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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Nicolás Castellanos, Vicente Ferrer, Joaquín Sanz Gadea and Muhammad Yunus

Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 1998

In consideration of their unselfish and tireless efforts and exemplary contribution, in different geographical areas and spheres of activity.

Nicolás Castellanos

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Antonio Nicolás Castellanos Franco (Mansilla del Páramo, León, España, 1935 -) took holy orders in Palencia in 1953 and completed his ecclesiastical studies in the La Vid Monastery (Burgos). In 1992 he resigned as Bishop of Palencia in order to dedicate himself to missionary work, and since then Monsignor Castellanos has resided in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with a group of priests, clergy, and laypersons, where he is at work on Plan 3000, which attempts to improve the living conditions and well- being in this urban area. He has founded the "Hombres Nuevos" Parish on which five soup kitchens-providing relief to more than 800 children and mothers-depend. At the "Palencia" Childrens´ Centre, 200 children suffering from malnutrition are attended to each year, and their mothers are given support. He has also built 14 educational centres, which enrol more than 14,000 students.

Vicente Ferrer

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Vicente Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain, 1920 – Anantapur, India, 2009) after entering the priesthood and joining the Society of Jesus (1944), moved to India in 1952, where he has continued to perform his apostolic work. Between 1952 and 1969 he lived in the Manmad region (Bombay) where he was known as the "missionary of the wells" for the support he gave to the peasants in the construction of water wells, creating the "Rural Development Association"-one of the first organisations dedicated to the development of rural areas in India. With this period ended, the Society ordered his return to Europe; his refusal caused the Jesuits to banish him from their order. At the same time the New Delhi government ordered his expulsion from the country, a decision that was later overturned after massive protests of pariahs. Moving to the state of Andra Pradesh, he again set up irrigation systems, this time in a desert area that was completely barren. The cooperative work method that he instituted there goes by the name of "linked brotherhood": help is given to each peasant in digging his own well, with material and foodstuffs for the length of the work; when this is finished the peasant-who now can consider himself to be all but rich-helps others just as he was helped. In the face of the rigid Hindu caste system, Ferrer groups the untouchables together in democratically run communities, which has received criticism from several Hindu sectors. In Anantapur, Ferrer´s work has produced results that are truly remarkable. With a radius of action covering an area as large as Extremadura, with 1,100 villages and two million inhabitants, the following has been built: 2,500 houses (1,200 more are to be built this year and nearly 13,000 were repaired), 2 hospitals (a third of them are under construction), two family planning centres, two centres for the handicapped, hundreds of schools, numerous women´s associations. Married with three children, his work has been sponsored by the non-governmental organisation Ayuda en Acción, whose honorary president is H.R.H. Doña Pilar de Borbón. This organisation raises funds through its "sponsor a child" program.

Vicente Ferrer died on June 19, 2009.

Joaquín Sanz Gadea

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Joaquín Sanz Gadea (Teruel, Spain, 1930 - ), after graduating from the University of Salamanca with a degree in Medicine and Surgery, went on to study Tropical Medicine at the Sorbonne and Gynaecology and Surgery at the Complutense in Madrid. He has been medical director of the Buta Hospital in the eastern province of the Congo, where he began working in 1961 after being selected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the "Operation Congo" campaign. He worked in this country for fourteen years, and during his vacations in Spain he made numerous arrangements aimed at obtaining plasma and medical and surgical supplies for area hospitals. Sanz Gadea has also performed other medical tasks of a marked humanitarian nature, as a leprologist in the Maleke Leprosarium at the Stanleyville Hospital and as the head of the Surgery Unit at the Onatra Hospital of Matadi (Congo). Sanz Gadea has also been Surgeon General of the Sahara and has written such books as "What Every Saharan Should Know About Trachoma" (1975). He has been a member of the Spanish Academy of Surgical Medicine since 1978 and is honorary consultant to the Fernando el Católico Institution. Among his many honours, he is the recipient of the Zaragoza Delegation´s "San Jorge" Award (1968) and the "Dag Hammarsjoeld" International Award for humanitarian achievement.

Muhammad Yunus

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Muhammad Yunus (Chittagong, Bangladesh, 1940 - ),  received an MA in Economics from Dhaka University. He went on to broaden his knowledge in the United States as a Fullbright and Eisenhower Fellow, earning his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Professor of Economics at Chittagong College, he founded the Bank of the Poor (the Grameen Bank) in 1976, a non-profit institution that has rescued hundreds of thousands of his countrymen from misery. He is considered to be the architect of the microcredit revolution. His bank only concedes credits to the very poor who then become shareholders in the entity; their number now exceeds 2.5 million, with 94 percent being women. Currently, it has more than 22,000 employees who work in nearly 38,000 of the country´s 68,000 hamlets and villages, and it has more than a thousand branch offices. The average loan is 75 dollars and the maximum is 300 dollars; there is a 98 percent repayment rate. The Bank goes out to look for clients and encourages self-employment; it uses a system that is now functioning in more than 50 countries to organise clients into small self-policing groups. In the words of Yunus, the system attempts "to do away with financial apartheid. We believe that a loan is more than a business proposition and that it, like sustenance, is a right of man". "Poverty has a place in museums, but not in a civilised human society". Yunus has received honorary doctorates from more than ten universities from around the world and is the recipient of such awards as the Ramón Masagay (Philippines), the Aga Khan for Architecture (Switzerland), the Pfeffer Peace Prize, awards from the World Food Foundation and the Gleitsman Foundation (all three in the United States), the Simón Bolivar (Unesco), the Man of Peace (Italy), etc.

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