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# 46 • 2008

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The rights of the child What is the World’s Children’s Prize? ..............4 Celebrate the rights of the child! ...........................8 How are the world’s children? ............................. 10 The prize ceremony 2007 ........................................ 12 The World’s Children’s Ombudsman ........... 14 Previous prize laureates ............................................. 15

Candidates for th Dog sled in the snow Vote Supplement page 28

Thanks! Tack! Merci !

¡Gracias! Obrigado!




To HRM Queen Silvia of Sweden, AstraZeneca, Abraxis BioScience & Los Angeles Friends of the World’s Children’s Prize, Banco Fonder, ABN AMRO Bank, Interoute, Sida, Save the Children Sweden, Radiohjälpen, Folke Bernadotte Akademin, Kronprinsessan Margaretas Minnesfond, Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Dahlströmska Stiftelsen and Boob Design. To Communication Works (South Africa), The ForeSight Group, Grenna Polkagriskokeri, Ågerups, Floristen i Mariefred, ICA Torghallen Mariefred, Centas, Euronics Strängnäs, Petter Ljunggren, Lilla Akademien, Gripsholms Slottsförvaltning, Gripsholmsvikens Hotell & Konferens, Grafikens Hus, Maria Printz & Printzens Matverk, Broccoli and Benninge Restaurangskola. To all the children and young people in the prize jury and the Global Friend schools. All Honorary Adult Friends, Adult Friends and Children’s World’s members and partners, and to Nick Booth, Mark Drewell, David Freeman and Geoff Tudhope.










The people in this issue of The Globe live in these countries and areas.

In Bangladesh: Svalorna (The Swallows), SASUS In Benin: Juriste Echos Consult In Brazil: Grupo Positivo (Portal Educacional and Portal Aprende Brasil), SEMED-Santarém, 5a Unidade Regional de Educação/SEDUC-PA, SEMED-Belterra, SME-São José dos Campos, SME-Araraquara, ONG Circo de Todo Mundo, Projeto Rádio pela Educação/Rádio Rural de Santarém In Burkina Faso: Art Consult et Développement In Burundi: Maison Shalom In Cameroon: SOS Villages d’Enfants Cameroun, Plan Cameroun In Ivory Coast: Ministère de l’Education, CAMUA – Berte Zanga, Unicef In Gambia: Child Protection Alliance (CPA) In Ghana: Ministry of Education, ATWWAR – Ekua Ansah Eshon, Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child – Susan Sabaa, Unicef , Integrated Development Centre – Kenneth Wujangi, VRA Schools – Grace Annancy In Guinea Conakry: Ministère de l’Education, CAMUE – Kourouma Oumar In Guinea Bissau: Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale, AMIC In India: City Montessori School Lucknow – Shishir Srivastava, Times of India’s Newspaper in Education, Peace Trust – Paul Baskar, Barefoot College, Tibetan Children’s Villages, CREATE, Hand in Hand In Kenya: Ministry of Education, Provincial Director of Education for Western and Nyanza Provinces, CSO Network for Western Kenya and Nyanza Province – Betty Okero In Congo Brazzaville: ASUDH/ Gothia Cup I Congo Kinshasa: FORDESK, APEC In Mauritania: Association des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs de la Mauritanie In Mexico: Secretaría de Desarollo Humano Gobierno de Jalisco In Mozambique: The Department of Education, SANTAC (Southern African Network Against Trafficking and Abuse of Children), Graça Machel In Nepal: Maiti Nepal In Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Education, the Ministries of Education in Kogi State, Lagos State, Ogun State, and Oyo State, Unicef, Royaltimi

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Talents Network – Rotimi Samuel Aladetu, CHRINET, Children’s Rights Network – Moses Adedeji In Pakistan: BLLFS, BRIC, PCDP In Rwanda: AOCM In Senegal: Ministère de l’Education, Ministère de la Femme, de la Famille et du Développement Social, EDEN – Lamine Gaye, Save the Children Sweden, Unicef In South Africa: Ministry of Education, National Department of Education, Eastern, Western and Northern Cape Departments of Education, North West Department of Education and Department of Social Development, Bojanala Platinum District Municipality and Department of Education, Qumbu District of Education, The Robben Island Museum, Unisa YLC In Thailand: Ministry of Education, Duang Prateep Foundation In Uganda: Uganda Local Governments Association – Gertrude Rose Gamwera, Wakiso District – Ssekyole Deo, BODCO – Nason Ndaireho, GUSCO In UK: The Children’s Rights Director for England – Roger Morgan, Oasis School of Human Relations In Vietnam: Vietnam Committee for Population, Family and Children – CPFC, Voice of Vietnam – VOV Children’s Programme, Nguyen T.N. Ly, Save the Children Sweden

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r the WCPRC 2008









Homeless skateboard


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Rap for the Global Vote




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Vote Supplement page 11




Plastic bag football


Vote Supplement page 8

The World’s Children’s Prize jury How many planets do you need?


Vote Supplement page 32


Lord Krishna’s dance Vote Supplement page 5


Ballot boxes in Kenya

The Global Vote See Vote Supplement

Global Vote! Världsomröstning Votación Mundial Vote Mondial Votação Mundial

Page 92 and Vote Supplement pages 36–47

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THE GLOBE is published by the organisation Children’s World with support from Sida (the Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation) and is a member magazine for Global Friend schools. Box 150, 647 24 Mariefred, Sweden Tel: +46-159-12900 Fax: +46-159-10860 e-mail:


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Editor-in-chief and legally responsible publisher: Magnus Bergmar Contributors to issue 46-47: Johanna Hallin, Tora Mårtens, Carmilla Floyd, Kim Naylor, Andreas Lönn, Paul Blomgren, Lila DoVan, Ragna Jorming, Annika Forsberg Langa, Christiane Sampaio, Carlos França, Sven Rosell, Kent Klich, Elin Berge Illustrations & maps: Jan-Åke Winqvist, Lotta Mellgren Design: Fidelity Translation: Tamarind (English, Spanish, Portuguese), Cinzia Gueniat (French), Jane Vejjajiva (Thai), Preeti Shankar (Hindi), Dr. M.A Jeyaraju (Tamil). Also available in Vietnamese. Language revision: Kerstin Connor Cover photo: Tora Mårtens Repro: Done Printing: PunaMusta Oy ISSN 1102-8343.

GLOBAL VOTE 2008: 14 January – 14 April 07-11-09 16.03.15

“Dear voters” written on a wall in a rural part of Zimbabwe. 560,000 children in Zimbabwe read the prize magazine, discussed the rights of the child and voted in the Global Vote for the first time.



Hello Global Friend! The World’s Children’s Prize for the

Rights of the Child (WCPRC) belongs to you and all the other children and young people under 18 in the world! Your school (or group) is one of 33,000 Global Friend schools with 15 million pupils in 86 countries. And that number is growing fast. The WCPRC 2008 will take place from 14 January to 14 April.


any schools work on the World’s Children’s Prize for weeks or months, and in several different subjects – even maths! It’s a good idea to study the rights of the child and the prize in this order: 1. Together for the rights of the child Start by learning more about the rights of the child, with help from the prize magazine (pages 8-11) and www. If you live in a country where there are lots of Global Friend schools you’ll receive a fact sheet on the situation for the

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rights of the child in your country along with the prize magazine. “Thanks to The Globe magazine I’ve learned about my rights. I wish that all the children in the world took part in the Global Vote every year. I know that many adults in my country don’t know that the rights of the child exist,” says Massala in Congo Brazzaville. “We have to teach the adults about our rights,” says Adou in Ivory Coast. Koffi in Ivory Coast doesn’t trust adults: “We children have to fight for our rights – we don’t get them for free. I don’t under-

stand why adults don’t respect the rights of the child.” “I would like there to be a government minister for us children, a child minister, who would make sure our rights are respected,” says Coumba in Senegal. “Many adults don’t believe that children can have views on things like school and society,” says Carine in Brazil. Aishwarya in India agrees with her: “Adults underestimate us. We should be able to express our opinions, just like in the WCPRC. The world’s children are its best hope for development.”

Are the rights of the child respected in your life? At home? At school? Where you live and in your country? Do politicians listen to children? What needs to change? Do adults treat children well? If not, what needs to change? How can you and your friends tell people – your parents, teachers, politicians, journalists and other adults – that the rights of the child are not respected, and how things should be? Ayanda in South Africa knows what he wants to say: “You adults have to treat me the way that you wanted to be treated when you were children!”

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The animals on the voting slips

r rights In the Vote Supplement, you can read more about what children and young people think about the rights of the child, the World’s Children’s Prize and the Global Vote. You can learn a lot about the rights of the child all over the world by reading about the life experiences of the jury children (pages 3647 in the supplement, and longer texts at 2. Find out about the prize candidates When you have found out about and discussed the rights of the child, it’s time to meet this year’s prize candidates and the children they fight for. On pages 16-41 you can get to know Josefi na Condori and ‘her’ children. Meet Agnes Stevens and ‘her’ children on pages 42–66, and Somaly Mam and ‘her’ children on pages 67–91.

Girls in Velankanni on the east coast of India, who lost parents and siblings in the tsunami, prepare for the Global Vote.

