Throughout history, people have been rewarded for contributions to society in various ways. There is the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prizes in other fields. There are many humanitarian awards and so on. However, there have been very few, if any, awards that are specifically for children who make a difference in the world. That was until 2005, when the first ever International Children’s Peace Prize was awarded.
The International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded to children of exceptional character. They are children who have used their caring, understanding, courage and/or intelligence to make a difference for children in the world around them. Thusfar, every winner has won because of humanitarian efforts.
Winners of the International Children’s Peace Prize are given a trophy and a cash prize. The trophy fittingly depicts a child pushing a globe that presumably represents the Earth. The cash prize is close to 130,000 dollars. The organization that initiated this prize-KidsRights-takes the money and applies it to a project that aligns with the child’s cause.
As mentioned above, the children who have been awarded this prize are exceptional. Without further ado, here are the five children who have won the award thusfar, where they come from and what their cause is.
Name: Nikosi Johnson
Cause: Equality for children with HIV/AIDS
Home: South Africa
Nikosi Johnson was a boy who was born with HIV. He fought with discrimination in schools, so he decided to speak out for equal rights. By all accounts, he was a kind, intuitive boy who really understood compassion. Sadly, he passed away before the International Children’s Peace Prize was awarded to him. His adoptive mother started an organization for children and mothers with HIV/AIDS. She called it Nikosi’s Haven.
Name: Om Prakash Gurjar
Cause: Anti-child labor and child labor prevention
Om Prakash Gurjar was enslaved and forced to work grueling hours when he was just 5-years-old. He somehow managed to escape this horrible reality and went on to tell people his story. From there, he began speaking about ways to stop and/or prevent child labor. Specifically, he promoted the use of birth certificates. Giving every child a birth certificate will help eliminate questions of age and parentage. Therefore, children can be found easily and law-breakers can be caught easily. His actions have reverberated throughout his homeland and apparently the world.
Name: Thandiwe Chama
Cause: Children’s rights, particularly to education
Thandiwe was 8-years-old when she became an activist. Her school had closed and she wanted an education. She gathered 60 other children and began walking in search of a new school. It was likely to ignore these walking children. Another school agreed to take them as a result of Chama’s actions. Since that time, she has continued to speak out for children’s rights.
Name: Mayra Avellar Neves
Cause: Anti-violence affecting children in Rio de Janeiro
Home: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Mayra grew up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. There, thousands of children meet with violent deaths every year. Drug trafficking and crime rates are absurdly high and youthful violence is at an intolerable level. Mayra just wants a safe life and an education. Therefore, when the violence got so bad that she and other children could not receive and education (or medical supplies), she organized protest marches with hundreds of other children. They were heard. However, there is still a long road ahead for young Mayra and her cause.
Name: Baruani Ndume
Cause: Assisting the children in Tanzania’s refugee camps
Home: Democratic Republic of Congo/Tanzania
Baruani was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. By the time he was 7-years-old, his parents were dead and his younger brother was lost to him as a result of the horrific violence there. He managed to flee his home country and move to a refugee camp in Tanzania. There, his life was not much better. He was abused by the woman who took him in. Luckily, Baruani was bright, strong and brave. He complained about the abuse to a humanitarian worker who was visiting the camp. The reportedly spoke to his guardian and the abuse has stopped. Baruani also became part of a group of children who somehow managed to start a radio show from the camp. It is called Children to Children. They speak about issues facing the children in the camps and have even successfully helped children find their lost family members.
The next time you look at a child and think they are too young to handle something or they cannot possibly be tough enough to tackle some issue, remember the recipients of the International Children’s Peace Prize. They serve as a reminder that children can stick up for themselves when adults are not paying attention. Now that they have our attention, let us help them help themselves.
The International Children’s Peace Prize, 8/10/10, childrenspeaceprize.org