Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck has been presented the 2008 Mandala Award for Arts and Humanitarian Achievement by the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) in New York.
According to a press release from RMA, Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck was honoured for her charitable activities in the health sector in Bhutan. The award ceremony was held on October 7.
RMA said: “In Bhutan, she has created clinics for leprosy and cancer patients and maternity and pediatric wards, and has worked on behalf of disabled children for UNICEF in Cambodia and AIDS patients in India.”
In the early eighties, Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, 47, left the University of California to pursue fieldwork in the leprosy control programme.
Observers told Kuensel that she was fully involved in the government’s effort to eradicate leprosy. Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck lived in the leprosy colony in eastern Bhutan for more than three months, where she helped to identify, treat, and rehabilitate patients, some of whom were ostracised.
Her personal involvement in the programme and visits to patients and their families had greatly helped remove the stigma associated with the disease.
Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck had embraced different charity activities since the age of 18, according to the source. About 25 years ago, she had established a 30-bed home for needy patients in Thimphu referral hospital, which was then a general hospital. It catered to patients coming in from rural areas who did not have a place to stay.
In recent times, similar Welfare Homes were also being established in Mongar and Trashigang within hospital premises. In 2006, she initiated a Welfare Fund to help needy patients cover basic needs, including travel fare for patients and escorts to return to their hometowns.
With an increasing number of Bhutanese visiting the cancer hospital in Siliguri, an apartment has been rented to accommodate these patients.
Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck continues to provide support to the blood banks, maternity and pediatric wards of Thimphu referral hospital. She has provided help to countless individuals from all walks of life.
Sources say that, although most of Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck’s work was supported with personal funds, about 30 percent of it came from well-wishers and friends.
Along with Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, RMA also awarded the French National Order of Merit to a French biologist-turned Buddhist monk and an acclaimed author, Matthieu Ricard, for his humanitarian work in Asia.
RMA is recognised for its world class collection of Himalayan art, a remarkable achievement of a New York couple, Donald and Shelley Rubin, established more than 30 years ago. The awards were presented during its second annual Nine Rivers Gala.