As you’re sure to see straight away, all three prize candidates do fantastic things for children. And the children and young people’s thoughts and feelings are just like yours would be if you had experienced the same things. They are just like you. You might read the prize magazine as homework. You might put on an exhibition or a play about the prize candidates and the rights of the child. Perhaps you can ‘travel’ to the candidates’ countries as reporters. Your teacher can get more ideas about what you can do with the WCPRC from the Teachers’ Guide and the teachers’ section of the prize website. To be able to make a fair choice, you need to know the same amount about all the candidates, their work and the children they fight for. Three prizes will be awarded:

The Global Friends’ Award A prize from you and all the other voting children. In the fi rst Global Vote in 2001, 19,000 children voted. In 2007, 5.2 million children voted. Will you make it 6 million in 2008? World’s Children’s Prize The jury children’s prize – fi nd out more on the next page. World’s Children’s Honorary Award The Honorary Award goes to the prize candidate(s) who does/do not receive either of the other two prizes. The children who vote and the jury children can, without knowing it, decide to give your prizes to the same person. All three candidates receive prize money towards their work for the rights of the child. The total prize sum for 2008 is $150,000 US dollars.

Llama – Josefina Condori The llama lives in the Andes and was the Inca people’s main livestock animal. They are used in Peruvian mountain villages as pack animals, as well as for their wool and their meat. Grizzly bear – Agnes Stevens The grizzly bear is the official animal of the state of California, and it is can be found on the Californian flag. But these days there isn’t a single grizzly bear left in California – the last one was shot in 1922. Tiger – Somaly Mam There are around 150 wild tigers left in the jungles of Cambodia. They have survived decades of war and bombing, but now they are close to extinction because of illegal logging and poaching.

What happens behind this door? Revealed on the next page


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The WCPRC and the Global Vote is not a competition. All three candidates have made fantastic contributions to the rights of the child, and will be honoured for that at the award ceremony. All three also receive prize money that they must use in their work for the rights of the child. In 2008, the total prize money is $150,000 US dollars. In the Global Vote and the jury meeting, you and other children and young people decide who will receive the prizes.

A girl impacted by the tsunami in Velankanni in India casts her vote.

they fight for. You also know all about your prizes, and about how a democratic Global Vote works. Hope your Global Vote Day is fun! Good luck and don’t forget to invite the press, radio and TV to come along! Report back to the WCPRC too – say how eve­ rything went and what you think about the rights of the child, the WCPRC and the Global Vote.

IMPORTANT! Not a competition! 3. Prepare for the Global Vote After learning about all three candidates, some schools make election post­ ers and hold speeches. Anyone aged 18 or over is not allowed to vote. Since the Global Vote is your vote, it’s important that you chil­ dren and young people are involved in organising it. You can read about Global Votes all over the world in the Vote Supplement. In order to have a democratic Global Vote, you need: • Voting register. A list of everyone who has a right to vote.

• Ballot papers. Photocopy the examples on the last page of the Vote Supple­ ment or make your own. • Voting booth. So that noone can see how you vote. • Ballot box. • Paint to prevent cheating. Either tick off names on the voting register, or mark each person’s finger with paint after they have placed their vote in the ballot box. • Election supervisors. Tick off voters on the voting register and give out voting slips. • Voting observers. Oversee the voting and the vote count, and check that all

who have voted get a paint mark. • Vote counters. Count the votes and send in the results. 4. Global Vote Day Decide on a date for your Global Vote in good time. In South Africa and Brazil, for example, whole school dis­ tricts have chosen the same Global Vote Day for all the schools. Some countries are considering introducing a national Global Vote Day. Now you are experts on the rights of the child, who know how to demand respect for those rights. You know all about the prize candidates and the children

Time to celebrate! In the Thar Desert in Pakistan the pupils celebrate their Global Vote as the sun sets with dancing, tea and biscuits. In Santarém, Brazil they hold a dance perform­ ance and eat acai, the fruit of the Amazon. In Sweden, cakes decorated with the WCPRC’s rainbow children are served. Report the results of your vote Don’t forget to report your results for all three candi­ dates by 14 April. All the votes cast all over world are added together. You can put the results of your vote into the ballot box at www.child­, email them to,

Behind the door: The jury children meet

The international child jury 2007, with Queen Silvia after the prize ceremony.

When the door closes at the jury prize meeting, the translators, who are the only adults in the room, know that they must only translate exactly what the jury children say. Before the day is over, the jury must decide on the recipient of their prize, the World’s Children’s Prize.

The jury children, who come from around 15 countries, are themselves experts on the rights of the child through their own experience. They have, for example, been child soldiers, slaves, refugees or lived on the street. They fight for the rights of the child. Each child on the jury

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fax them to +46 159 108 60 or post them to WCPRC, Box 150, 647 24 Mariefred, Sweden. The award ceremony The children will reveal how 2008’s prizes have been awarded at a press conference in Stockholm on 16 April. If you want to know the results, check out You will also be able to fi nd fi lm footage online of this year’s award ceremony, which will take place at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden on 18 April. The award ceremony always takes place in midApril, in memory of Iqbal Masih from Pakistan, the first winner of the WCPRC, who was killed on 16 April 1995.

Now that you are experts on the rights of the child, you can remind and teach adults about the rights of the child, at home, in school, and with journalists and politicians.

5. Your rights! When your country has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which all countries except Somalia and the USA have done, your country has committed to doing all it can to ensure that the rights of the child are respected. Your country must also inform its people, adults and children, about the rights of the child, on an ongoing basis. The WCPRC helps your country to do this. represents all the children in the world who have experienced similar violations of, or struggles for, the rights of the child. You can learn about the different parts of the rights of the child by reading about the jury children in the Vote Supplement or at It’s hard to become a member of the jury. Millions of children all over the world must be able to experience and learn from each jury member’s life. That’s why it is your experience of violations of the rights of the child, or your fight for those rights to be

Time to count the votes in Velankanni’s Global Vote.

You can also express your demands for respect for the rights of the child! Do let your parents read this magazine. 

You can welcome Global Friends! Many schools and pupils all over the world don’t know that they are welcome to become Global Friend schools. You and your school can invite other schools from your area! It’s free for your school to become a Global Friend school. To register a school we need the name and postal address of the school, a contact person at the school (teacher or headteacher) and the total number of pupils. We’ll send the school a Global Friend Certificate. That gives the school the right to work with the World’s Children’s Prize and all the pupils under 18 have the right to vote in the Global Vote.

respected, and your story about this, which determines whether you can join the jury. The jury children must also, if possible, represent all continents and all major religions. When the door opens again on the evening of the 13th of April, we’ll know that the jury are agreed on who is to receive the World’s Children’s Prize 2008. The jury children choose their own chairperson and select five jury members to be on the prize committee that chooses the three candidates for the following year.


There are special adults who are patrons of the World’s Children’s Prize. They are called Honorary Adult Friends. Some of them are patrons for the whole world, others for their country. Queen Silvia of Sweden was the first Honorary Adult Friend. Others include Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, East Timor, President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate José Ramos Horta, East Timor, Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, former Executive Director of Unicef, Carol Bellamy, USA, former Chairman of the UN Security Council and UN UnderSecretary-General for children and armed conflict, Olara Otunnu, Uganda, Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation (USA), philosopher Ken Wilber, USA, and supermodel and former refugee Alek Wek, Sudan and UK. New patrons this year are South African Minister of Education Naledi Pandor and Queen Mother Semane Bonolo Molotlegi, Royal Bafokeng Kingdom. Send in your suggestions for who you’d like to see as an Honorary Adult Friend and tell us why!

Queen Silvia of Sweden. Honorary Adult Friend Nelson Mandela smiles as he reads the cartoon of his life in the prize magazine from 2005.


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Celebrate the rights o

 illustr ation : lot ta mellgren/ester

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (The Child Convention) consists of 54 articles. We have summarised a few of them here. The full text of the Convention can be found at Basic principles of the Convention: • All children have the same rights and are of equal worth. • Every child has the right to have his or her basic needs fulfilled. • Every child has the right to protection from abuse and exploitation. • Every child has the right to express his or her opinion and to be respected.

Article 1 These rights apply to all children under 18.

Article 6 You have the right to life and the right to develop.

Article 2 All children are of equal worth. All children have the same rights and should not be discriminated against. Nobody should treat you badly because of your appearance, your skin colour, your gender, your religion or your opinions.

Article 7 You have the right to a name and a nationality.

Article 3 Those who make decisions affecting children must first and foremost think about what is best for you.

Article 9 You have the right to live with your parents unless it’s bad for you. You have the right to be brought up by your parents, if possible. Articles 12–15 You have the right to say what you think. You are to be consulted and your opinions respected in all matters concerning you – at home, at

school and by the authorities and the courts. Article 18 Your parents are jointly responsible for your upbringing and development. They must always put your interests first. Article 19 You have the right to protection against all forms of violence, neglect, abuse and maltreatment. You should not be exploited by your parents or other guardians. Articles 20–21 You are entitled to receive care if you have lost your family.

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20 November is a day of celebration for all the children in the world. It was on that day in 1989 that the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is known as the Child Convention and applies to you and all other children under 18. All the world’s countries except for Somalia and the USA have ratified (pledged to follow) the Child Convention. This means they are obliged to take children’s rights into consideration and to listen to what children have to say.

