWIFTS’ ethos, Didi Ananda is the Founder of the Lotus Centre in Mongolia. Over 20 years Didi Ananda Kalika has built a home for disadvantaged children from the streets of Mongolia. Thanks to her efforts some 700 children have gone on to have a life and some of her older children are still with her helping her to run the centre and look after the younger ones. The centre is built on a self-sustaining environment on the 10 hectares in the desert, outside of Ulaanbaatar. With the two fold intent of teaching the children a craft and helping to sustain the centre, Didi has developed mini micro industries such as a bakery, and home grown vegetables for the community, and The Lotus Guesthouse, where visitors can visit and do volunteer work.
Founded in 1995 by Didi Ananda Kalika, the Lotus Children’s Centre has been up and running for over 20 years. Didi (which means Sister), who trained with Ananda Marga as a yoga and meditation teacher, arrived in Mongolia in the early ’90s to teach yoga and meditation, and was moved by the plight of the children on the streets of Ulaanbaatar.
Starting from a single apartment, Lotus has grown to having housed, fed, cared for and educated hundreds of children. At one stage Lotus was caring for around 150 children including many abandoned babies. Now the economic situation in Mongolia is better and young children and babies are abandoned less and less. This is reflected in that the centre now cares for just 65 children directly, mostly young teenagers. The age of the children in what Didi describes as “our family” ranges from 2-18 years.
From providing basic care for vulnerable and abused children, Lotus has now developed and also focuses on providing a good education, independence and life skills training to secondary school children as well as continuing to provide primary care.
In Mongolia family links are very important in growing up and becoming an adult. These links are used to find work and accommodation, to fund university and for every kind of support. Orphans in Mongolia receive very little support from the government after turning 18. Lotus focuses on ensuring that the children who have lived in care since they were babies have a good chance at life, so it endeavours to support them into young adulthood for as long as support is required, much like a normal family.
As part of its self-sustaining development, Didi Ananda Kalika created The Lotus Guesthouse, where visitors can visit and do volunteer work. The Lotus Guesthouse is owned by and supports the Lotus Children’s Centre financially and by training the young adults of the centre to find work and build an independent lifestyle in tourism and hospitality.
The Lotus Centre counts among its regular monthly supporters The Al Fayed Charitable Foundation. The ACF has been bettering the lives of impoverished, traumatised and very sick children for almost 25 years. Founded in 1987 by Mohamed Al Fayed, the charity supports a range of specialist children's causes via regular donations and the provision of specialist medical equipment, play and living essentials. It also focuses on raising awareness and support for many children's hospices, hospitals and other children's charities. Today, the ACF embraces new initiatives led by Trustee Camilla Al Fayed, Mr. Al Fayed's youngest daughter. Camilla has been working with the Foundation since 2006, and as well as making regular visits to the charities the ACF supports, she is also Young Persons' Ambassador at Zöe's Place, the Kirsty Club, and The New School at West Heath.