Pushpa Basnet, a Nepalese woman who runs a home for children so they don’t have to live behind bars with their incarcerated parents, was named the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year on Sunday night.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries, and when a parent is incarcerated and no other guardian can be found, children have little choice but to live in prison as well. Basnet, 29, decided in 2005 to give these children another option.
She started a home in Kathmandu where children can receive education, food, medical care and a chance to live a more normal life. She also runs a day care program for children who are too young to be separated from their parent. They can come out every afternoon from behind prison walls to play, color and learn music. With 40 children, ages 6 and up, living in the home and the day care toddlers she attends each afternoon, Basnet has assisted more than 100 children of incarcerated parents.
The former social worker was chosen as Hero of the Year through a nine-week public vote held on CNN.com. For being named CNN Hero of the Year, she receives $250,000 to continue her work.
When accepting the Hero of the Year award, Basnet relayed a message to incarcerated children in Nepal.
“Mamu’s going to take you out from the prison, and you’re coming to my place,” said Basnet, who is called “Mamu” by many of the children.
(WATCH the 2 videos about Pushpa below, and SEE the moment she won, or READ more about her work at CNN)