I demand respect for the rights of the child!

s of the child Article 22 If you have been forced to leave your country you have the same rights as all the other children in your new country. If you are alone you have the right to special protection and help. If possible you should be reunited with your family. Article 23 All children have the right to a decent life. If you are disabled you have the right to additional support and assistance. Article 24 When you are sick you have the right to receive all the help and care you need. Articles 28 and 29 You have the right to attend school and to learn important things such as respect for other people’s rights and respect for other cultures. Article 30 The thoughts and beliefs of every child should be respected. If you belong to a minority you have the right to your own language, your own culture and your own religion.

Article 31 You have the right to play, rest and live in a healthy environment. Article 32 You should not be forced to perform hazardous work which interrupts or prevents your schooling and which could be harmful to your health. Article 34 No one should subject you to abuse or force you into prostitution. If you are treated badly you are entitled to receive protection and help.


Article 35 No one is allowed to kidnap or sell you. Article 37 No one should punish you in a cruel and harmful manner. Article 38 You never have to be a soldier or take part in an armed conflict. Article 42 All adults and children should know about this convention. You have the right to learn about your rights.


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How are the wor Survive and grow

2.2 BILLION CHILDREN UNDER 18 IN THE WORLD 79 million of these children live in Somalia and the USA, the two countries that have not agreed to honour the rights of the child. All other countries have promised to uphold the rights of the child.

Name and nationality From the day you are born you have the right to have a name and to be registered as a citizen of your home country. Every year, 133 million children are born. Around 48 million of these children are never registered. There is no documented proof that they exist!

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You have the right to life. Every country that has ratified the rights of the child must do all it can to allow children to survive and develop. 1 in 13 children (1 in 6 in the poorest countries) dies before reaching the age of 5, usually due to causes that could have been prevented.

Health and health care You have the right to food, clean water and medical care. Every day 29,000 children under the age of 5 (10.5 million a year) die of illnesses caused by lack of food, clean water, hygiene and health care. Vaccinations against the most common childhood illnesses help save 3 million lives a year. But 1 in 4 children is never vaccinated. Every year, 2 million children die of diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations. Half of all children do not have access to clean water.

A home, clothing, food and security You have the right to a home, food, clothing, education, health care and security. 3 out of 4 of the world’s children live in poverty. Around 600 million children have less than 1 US dollar (0.50 UK pounds) a day to live on. An additional 900 million live on less than 2 US dollars a day.

Children with disabilities If you have a disability you have the same rights as everyone else. You have a right to support to enable you to play an active role in society. Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in the world. In many countries they are not allowed to go to school. Many are treated like inferior beings and are kept hidden away. There are 150 million children with disabilities in the world.

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Children who live on the street

Crime and punishment

You have the right to live in a safe environment. All children have the right to education, medical care and a decent standard of living. For 60 million children, the streets are their only home. An additional 90 million work and spend the day on the street but return home to their families in the evenings.

Children may only be imprisoned as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. No child may be subjected to torture or other cruel treatment. Children who have committed crimes should be given care and help. Children may not be sentenced to life imprisonment or receive the death penalty. At least 1 million children are being held in prison. Imprisoned children are often treated badly.

Hazardous child labour You have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and work that is hazardous to your health or that prevents you from going to school. All work is prohibited for children under 12. Around 200 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work, and for 3 out of 4 of them, this work is harmful to their safety, health, morals and schooling. Some 8.4 million children are forced into the worst forms of child labour, as debt slaves, child soldiers and prostitutes. Every year, 1.2 million children are ‘trafficked’ in the modern day slave trade.

Protection from violence You have the right to protection from all forms of violence, neglect, maltreatment and abuse. Every year 40 million children are beaten so badly that they need medical care. 19 countries have forbidden all forms of corporal punishment for children, so only 2 out of 100 children are fully protected from violence by law. Many countries still allow corporal punishment in schools.

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Minority children Children who belong to minority groups or indigenous peoples have the right to their language, culture and religion. Examples of indigenous peoples include Native Americans, Aborigines in Australia and the Sami people of Northern Europe. The rights of indigenous and minority children are often violated. Their languages are not respected and they are bullied or discriminated against. Many children do not have access to medical care.

You have the right to protection and care in times of war or if you are a refugee. Children affected by conflict and refugee children have the same rights as other children. Over the last 15 years at least 2 million children have been killed in war. 10 million have received serious physical injuries. 1 million have lost or become separated from their parents. 300,000 children have been used as soldiers, carriers or mine clearers (8000 children are killed or injured by mines every year). At least 20 million children have had to flee their homes or countries.

School and education You have the right to go to school. Primary and secondary schooling should be free for everyone. More than 8 out of 10 children in the world go to school, but 117 million children still get no education whatsoever. Nearly 6 out of 10 of them are girls. Over 150 million children, 100 million of them girls, leave school before the fifth grade.

YOUR VOICE MUST BE HEARD! You have the right to say what you think about any issue that affects you. Adults should listen to the child’s opinion before they make decisions, which must always be for the child’s best.

Is this how things are in your country and in the world today? You and the rest of the world’s children know best! 11


orld’s children?

Protection in war and flight

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Queen Silvia of Sweden presents the Global Friends’ Award and the World’s Children’s Prize to Betty Makoni, who is accompanied on stage by Ruth Bikwa and girls Alice Shavi and Lisa Bonongwe.

Dance group Kasm Kathkaars! from India welcome the elegant Queen Silvia and the rest of the audience to Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden.

A prize from 5.2 million voting children

THE GLOBAL FRIENDS’ AWARD and the jury children’s prize



5,228,801 young people under the age of 18 participated in the Global Vote 2007 and chose Betty Makoni of Zimbabwe as their prize laureate. All the candidates received well over a million votes. Through the 500 clubs in the Girl Child Network Betty helps 30,000 girls, taking care of those who are subjected to abuse and protecting others who are at risk of child labour, forced marriage, assault, trafficking and abuse. The international child jury also chose Betty as the recipient of their prize.

Cynthia Maung, accompanied by Saw Romel, receives the World’s Children’s Honorary Award from Queen Silvia. Cynthia is awarded the prize for her 20-year struggle for hundreds of thousands of refugee children in and outside Burma. She runs the Mae Tao Clinic, trains health workers who then return to their villages in Burma, sends hundreds of ‘backpack medics’ into Burma, and runs schools and homes for refugee children. 12 12

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Mary Smart and the other jury members demand respect for the rights of the child in their mother tongues.

Rakesh Kumar, Hassana Hameida Hafed and Idalmin Santana from the jury.


Hannah Taylor, with her speech to Cynthia Maung in her mouth, helps Gabatshwane Gumede get ready for her performance.

Bijay Kumar watches as Queen Silvia presents the prize to Inderjit Khurana. Inderjit believes that if a child can’t go to school, school must come to the child. She opened her first school for children who live and work on station platforms 21 years ago, and her organisation now runs 12 platform schools, 6 nurseries, 75 slum schools, 29 preschools, scholarship programmes for poor children, and more.

Thai Thi Nga from Vietnam presents the children’s thank you bouquet to Queen Silvia.


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World’s Children’s Ombudsman

Historic moment with the

 Text: Magnus bergmar phOTO : ELIN BERGE


mar asked Olara Otunnu to join him on stage and said, “Millions of children are giving you the mission of working for girls’ rights over the next two years: girls’ right to education, and to protection against abuse and in armed conflicts.” “I’m delighted to have received this mission from representatives for millions of children and will do everything in my power, together with children everywhere, to demand respect for girls’ rights,” replied Olara Otunnu. For one year, children everywhere could suggest a mis-

Stop corporal punishment! That’s my mission for the World’s Children’s Ombudsman! Children should be respected and treated with the same dignity as adults. Adults often try to justify corporal punishment by blaming the culture, their own experiences or religion. It can happen at home or in school and you can be kicked, punched, slapped or shoved into the wall. But why should children have to live life on their knees? Children have a right to protection from all forms of violence, neglect, assault and abuse. Despite this, 40 million children all over the world get beaten so badly that they need medical care. Corporal punishment is shameful, insulting, humiliating, frightening and painful. It has to stop, now!” Boaz Ongote Magaka, 15, Kisumu, Kenya

It was a historic moment when the first World’s Children’s Ombudsman (WCO), Olara Otunnu, received his first mission at the prize ceremony from jury chairman Omar Bandak from Palestine. The WCO will focus on girls’ rights until April 2009. sion for the WCO. Then the international child jury selected one mission out of the five most common suggestions submitted. First WCO Olara Otunnu is the first World’s Children’s Ombudsman ever. He is a former Foreign Minister, Chairman of the UN Security Council, Chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission and UN UnderSecretary-General for children and armed conflict. “I became a global citizen

early on in life, at home in northern Uganda. My father was a travelling evangelist in neighbouring countries like Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania. I kept track of where he was by looking at the stamps on his letters. When I was seven, I became my dad’s foreign correspondent. He sent me to the shop to listen to the news, then I’d run home fast, so that I didn’t forget, and recite the news of what was happening in the world from memory.” 

