Kenya's leading film maker, Mohinder Dhillon, was knighted by the Order of Saint Mary of Zion during a ceremony at the Royal Artillery Headquarters in Woolwich, U.K. on November 12th 2005. Prince Philip is the Order's Grand Master. The order constitutes a valid chivalric order of knighthood.
"The honors were conferred upon those who had made significant contribution to the society. Honorees included Mohinder Dhillon, whose newsreel photography was viewed to have brought vital issues in the African continent to the attention of the world community. The Award of Knight Commander also recognizes Mr. Dhillon's professional skills and applauds his efforts, sometimes obtained with considerable risk to his personal safety."
Also honored at the ceremony was His Royal Highness Prince Karl Wladimir of Yugoslavia, Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, which supports humanitarian projects in Yugoslavia.
Mohinder had the first indication by e-mail from Professor Frederick Trowman, the Grand Chancellor of the Imperial Order of Saint Mary of Zion on October 19th 2005 in which he invited Mohinder to accept admission into the Order. This is in recognition of Mohinder's humanitarian assistance to the people of Ethiopia. His films of Ethiopian famine finally moved the world into action resulting in one of the biggest famine relief operations in history. Relief planes from dozens of countries descended on little dirt air strips of Ethiopian countryside round the clock as if they were Heathrow or JFK airports. The very first pictures of the terrible Ethiopian famine which shocked the world was the combined effort of Mohinder Dhillon and Michael Buerk of BBC TV to gain entry into tightly controlled military ruled Ethiopia in 1984 opening the door for rest of the media and rest of the world. The combination of Mohinder's sensitive images and Buerks well written words somberly delivered, raised the alarm of compassion. Buerk/Dhillon TV team jointly produced a series of appeals and a shocking news item that resulted in a miracle response from the viewers and donation rained from the skies very soon amounting to Sterling Pounds 10 million.
Mohinder has a lot to say about the way the children of Ethiopia suffered through no fault of theirs. Over the years Mohinder affectionately known as Mo has made a lot of sponsorship appeals working with Hollywood stars on behalf of children all over the world, drawing attention to the desperate plight of children of Africa and the rest of the world, including the Far East.
Mo admits that he suffers emotionally himself by being continuously exposed to the dire poverty and never ending sufferance where children are dying like flies with parents crying their eyes out. Mo sometimes did not feel eating himself out of guilt conscience and during the night recalling day's images of children with death in their eyes haunted him. Being devoted to the humanitarian cause, he carried on shooting continuously knowing his films would make a difference in improving the plight of innocent children,
putting aside his own personal feelings.
Mo is nurturing his old and new injuries which occurred whilst pursuing his profession seriously and fearlessly. His son, Sam Dhillon has more or less fitted into the big shoes of his father and intends to carry on with humanitarian work with the same passion as his father. Mohinder is very proud of Sam's professional skills plus his personal character, full of compassion and a strong drive to excel. Father and son team run an upcoming company "Africapix Media Ltd", filming round the world
Mohinder was also invited to ITN (ITV) News to attend their 50th Anniversary Party in September at the Royal Opera House in London where he was an honoured guest having represented ITN mostly in East Africa and Middle East since 1964. He met some old friends he had not seen for over 35 years especially Britain's Top Rated TV journalist and Presenter of Channel 4 News, Jon Snow. In their heydays the Dhillon/Snow team would never hesitate to risk their neck under any circumstances, and were branded by colleagues as "The Death Wish Team" that would reach great heights, if they stayed alive!!
Mohinder comes from a very humble background, born in a small village in Punjab, India where he obtained junior school education and a bit more at the Duke of Gloucester School, previously Government Indian High School, Nairobi. Mohinder arrived in Kenya in 1947 as a young boy to follow his father the late Mr. Tek Singh who worked for E.A. Railways and Harbors for 29 years. Mr. Tek Singh was one of the leading pioneers of the sport of hockey in Kenya and was a very active social worker and a highly respected human being. Mohinder's younger brother Joginder represented Kenya in the first Kenyan Olympic hockey team in Melbourne in 1956. He still plays veteran hockey and is a medical practitioner in U.K, and recognized Sports Doctor helping in events like Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He hopes to bring in a veteran hockey team to Kenya next year to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first Kenyan Olympic hockey team.
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