April 9, 1920 – June 19, 2009
Being a teenager with a communist mindset, Vicente Ferrer was called to participate in the Spanish civil war which was lost by his side. After the war he was interned in several concentration camps. He abandoned his law studies to join the Jesuits with whom, at the age of 32, he began his contact with India as a missionary. Twenty years later he left the Jesuits and married an English journalist with whom he founded the organization “Rural Development Trust” that worked in India causing great sympathy among the peasants, but not so much among the political classes and rulers who felt their interests threatened. These rich people got an order to expel him from the country. Against that, more than 30,000 farmers, supported by intellectuals, politicians and religious leaders mobilized in a 250km march to protest against the expulsion order. He was supported by Gandhi who said he could return to the country and continue implementing his projects.
In 1996 he created his own foundation, the “Vicente Ferrer Foundation”, focused on the outcast and the tribal villages of Anantapur, where he devoted more than 40 years of his life. His work succeeded in creating, three general hospitals, one specializing in HIV, a birth control center, 14 rural clinics, 1696 schools, 30,000 homes and nearly 3 million trees planted, among other projects. His work, and the people who have helped, changed for good the lives of two and a half million people.
On March the 20th of 2009, Ferrer was rushed to hospital in Anantapur and died three months later due to respiratory issues. Immediately after his death, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs created “the Vicente Ferrer award for International Cooperation” that rewards those people or organizations who excel in cooperation and humanitarian aid. Spanair, the Spanish airline, put the name of the missionary on one of its Airbus 320s, within a broader agreement with the Foundation. On February the 1st of 2010, an independent platform presented in Oslo the Vicente Ferrer candidature at the Nobel Peace award.