Questions and missions for the WCO You can send the WCO a mission by emailing mission@worldschildrens or send him a question by emailing question@worldschildrens

“I would like the World’s Children’s Ombudsman to visit all the countries in the world to make sure that all children get to go to school. Children’s right to education

they want – priests, shoemakers, teachers, doctors. But to reach your goals in the future, first you have to go to school!” Portia Arhinful Brew, 14, Kumasi, Ghana


is important! You can’t survive if you haven’t been to school. A baker can’t sell his bread if he can’t count. A driver can’t find his way if he can’t read. Children have a right to become whatever

FOTO : tor a mårtens

School for all

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Iqbal Masih

Anne Frank

Hector Pieterson

Asfaw Yemiru

Barefoot College

Children’s Peace Movement

Nkosi Johnson

Maiti Nepal

Casa Allianza

Maggy Barankitse

James Aguer

Previous Laureates of the World’s Children’s Prize 2000 In the first year, three children from the billions who had their rights violated during the 20th century were honoured post­humously. The World’s Children’s Prize Iqbal Masih, former debt slave in a carpet factory in Pakistan, for his fight for the rights of child debt slaves. The World Children’s Honorary Award Anne Frank, Holland and Hector Pieterson, South Africa.

2001 The World’s Children’s Prize & The Global Friends’ Award Asfaw Yemiru, Ethiopia, was a street child at the age of 9. At 14, he opened his first school for street children underneath an oak tree. Since then he has devoted 45 years to giving underprivileged children in Ethiopia the chance to go to school. World’s Children’s Honorary Award Barefoot College, India, for their 30year pioneering efforts, including their creation of a Children’s Parliament and evening schools in Rajasthan. Children’s Peace Movement, Colombia, which helps children campaign against the war and runs activities to bring happiness to children.

2002 The World’s Children’s Prize & The Global Friends’ Award Nkosi Johnson, South Africa, (posthumously) who fought for the rights of children suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Pastoral da Criança

Prateep Ungsongtham Hata

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The World’s Children’s Prize Maiti Nepal, which fights the trafficking of poor girls from Nepal to India where they are forced to work as slaves in brothels, and which rehabilitates girls who have been affected by trafficking. The World’s Children’s Honorary Award Casa Allianza, Central America, which works for children who live on the street.

2003 The World’s Children’s Prize Maggy Barankitse, Burundi, who has, over 10 years, saved tens of thousands of orphaned children in war-torn Burundi and given them a home, love and schooling. The Global Friends’ Award James Aguer, Sudan, who has, over 15 years, freed thousands of kidnapped children from slave work in Sudan. James has been imprisoned 33 times and two of his colleagues have been murdered. The World’s Children’s Honorary Award Pastoral da Criança, Brazil, which works to reduce infant mortality and malnourishment among poor children.

2004 The World’s Children’s Prize & The Global Friends’ Award Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, Thailand, was a child worker at the age of ten. Since starting her first school at the age of 16, she has spent 35 years fighting to give the neediest children the chance to go to school.

Paul, Mercy Baskar

Liz Gaynes/ Emani Davis

The 20 mothers of St. Rita

survive by sharing food, clothes, schooling, homes, healthcare and love.

The World’s Children’s Honorary Award Paul and Mercy Baskar, India, who for 20 years have fought against hazardous child labour. Liz Gaynes and Emani Davis, USA, who for 20 years have worked defending the rights of children of prisoners.

World’s Children’s Honorary Award Jetsun Pema, Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s sister has been working for the rights of refugee children for 40 years.



The World’s Children’s Prize The 20 mothers of St. Rita, Kenya, who for the past eight years have been fighting for the rights of AIDS orphans. The Global Friends’ Award Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel, South Africa and Mozambique. Mandela for his life-long struggle for equal rights for all children in South Africa and his work to defend their rights. Machel for her 20-year-long fight for the rights of vulnerable children in Mozambique, in particular for girls’ rights. The World’s Children’s Honorary Award Ana María Marañon de Bohorquez, Bolivia, who for the past 20 years has fought for children living on the streets of Cochabamba.

2006 World’s Children’s Prize Craig Kielburger, Canada, who at the age of 12 founded Free The Children. He fights for young people’s right to make their voices heard and to liberate children from poverty and violations of their rights. Global Friends’ Award AOCM, Rwanda, 6000 people orphaned by the genocide in Rwanda, who help each other to

Nelson Mandela/ Graça Machel

Ana María Marañon de Bohorquez

The World’s Children’s Prize & The Global Friends’ Award Betty Makoni, Zimbabwe, who through the Girl Child Network empowers girls to demand their rights, supports those who are exposed to abuse and protects others from assault, forced marriage, trafficking and sexual abuse. The World’s Children’s Honorary Award Cynthia Maung, Burma, who has fought for the health and education of hundreds of thousands of refugee children for 20 years, both under the military dictatorship in Burma and in refugee camps in Thailand. Inderjit Khurana, India, who has been running over a hundred schools and two telephone help­ lines for 21 years, helping some of India’s poorest children – those who live and work on the station platforms.

Betty Makoni


Cynthia Maung

Craig Kielburger

Inderjit Khurana

Jetsun Pema


07-11-09 13.25.44

NOMINEE • Pages 16–41

Josefina Condori Josefina and her colleagues meet a lot of children in the villages in the Andes. Yanapanakusun works with the village schools to raise awareness about the situation for domestic workers in Cusco.

J Dionisia was ten years old, tired and alone in the dark when Josefina Condori met her for the first time outside one of the evening schools in the city of Cusco. The family whose house Dionisia had worked in had thrown her out. She had nowhere to go. Josefina made a snap decision. She would give girls like Dionisia a home, love, and the knowledge to be able to fight for their rights.

Dionisia. That very night, when Dionisia had fallen asleep in a corner of their oneroom apartment, Josefi na said to Vittoria and Ronald, “We must do more to help these girls. In the future I want to build a house, where all girls who need help can come. Until then, they must live here with us.”

osefi na started the organisation Yanapanakusun in 1994 to help girls and women who work as maids in the city of Cusco in Peru. Josefi na herself worked for a family in the daytime. In the evenings she went around the city’s evening schools, along with Vittoria and Ronald who helped her start the organisation. They told people that all domestic workers have the right to a decent wage, the right to a day off every Sunday and the right to always be treated with respect. It was on one of these evenings that Josefi na met

Dreams of Lima Josefi na’s own story begins when she is seven years old and lives with her family in a village in southern Peru. She is sitting in her favourite spot, perched on a rock that looks like a horse crying. Her dad is dead. Continued on page 18

WHY HAS JOSEFINA BEEN NOMINATED? Josefina Condori has been nominated for the 2008 WCPRC for her long struggle for girls who work as maids in Peru, often in slave-like conditions. Many of the hundreds of thousands of domestic workers face abuse in the homes in which they work. Josefina, who has been a maid herself, has been fighting for the rights of domestic workers since she was a teenager. In 1994 she founded Yanapanakusun, an organisation that runs a home for vulnerable girls and a centre for domestic workers. Josefina and Yanapanakusun run courses and do preventive work in 30 villages in the Andes mountain range around Cusco. They also broadcast five radio shows and run a hotel, a farm and a school for girls and boys who work. 500 girls have lived in the home. Tens of thousands have received support and help from the drop-in centre. Josefina gives the girls food, clothes, shoes, healthcare, a home, the chance to go to school, security and love. More than anything else, however, she works to ensure that child workers know their rights and are able to demand respect for those rights.

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The invisible girls At least five percent of all girls in Peru – 560,000 girls – work as maids. They clean, do laundry, cook food, care for children or carry out other household tasks. It’s well known that life is difficult for boys who live on the street, but girls suffer behind closed doors and few people are aware of their problems.

“Don’t be so grateful!” “Do I have to say thank you for being allowed to breathe? No, of course not!” says Josefina. She explains that many of the child workers have had to learn to be grateful for everything. They don’t expect to be treated well. “Of course it’s important to be polite and say thank you, but I try to teach the girls that good treatment, respect, being able to see your parents and time to play and rest are not a gift. They are the rights of the child!”

Welcome to the Inca city All over Cusco, the rainbow flag is flying. The rainbow was a symbol for the kingdom of the Incas that stretched along the length of the Andes mountain range until the Spanish invaded the area in the 16th century. Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire, and now the rainbow flag is the city’s own symbol.

Hi friend! There are many ways to greet new friends in the villages in the Andes. If Edwin, 12, sees someone with whom he wants to make friends, he picks up a little pebble and throws it. Here he is throwing a stone to Clorinda, 14. When she notices the stone that has landed by her feet, they can start talking to each other.


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Josefina and the girls eat together every evening.

Without her dad to take care of their farm in the jungle, the family soon grow poorer. Before long they can afford neither food nor clothes. “And there’s no point in harping on about going to school,” Josefina’s mother tells her. “You have to help out at home, school is for boys.” Her whole life feels empty since her father died.

Josefina starts to dream of moving to the capital city, Lima. She knows that many girls from her area have moved there to work. “I would be able to go to school there, and buy pretty clothes. And shoes! And sweets!” Josefina thinks. So when Josefina’s mother tells her that she is going to live with a relative in Lima she is delighted.

