Ruby Hembrom (left) with Boski Jain who did the illustrations for the book “We Come from the Geese.” Hembrome is the recipient of a 2016 Foundation Development Fellowship. (acelebrationofwomen.org photo)
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Asia Foundation announced Feb. 3 that six South Asians were recently named to the 2016 class of the Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future.
The four men and two women are an accomplished group of change makers — talented and inspirational young professionals working in government, the nonprofit sector, social enterprises, and media representing 11 Asian countries.
Named as Fellows were Ruby Hembrom, a documentarian from India; Mahnoor Rathore, a women’s rights advocate from Pakistan; and Novil Wijesekara, a doctor and Community Resilience Center founder from Sri Lanka.
Also named were Nuruddin Ahmed, Bengali Youth Platform founder from Bangladesh; Sushil Adhikari, a youth and disability rights activist from Nepal; and Brabim Kumar, president of the Association of Youth Organization, also from Nepal.
Hembrom is the founder and director of Adivaani (first voices), an archiving and publishing outfit for and by Adivasis. A trained instructional designer, editor and book designer, Hembrom’s documentation initiative grew out of a need to claim Adivasis’ stake in historical and contemporary social, cultural and literary spaces and as a people.
Hembrom holds a law degree from Calcutta University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Education at the Indira Gandhi National Open University.
A human rights lawyer by training, Rathore currently runs Chayn Pakistan, the first crowdsourced website informing and supporting women experiencing domestic violence in Pakistan. She has actively volunteered and worked with various NGOs, both community and government-based, on a range of issues including education and women’s rights.
In 2014, she was selected for the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellowship. Rathore completed her bachelor of laws degree from the University of London.
Wijesekara is a medical doctor who established the first community-based tsunami early warning system of Sri Lanka and pioneered the community empowerment through disaster preparedness. Wijesekara founded the CommunityResilienceCenter, a community-based organization that promotes resilience of communities.
Ahmed is an engineer, social entrepreneur, author and the founder of the international award-winning Bengali youth platform Shorob.com, a youth mobilizing platform that has reached a quarter of a million Bengali-speaking youths.
Shorob publishes pieces various issues such as civic participation, human rights and minority rights. Ahmed also directs Shorob Accountability Lab, which develops innovative mobile applications focusing on government transparency, accountability and free and fair elections.
Kumar is a writer, political activist, and a communication specialist, currently serving as president of Association of Youth Organization Nepal, a national network of youth that unites 92 youth organizations in Nepal.
He has a decade of commitment to youth-led activism in Nepal, which includes the founding of Creative Youth Society and a national radio show called Youth Vision, in 2004.
Kumar holds a master’s degree in sociology and anthropology, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences, both from Tribuwan University.
Adhikari is a youth and disability-rights activist, blogger and freelance writer. He is also a developer, promoter, trainer in accessible and adaptive technology, and founder of Bright Star Society, a venture working to bridge the gap between persons with and without disabilities in Nepal.
Since losing his sight at age 11, he has worked to become an active change agent while engaging himself with different elements of the youth-disability sector in Nepal. He holds a master’s degree in English, a master’s degree in sociology, and a bachelor’s degree in humanities, all from Tribhuwan University.