Photo by Michael Yamshita
A few months ago, we announced that Dr. Shankar Man Rai, director emeritus of Interplast’s surgical outreach center in Nepal, had been named an “Unsung Hero of Compassion.”
On April 26, 2009, the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion Ceremony” was held at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, California. It was a touching and humbling event, honoring 49 individuals from across the globe for their service to the worldwide community. Each honoree received a ‘kata,’ a traditional Tibetan blessed scarf, from His Holiness the Dalai Lama as they walked across the stage to receive his blessing.
The honorees, extremely passionate and generous individuals, head humanitarian causes ranging from the promotion and practice of interfaith dialogue among women in the Middle East to free clinics providing aid for autistic children in Thailand.
Among the honorees was Interplast’s very own Dr. Shankar Man Rai, who has trained more than 50 medical professionals with whom he has performed more than 10,000 free reconstructive surgeries in Nepal. He has taken his efforts to aid the people of Nepal one step further by setting up speech therapy camps to help more than 2,250 children in rural Nepal with their speech impediments. As he continues with his wonderful work, Dr. Rai never forgets his roots. Born to a poor farming family and the first in his family to become an educated professional, Dr. Rai brings a unique empathy for the patients he helps.
Dick Grace, activist, head of Grace Family Vineyards, and one of the co-hosts of the event, summed up the sentiments of those in the room as he explained, “My gurus are the burned, my gurus are the ill, my gurus are the undereducated, my gurus are those without access to opportunity, my gurus are those who are challenged and meet those challenges with dignity.” As Jack Kornfield, a renowned Buddhist teacher, stated about the event, it is “more than anything…about the values of the heart.”