Beaten and thrown out Lima isn’t anywhere near as beautiful as Josefina imagined. She has to live in a cramped, dirty room with her cousin and his family. “I’ve made a mistake!” thinks Josefina. She lives in that little room for five years. She sleeps on the floor and often cries herself to sleep. In the daytime she takes care of her cousin’s children, sweeps the floor,

and washes clothes and dishes. Josefina doesn’t like going out because the children in the neighbourhood laugh at her because she speaks Quechua, not Spanish. Her cousin’s wife shouts orders in Spanish. When Josefina misunderstands her and does something wrong she gets kicked and beaten. “Chola,” the woman yells, “you’re stupid and lazy!”

Josefina has found some baby clothes for Miriam’s baby, who is only two days old. Miriam, 16, has lived in the home for three months. She was thrown out of the house where she worked when the mother discovered that she was pregnant.

Josefina is often a guest speaker on Yanapanakusun’s radio show. It’s a great way of raising awareness among the girls who are maids and who aren’t allowed to go out.


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Josefina (centre) with her mother near her home village. When Josefina was reunited with her mother after 10 years, they could hardly talk to each other. Josefina had almost forgotten her mother tongue, Quechua.

When Josefina (right) starts school at age 12, she meets lots of other girls who also work as maids. Finally, she finds friends who understand her.

One day, her cousin’s child gets hurt. “It wasn’t my fault,” Josefi na tries to explain, but her cousin’s wife doesn’t believe her. She brings out a knife and threatens to kill Josefi na. When Josefi na is twelve, she plucks up the courage to ask her cousin for permission to go to school. “Ungrateful girl, who would take care of our child then? Get out,” says her cousin. He opens the door and

suddenly Josefi na is alone on the street. But she’s lucky. Through a neighbour she fi nds a new job with a family in another part of Lima. At last, she is allowed to start attending evening school. Slowly she learns to read, write and count. At evening school, Josefi na fi nally makes real friends. The other girls work too. One of them takes Josefi na to an association for domestic workers. They meet every Sunday. They talk about their experiences

and try to solve each other’s problems, together. And they laugh a lot! Mum! When Josefi na is 17, she wants to fi nd her family. She fi nds her cousin in Lima and he tells her how to get back to her village. Her cousin is pleased to see her, because when she disappeared after being thrown out, her mother went to the police and reported her missing. Josefi na fi nds her mother. It has been ten years since

they last saw each other, and there’s so much she wants to tell her. But she can hardly talk! Over the years she has forgotten her mother tongue because the families for whom she worked wouldn’t let her speak Quechua.

Her search for the girls’ roots and birth certificates has led Josefina back and forward through the Andes mountain range. Many people now know about her work and help Yanapanakusun in their struggle to defend girls’ rights.


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“I’ve missed you so much,” says Josefina, and they cry together. Back in Lima, Josefina continues to go to school every evening. When she is 23, she finally gets a degree. She is so proud! Her new friend Vittoria congratulates her. They met at the association for domestic workers and they plan to move to Cusco to start a similar association there. Cusco is a city in the Andes mountain range. Several hundred years ago it was the capital of the Inca kingdom, and it is still a major city where lots of girls go to find work. Josefina, Vittoria and Ronald move in to a one-room apartment. When they start their work at the evening schools they realise that the situation for domestic workers in Cusco is even worse than in Lima. Most of the maids are young girls who are alone in the city, and many are only five or six years old. Most come from villages high up in the mountains, only speak Quechua, and have no contact with their families.

started its own school for girls and boys who work in Cusco. Now Yanapanakusun, Josefina’s organisation, has actually built the big house that Josefina dreamed of for the girls. They also have a small hotel, where guests from all over the world come to stay, and a radio studio to raise awareness about the domestic workers. Their work is making progress, but Josefina still meets opposition from the police, lawyers and judges who want to shut the house down. “They don’t want to listen to the girls,” says Josefina. “The girls who we help have been let down so many times, and they have never really felt loved. That’s why we want to show that we really do care about them.” 

Games and movement are important for self-esteem and add to the fun of going to school. Physical education is a vital part of Yanapana­kusun’s education programme.

What do Josefina and Yanapanakusun do? • They run a home where young girls who do domestic work can get accommodation, clothes and care. • They find the girls’ families and help the girls to get identity documents. • They run a help centre for girls and women who do domestic work in Cusco. • They broadcast five radio programmes to raise awareness about the girls’ situations and rights among the girls themselves, their families, employers and wider society. • They run preventive work in villages and towns in the mountains around Cusco. • They run the Maria Angola evening school for girls and boys who work in Cusco. • They run a vocational school for girls who do domestic work. • They run a farm in the Inca people’s sacred valley. • They run a hotel and travel agency.

‘We help each other’ Josefina founded Yanapanakusun with Vittoria Savio Gilardi and Ronald Zarate Herrera in 1994. Yanapanakusun means ‘we help each other’ in Quechua. The organisation runs lots of projects. The most important is Caith, which is the title of Josefina’s work with the domestic workers.

We care Soon, Josefina’s work is entirely focused on helping Cusco’s invisible working girls. First they help the girls to get a birth certificate. This is difficult, however, for many of them have forgotten their surnames and where they come from. Josefina often has to take long trips to the villages in the mountains. When she visits the villages she takes the opportunity to tell people about the situation for girls who work in Cusco. Once the girls have a birth certificate they can finally start school. Most of them attend state schools, but Josefina’s organisation has 20

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is free on the mountain


osia doesn’t want to get up this morning. It’s still warm under the wool blanket woven by her father, but it’s cold outside the bed. Tiny crystals of ice lie over the house and the village like a white veil. Rosia’s sandals are stiff from the frost, and soon her feet are aching from the cold. The little village is 4300 metres above sea level,

so despite it being close to the equator, the nights are always cold there. Rosia runs to the tap, then back to the house, then on the spot to warm her feet up. At least it’s dry. During the rainy season she wakes up to snow and mud every morning. When breakfast is ready, Rosia wakes her brother José and sister Jeovana. Their mum and dad aren’t

home. They got up long before dawn to walk down the mountain to the family’s corn fields, three hours away. Rosia’s mum told her to take care of her brother and sister. But they just splash a little water on their faces instead of washing properly – the water in the well is ice cold. “Don’t tell mum,” says Rosia, and giggles. Bad eyesight Rosia takes her siblings with her to the light blue school. Inside the stone walls of the playground, the children play football. Rosia loves football. The boys play against the girls and Rosia is not afraid to tackle to get the

Rosia Sencia Peña, 11 Likes: Being on the mountain with the sheep. Favourite food: Boiled potatoes. Wants: A pair of pale leather shoes. Loves: Her brother José, 8, and sister Jeovana, 5. Playing football. Hates: Arguments and fighting, and when children treat each other cruelly. Dreams of: Working as a maid, earning money and buying beautiful clothes. Proud of: The skirt my dad made for me.


High up on the mountain, Rosia feels free. She runs around with the sheep and plays with her brother and sister. Today she’s imagining that she works in the city of Cusco and has lovely new clothes. Suddenly she’s brought back to reality by the death cry of a sheep! She runs towards the sheep and the grey fox, but it’s too late…


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Stamped potato – yum! Every day after school, Rosia helps her dad to dry potatoes. The family can store dried potato all winter and it doesn’t go off. 1. Choose fairly small potatoes. Lay them in the sun to dry out.

2. After two days, it’s time to stamp on the potatoes, so that the skin breaks and the moisture comes out.

3. Repeat the stamping part a few times, until the potatoes are dry and black.

ball. She dribbles it up the field and scores! The other girls cheer and jump and Rosia stretches her arms up into the air. In the classroom, Rosia is not as sure of herself. She likes going to school. But the strong sunlight on the mountain has damaged her eyes and she finds it hard to see what the teacher writes on the board. Her mum wants to take her to the doctor, but first they have to save up to pay the doctor and the four-hour journey there. Until then, Rosia has to keep straining her eyes and having a headache by lunchtime. Longing for shoes School finishes at noon every day. Rosia takes her sister’s hand and they head back up the mountain. They’re going to find the sheep. “I feel free on the mountain,” says Rosia.

She has a sling that she uses to throw small stones, to make the flock of sheep head homewards in the evening. Rosia likes the swishing noise the sling makes. Sometimes she plays with other children who herd sheep on the mountain, but most days she and her brother and sister are alone. Then she likes to sit on the mountain, watch the sheep and imagine things. She dreams of going to Cusco to work. Rosia has seen lots of girls from the village jump on the back of a lorry and disappear off towards the exciting world of the city. “I’d like to work and earn money. Then I’d buy beautiful clothes. First I’d buy a yellow cardigan with shiny buttons. And shoes! I’d love a pair of shoes,” says Rosia. Rosia’s mum worked in Cusco when she was young. She has told Rosia about the cars and the fruit stalls that overflow with apples, oranges and mangoes. “But I only want to work for people I know, not for a family of strangers. I’d like it best if I could go to Cusco with my mum,” says Rosia.

4. Grind the dried potato to make potato flour, and use it in sauces, soups and stews.



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The grey fox comes Suddenly a sheep gives a heart-rending cry and Rosia is brought out of her daydream. Her brother and sister scream too, because they can see the grey fox’s shiny teeth biting the sheep’s neck. Blood spills out over the wool. Rosia runs over to the fox and the sheep. She throws a stone to scare the fox away, but it’s too late. Her white sheep is dead. “What are we going to do? Mum will be angry and beat us,” says José and stares at the sheep in Rosia’s arms, terrified.

It’s normal for parents to smack their children, but Rosia knows that their mother will not do that. She will shout at them though, and she’ll be angry. On the way home, Rosia is sad and quiet. She carries the sheep and her top gets covered in blood. There’s no electricity in the village, so when the sun has set and her mum’s finished shouting at her, Rosia sits alone in the dark outside the house. “I’m going to leave,” she thinks, as her tears flow. “Everything will be better if I go away.” 

Rosia with her family outside their house, in the middle of the village.

Many of the children in the village don’t eat breakfast. Without food in their stomachs, they get unruly and restless in the classroom. So some of parents in the village give the children a cup of porridge in the morning. Once every two weeks it’s Rosia’s mother’s turn to bring the children’s morning snack.


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Why do the girls want to move to the city? • Families in rural areas are often extremely poor. Some girls go to the city to get away from the hunger and cold. • The schools in the villages are small and only have about three or four grades. Some girls move to the city to continue their education. • Alcoholism and violence are common problems in poor villages. Some girls move to the city to get away from abuse at home.

Car tyre sandals

Most of the girls who move to the cities in Peru know very little about what awaits them. Girls who do domestic work often have to work very hard and are isolated in the homes where they work, even more so before they learn Spanish. They are often treated badly and subjected to abuse. That’s why Josefina and Yanapanakusun work with the village schools to inform children and adults about what life can be like for domestic workers.

Rosia and most of the other children in the villages outside Cusco wear sandals – summer and winter. They are called ushuta and they used to be made from llama hide. Now they’re made from old car tyres. Rosia and her classmates love playing football. The stone walls of the schoolyard form the sidelines.


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I am great!

“I am great! I am great!” The cry bounces off the houses and the mountains. Dimitri from Josefina’s organisation, Yanapanakusun, has arrived on his motorbike on the new gravel road, the first road ever to reach the little village. It is one of 30 villages that Yanapanakusun visit regularly.


he students in year five and year six play, talk, write lists and draw all morning. It’s all about dignity. It’s a difficult word and it takes a while to figure out what it really means. “Dignity is respecting yourself and others,” says Regina. “Exactly,” says Dimitri. “We may be poor, but we are still worthy of respect. You must make an effort in school and be friendly to adults, but the adults also have to be kind to you. Noone should hit you or treat

you badly.” Lidia looks thoughtful. When her father comes home drunk, things often end in arguments and fighting. That’s disrespectful, Lidia thinks. “I get angry when my dad behaves in that way,” she says. Lidia and the other students have talked a lot about drunken parents and adults. Many adults here drink alcohol in order to forget their difficult work, hunger and poverty. But the children never forget.

Lidia Garate Luza, 13

“I used to dream of moving to Cusco or Lima, but now my dream is for another school to be built here in our village,” says Lidia. “I want to finish high school and then open a shop. I’ll sell bread, noodles, potatoes and sugar. I really want to live here. But I’ll never, ever drink alcohol and when I get married my husband won’t drink either.” 

Likes: Playing in the school playground. Doesn’t like: When adults argue and hit each other. Demands: That my dad respects my friends and me. Misses: Mum. She died when I was small. Looks up to: Dimitri, who teaches us about the rights of the child. You use your whole body in Yanapanakusun’s lessons.


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Stop drunken teachers Jeni Maribel Piñe Pucyura, 9 Likes: Maths, it’s logical and simple. Hates: Drunken adults. Wants to be: A librarian, so that I can read all the books.

Jeni Maribel loves going to school and loves doing sums. But today is Monday and the class is not going to learn anything new.


eni Maribel and the other children sit very still when they hear the teacher coming. He smells of sweat and alcohol. He starts to shout at them straight away. “Why has no-one pulled out my chair? You are worthless, stupid farmers’ kids! How did I end up in this dump?” The teacher comes from Cusco, but works in Jeni Maribel’s little village. Lots of adults from the city look

down on the people in rural areas. That’s why the teacher doesn’t care about his job. He’s often drunk and today, like most Mondays, he falls asleep with his head on the desk. The children sit quietly all day. When the teacher wakes up he takes off his belt to strike someone’s fi ngers. At the end of the school day, the children gather behind Jeni Maribel’s house. “We have to do some-

thing,” she says. They decide that they should all go home to their parents and tell them about the teacher. Jeni Maribel tells her parents about the beating and how the drunken teacher shouts at the children. That evening, the parents gather and go to the police. The next day, the teacher doesn’t come. The pupils are alone in the classroom every day that week. The next Monday, however, two new teachers arrive. “We have heard about your problems. But we promise never to come to school drunk. We will treat you with respect, just as you respect us as teachers,” they promise. Jeni Maribel is proud. Together with her classmates, they managed to get rid of the drunken teacher. “They should throw all bad teachers in jail!” she says. “Not only teachers, but all adults who beat children or treat them badly.” 

Jessica Quispe, 11, and Juli Borrientos, 9, have clothes from the Tinta area, south of Cusco.

Victor Manuel Meza, 10, and Marco Antonio Luna Huisa, 11, are wearing outfits from the harvest celebrations in the Tinta area.


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Cusco’s wardrobe Clorinda Cachira Owepe, 15 Happy: When I dance. Sad: When our llamas and sheep die because of the cold in the winter. Angry: At adults who force girls to work day and night without a single day off. Wants: To dance on the mountainside again.

Rosemery Ugarte, 12, is wearing an outfit that came to Peru with the Spanish conquerors several hundred years ago.

Reyna Caceres Puma, 10, and Carlos Enrique Contreras, 11, are wearing clothes from Chicchinccha. They are called the cowboys of the Andes, since lots of people in that area have horses and cows.

Sabina Yahaira, 5, is wearing a Tincus costume from the area around Lake Titicaca in southern Peru.

Jose Nicolas Ccapatinta Lopez, 12, is wearing a Canchi costume that is used in one of the oldest Indian dances. The dance is about drying potatoes.

At you can watch two video clips of Clorinda and her school friends dancing.


The children in the Cusco area love to dance and sing. There are lots of beautiful clothes to wear and dances to learn. Some originate from the Inca period and others have their roots in Spain. During June and July there is one party after another. The most important festival in Cusco is called Inti Raymi and dates from the time when the Incas celebrated the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.

Clorinda dances the clifftop dance “I love to dance! But I need space to be able to dance the way I want to. My village is near a mountain called Apu, which means ’God’ in Quechua. It’s the highest and most sacred mountain near Cusco. Every winter we have a big party here, and everybody in the village dances. The girls get the most carried away. The place where we celebrate the festival is on the mountain, beside a steep slope. The old people in the village tell stories of girls that danced so wildly that they fell off the cliff. Once I nearly fell off! But my dad grabbed me.”

Gregorio Cansaya Quispe, 10, is wearing a devil costume from a traditional dance from the Paucartamzo area, near the Peruvian jungle.

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Tired and lonely in


Nobody sees me

Treated like a dog “I have to sit in the kitchen and eat leftovers like a dog. Sometimes I don’t get any food at all. Once I was so hungry that I searched the bins behind the house for something to eat. It made me think it would have been better if I’d never been born.” Reyna, 11

Most of the girls who come to Cusco to work are from the rural areas in the mountains that surround the city. They dream of a life in the city; of education and of pretty clothes. The reality, however, is often more like a jail sentence.

“The wife cooks the food, but I have to peel all the vegetables and make sure the stove stays lit. Afterwards I’m the one who washes the dishes and cleans up. People think she’s a good cook. That makes me angry. No-one ever notices that I help.” Fany, 12

Pulls my hair “I wash the whole family’s clothes. The worst part is when the children have spilt fruit juice on their white tops. It’s hard to get the stains out and if I can’t manage it then the mother gets angry. She yells and pulls my hair.” Carmen Celia, 13

Never go out “I never go out. I’d get lost and who would I ask for directions? I don’t speak Spanish. My employer also says that I could get mugged and beaten on the street, or that the police might take me in. That scares me.” Laydi, 12


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Valeria falls asleep at her desk

Shouts and swears “The man of the house gets angry really easily. It doesn’t matter what I do, he always shouts at me. He swears, really loud. It makes me want to cut my ears off.” Juli, 13

At evening school, the girls get the opportunity to use computers. Most of them only get to dust the computers in the houses where they live.

Josefina meets girls at the evening schools Visiting the different evening schools is an important part of Josefina and Yanapanakusun’s work. That’s where they make contact with girls who need help and support. The evening schools are really for adult domestic workers, but many of the students are children. Employers often don’t let the girls go to normal schools, but they do let them go to evening school after their day’s work is complete. Some girls are only allowed to go once a week. That’s why the evening schools organise extra lessons on Saturdays and Sundays.

Valeria fell asleep today, with her head on her reading book and her arms on her knees. The teacher at Cusco’s biggest evening school wakes her gently. It’s not the first time he’s seen a girl exhausted by her day’s work. Even so, Valeria is ashamed. She wants to do well at school, but it’s hard when her eyes are smarting and her arms are heavy as lead. “I get up just before six in the morning. The whole house is cold and I hurry to get started with the cleaning to warm up a bit. If I’m lucky, the two boys sleep until half past seven. Then I have time to do some homework before they wake up. The mother goes to work when I wake up, so it’s my job to get the boys dressed and take the older one to nursery. The younger boy is only one year old. I take care of him and play with him all day. I like it when he laughs and he likes me too. At midday I give the boys lunch and wash them. Then I look after them and do laundry for the rest of the afternoon. Most of the time it’s easy, but sometimes my employers get angry. Last week I was playing with the boys in the street when the man of the house came home. There were no cars there, so it wasn’t dangerous, but he got really angry and called me an idiot. I felt stupid and sad. At six in the evening I go to school. It’s the best part of the day, but I’m always so tired. I get headaches and I can hardly even hold my pen. That’s why I don’t do so well at school. I’m too tired to concentrate on what the teacher says. I wish I could go to school in the daytime like other children. But I have to work, so it’s impossible. At half past nine I come back to the house. Then I have to do the dinner dishes and I try to eat something before I collapse into bed.”

Valeria Llamacehima Churata, 13 Likes: Crafts and making earrings. Gets sad: When I think about my mum and how she used to laugh and hug me. Dream: To be a nurse.


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Luz Garda finds her way home

Luz Garda is 11 and is sitting on a bus, on the way to a city whose name she doesn’t know. She has run away. Now she’s alone, hungry and a long way from shouting relatives and pawing men’s hands. A woman dressed in pretty clothes sits down next to her. “Do you need help?”


uz Garda is only wearing a thin t-shirt on. The woman wraps her in a blanket and smiles at her. “We’re on the way to Cusco,” she says. “It’s a big city, but don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”

This cheers Luz Garda up. Finally, an adult who cares about her! Until now she hasn’t felt welcome anywhere. When she was six, her stepfather sent her away to live with an aunt in town and go to school. But it was several years before her aunt decided she had enough money to pay for school fees. Luz Garda had to help clean the house and work in her aunt’s little shop instead. One day, Luz Garda’s sisters were waiting for her

outside the door. Surprised, she hugged them. She had missed her older sisters ever since they left the village many years ago. “You’re coming to live with us now,” said her sisters. So she left her aunt’s house without saying goodbye or telling her where she was going. Life with her sisters didn’t turn out as Luz Garda had hoped, however. She quit school to take care of her nephew. The sisters worked in a bar from the afternoon until late at night. But the worst thing was the boyfriend of one of the sisters. When Luz Garda’s sister was at work he tried to take her clothes off and touch her. When Luz Garda told her sister she was furious. “Don’t lie about my boyfriend,” she screamed and slapped Luz Garda in the face. “Get out!”

It’s the first time Luz Garda and her best friend Adaluse have been to Cusco’s annual market. The families they worked for before wouldn’t let them have time off. It’s the first time they’ve eaten candyfloss and been on a carousel or a ferris wheel.

So Luz Garda walked out the door, went to the bus station and bought a ticket for all the money she had. That’s how she ended up sitting next to the beautiful woman on the bus to Cusco. Dream became a nightmare The fi rst week goes like a dream. Luz Garda sleeps well and in the daytime she helps the woman to sweep the floors in the house. But the woman starts to ask Luz Garda to do more and more. Cook dinner, do the dishes, wash the clothes, dust, rinse the vegetables, do


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Looks up to: Josefina. She is like a mother to me.

Luz Garda buys carousel tickets with money she has earned working for the family who employ her now. They are kind and fair.


the shopping, clean the windows. The chores keep growing and the woman gets more and more annoyed. Since Luz Garda comes from a village that doesn’t have electricity, she has never used an iron before. One day she burns a hole in one of the woman’s blouses. When the woman notices it she fl ies into a rage. “You are ungrateful and Luz Garda lazy. I should hand you over Callapiña Chani, 16 to the police,” she hisses. Likes: Dancing, listening Luz Garda works every to music, reading books, day of the week, from seven shopping. in the morning until bedtime Favourite book: Harry Potter. at half past nine. She tries to Favourite music: Reggaeton. do all her jobs right but the Dreams of: Becoming an artist woman always fi nds someor a tourist guide. thing to complain about.

Maids’ rights One day at the market, Luz Garda meets a girl standing beside the bread stall. “Hi, are you a maid too?” asks the girl. Luz Garda nods in surprise. The girl says that even people who work as maids


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have the right to go to school, the right to a day off every Sunday, and the right to get paid. Luz Garda isn’t allowed any of those things, but how can she dare to speak to the woman? Luz Garda never sees the girl again. Sometimes she wonders if it was an angel that she met that day next to the bread stall. She thinks about what the girl said every day. But each time she tries to talk about her rights the woman just laughs. One night Luz Garda runs away again. She runs until she feels like her lungs are going to burst and nobody follows her. That night she sleeps in a square in the centre of Cusco. When the police wake her she’s cold and afraid.

The police keep Luz Garda locked up for days. In the end though, she gets sent to Josefi na and Yanapanakusun. Around 15 girls of different ages share a dormitory there. All of them come from small villages outside Cusco and have worked for families that have treated them badly. Josefi na asks lots of questions, but Luz Garda doesn’t answer them. She just stares back in silence. She can’t trust anyone any longer. Trusts Josefina For a long time, Luz Garda does her best to annoy Josefi na. She is unpleasant, refuses to help out and doesn’t want to make friends with any of the other girls. Josefi na is patient though.

Luz Garda needed her birth certificate to be able to go back to school.

Luz Garda’s wardrobe Dancing clothes These two bags are Luz Garda’s wardrobe where she keeps her clothes.

“I love dancing to reggaeton music. I’ve done a few dance courses to help me learn to dance better. It’s important to wear heeled shoes when you dance.”

Work clothes “They’re not that nice, so it doesn’t matter if they get dirty.”

Work shoes Dancing shoes


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She understands that it is Luz Garda’s way of showing that she is sad and angry. After she has been at the house for a year, Josefi na says, “I think we should fi nd your family.” At fi rst Luz Garda is scared. She doesn’t want to meet the family members she ran away from. In the end, however, she agrees. During the long bus journey, she chats to Josefi na. It feels like the fi rst time they have had a proper conversation. At her aunt’s house, Luz Garda gets a copy of her birth certificate. That means that she can start school again. Then Luz Garda plucks up the courage to say, “I’m sorry that I ran away.” “I’m sorry for the times we didn’t treat you as well as

we should have,” says her aunt. On the way back to Cusco everything is different. Luz Garda has fi nally decided to trust Josefi na. My new family Now Luz Garda is 16. During the day she works for a family who pay her well, and in the evening she goes to school. Then she comes home to Josefi na’s house and the room that she shares with Fortuna and Adaluse. “The best thing of all is that I’ve got a family here at Yanapanakusun. My room mates are like sisters to me,” says Luz Garda. “Now I can be glad and happy. And when I’m sad I can cry without being scared.” 

Luz Garda’s favourite sweets.

Luz Garda and her best friend, Adaluse, are both in their final year at the Yanapanakusun school, Maria Angola.

Sport clothes “I wear my new clothes when I play and do sports. My favourite game is double skipping. I do a lot of sport to keep warm because it’s so cold here in Cusco.”

Sport shoes


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Try speaking Quechua

Right to two languages

Hi I’m fine brother (to a boy) I’m fine sister (to a girl) What’s your name? Yes No Thanks Bye/See you soon I love you

Both Spanish and Quechua are official languages in Peru. Spanish is sometimes thought to be a better language because most of the people in the cities who have money and power only speak Spanish. Many of the poor people in the mountains only speak Quechua. Often when a girl moves to the city to work, she can’t speak to anyone. The family she works for refuse to speak Quechua and she has never learned Spanish. After a couple of years, once she has learned Spanish, it wouldn’t be unusual for her to forget how to speak Quechua. This means that if she ever gets the chance to see her family again she won’t be able to talk to them. “That’s why it’s important that the girls learn Spanish and have the chance to maintain their mother tongue,” says Josefina. ”It’s not just about language. It’s also about holding on to your history and your self esteem.”

Allillanchu kashanki Allillanmi waykey Allillanmi panay Ima’n sutiki? Ari Manan Diospagarasunki Tupananchis cama Noka munakuyki

Gregorio will teach you to count to ten in Quechua at!

Luz Garda’s schoolbag and school things.

The Harry Potter books are Luz Garda’s favourites. “I like the sense of loyalty between the three friends. And Harry has magic powers that he develops the more he learns. I want to develop my talents in the same way.”

Summer clothes

Winter clothes

”These are my beach clothes. I went to Lima once and saw the Pacific Ocean!” Sunglasses

Sun hat “When I walk in the mountains I wear this sun hat. You have to protect your head from the strong sunlight, otherwise you might faint.”

The duck bag comes from Lake Titicaca in southern Peru.


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A school for girls and boys

7.15 am Time to wake up During the winter months, Josefina wakes the girls at quarter past seven. That gives them just enough time to make their beds, get ready and eat breakfast before some of them head for school. “It’s cold in the house, so they get to stay in their warm beds as long as possible,” says Josefina. In the summer, when the sun’s warmth comes earlier, they get up at half past six.

7.45 am To school Clorinda, 15, hurries down the street towards school. She and half of the girls in the house go to school in the daytime. The others go in the evening.


Josefina’s organisation runs the Maria Angola evening school. It is open to any children who work, both girls and boys. The girls are often domestic workers or help their relatives with housework. The boys often live on their own, sometimes renting a bed and sometimes sleeping on the street. They might work as dishwashers, street sellers, or as assistants at bakeries or workshops. But both the boys and the girls are often really lonely and feel worthless. They have to work hard and they’re often tired. Many people think it’s hard to work in groups, since they’ve never learned to cooperate by playing or studying with other children. The students at Maria Angola get to learn lots of things, but most importantly they learn: • that all children have rights. • that boys and girls are of equal value. • that all people deserve respect, freedom and knowledge. • to cooperate. • to demand their rights.

A day at Yanapanakusun

9 am Feed the geese Fortunata and Youana feed the geese and give them water. “They eat grass, orange peel and other kitchen waste. We have seven geese and they each lay one egg every day,” says Fortunata.


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10 am Water the plants Sonia, 12, and Elisabeth, 11, have planted seeds in small pots. Now the plants are growing and they get bigger every day.

9.30 am Clean out the guinea pig cage The girls have 14 guinea pigs that live in a cage in the yard. They’re not pets for playing with though. In Peru, guinea pigs are a delicacy and people eat them. “But we don’t eat our guinea pigs. They are so cute and we feel sorry for them,” says Vittoria, 11.

10.15 am Wash Trapo The dog is called Trapo, which means cloth or rag. It got the name when it was a puppy and Josefina tried to throw it out because she thought it was just a rag on the floor. Adaluse and Sonia wash Trapo every week. The dog lives in the yard and barks if any strangers try to get in.

10.30 am Rabbit, rabbit There’s a rabbit that lives in the garden and Fortuna, 17, has named it Meggi. The rabbit comes running when she calls it.

“We take care of the animals and the animals take care of us. Many of the girls come from rural areas and have grown up with animals around,” says Josefina. “It’s important that they get the chance to continue that contact. The pets are also good because girls who have been let down by adults can begin to regain their emotions in their contact with the animals. They can learn about care, trust and love.”

11 am Group discussion with the psychologist Elisabeth, 11, and the other girls meet with Yanapanakusun’s psychologist a couple of times a week. This is where they talk about the hard things the girls have been through, but also about how they are now and about the future. “We learn to breathe deeply and how to talk to our friends, how to listen and how to communicate. A lot of people in Peru think it’s shameful to talk to a psychologist, but I think it’s good,” says Elisabeth.

Rosalbina, 14, loves to play llajes. You can learn how to play it too at

12.30 pm Knitting and games When the morning’s tasks are finished, Vittoria, 11, relaxes. Every Sunday, girls who work come to the house to spend time together and have fun. A few weeks ago the girls all learned to knit. Vittoria is already onto her third scarf. She wraps it round her neck and carries on knitting it.


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1 pm

4 pm

Lunchtime soon Mariam, 16, and Sonia prepare lunch. All the girls eat lunch together. It’s often stew with potatoes, corn and other vegetables.

Time for homework Gracelia, 12, and Jeni-Maribel, 9, do their homework in the library. Both go to school in the morning, so when the other girls go off to school in the evening they do their homework together.

In the library there are jigsaw puzzles and comics all about girls who do domestic work.

5.30 pm The playground When one of the adults has time to come with them, the girls are allowed to go to the park. There’s a slide and a football field, but the seesaws are the best part.

4.30 pm Treat time with DVDs At the weekends, once all their homework is done, the girls are allowed to watch TV. Their favourite thing is watching music videos. Clorinda has some DVDs of the Peruvian singer Fresialinda. “She’s always happy and she sings beautifully. And I like huayno – traditional Indian music,” she says.

, s

8.30 pm Dinner When the last girls have returned from the evening school, it’s time for dinner. After dinner the girls get a spoonful of honey. During the winter months it’s very cold at night and lots of the girls get colds. The honey is soft and soothing for their throats.

See and listen to Clorinda’s favourite artist – Fresialinda – at www.childrens!

ks is it it.

6 pm Earthquake training Many of the buildings in Peru have earthquake circles marked with an S. These mark the safest parts of the house, where the girls should go if there is an earthquake.

10 pm Good night Elisabeth and Vittoria brush their teeth and play for as long as they can until Josefina comes in. Then it’s bedtime. “Sueña con los angelitos,” she says. Dream with the angels.


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The girls’ own radio show It’s Thursday morning and the second hand is ticking towards half past eight. The lights get switched on. Now it’s time for the maids’ very own radio programme! “Welcome, today we’re going to talk about being treated justly and fairly,” says Inés Kcorahua Cruz. When Inés was young she

worked as a maid and was rescued by Josefi na. Now she presents this radio programme to inform other children that are in the same sitution. Joining her in the studio today is Amanda, 14, domestic worker and faithful listener. “I know there are lots of

girls out there who are still learning how to do their domestic chores,” says Inés, “and it takes a while to learn. Even if you do something wrong, you still deserve to be treated justly and fairly. When the wife in the household gets angry, shouts and hits you, do you think that makes it easy to learn? I don’t think so!” “I don’t think so either,” says Amanda into the microphone and out across the radio waves. “Anyone can

Rights on the radio “I always listen to the girls’ radio programme. I have a little silver battery-powered radio. My favourite thing is when they talk about girls’ rights. I work every day, selling sweets, biscuits and ice cream on the street. Now I know that I have the right to be treated well. The right to go to school in the evenings. Now that I know my rights I feel stronger, smarter and safer. Before I never knew what to say when someone treated me badly. But now I know! There are laws to protect children and workers. I usually listen to the radio programme with my parents, so that they can learn about the rights of the child too.”

make mistakes and you learn a bit at a time. But not with shouting and beatings.” The maids’ radio programme is broadcast five hours a week, both in Spanish and in Quechua. Most of the girls that work in houses aren’t allowed to listen to the radio. That’s why the programme is broadcast in the mornings, when most girls are alone in the house and can listen sneakily. “We know there are lots of you out there who don’t get the respect you deserve, just because you are humble, alone and can’t defend yourselves,” says Inés. “But remember that if you need help, Yanapanakusun is here for you. Write down our address and telephone number, so that you can call or come and see us!”  You can hear the radio programme at

Zaida Ines Canahuri Quispe, 12


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Congratulations! Today is a very special day in Yanapanakusun. Today we celebrate everyone’s birthdays!


irthdays are important in Peru. Most children and adults have big parties and celebrate with cake, balloons, clowns, presents, piñatas and lots of good food. But nobody organises parties for the girls who work. Instead of being a fun day, their birthdays are extra lonely and sad. Several of the girls who live with Josefi na don’t know when their birthdays are. They have lost touch with their families and relatives, and no longer know where or when they were born. That’s why Josefi na puts on a party to celebrate all the girls’ birthdays at the same time. Rebeca has just found out that her birthday is the 13th of May. It feels strange. She knows that she has celebrated her birthday before but she doesn’t remember it. That was before her mother got ill and died. “I was six years old then,

and after that my dad was drunk every day,” says Rebeca. “I always left the house early in the morning and didn’t come home until the evening. The house was full of shouting and fighting.” Rebeca walked on the mountain with the family’s sheep and llamas. She was free to think about her mum and cry there. At home she had to be quiet and careful so as not to annoy her father. When she was ten years old, her cousin came to visit. “You have to let the girl go to school like other children,” said Rebeca’s cousin to her father. “No, she should be at home with me,” her father shouted. But Rebeca’s cousin could see that she was scared and unhappy. Early the next morning, before her father woke up, they walked the long path to the nearest town and caught a bus to Cusco. 

Rebeca’s wish list • Adventure books, preferably about dragons. • A red car, so that I can drive to my hometown for a visit. That would surprise them! • A room of my own with a little window, a blue bed, a CD player and a microphone to sing into.

Rebeca Aguilar Condori, 12 Dream: A quiet room of my own. Wants to be: A singer and songwriter. Looks up to: Gabatshwane, member of the World’s Children’s Prize jury.

Tell us about your special day! Do you celebrate your birthday or do you have a different special day? Go to and tell us what you do to celebrate.


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Princesses visit the sacred valley

“Wow!” says Luz Garda and stretches her arms out like a condor, the sacred bird of the Inca people. Although she and the other girls who live with Josefina have all grown up in the area around Cusco, this is their first time visiting an Inca ruin.



lmost a million tourists from all over the world visit Cusco every year. They come to see the archaeological excavations, to hike on the Inca trail and to admire the remains of the Inca people’s culture. Josefi na, Luz Garda and the other girls stroll along narrow paths and up and down steps. When they get to the Inca city of Pisaq they sit down beside the round temple of the sun. “I know that many of you are ashamed because you come from rural areas,” says Josefi na. “But look around you! Your ancestors built on mountaintops and they were kings. That background is nothing to be ashamed of. You are princesses!” Luz Garda and Sonia look at each other and giggle. You don’t really feel like a princess when you’ve spent all day washing your boss’s underwear. “I know,” says Josefi na and laughs with them. “Sometimes it feels like we’re worth nothing, especially when our employers are cruel and our work is difficult. That’s when it’s even more important to remember our origins.” Pisaq is situated in the sacred valley of the Inca people. The Urubamba river

flows through the valley and at least fi fteen kinds of corn grow here. “Why did the Inca people live so far up the mountain?” asks Luz Garda. “Because the mountains were holy and the rich Inca people wanted to live near Inti, the Sun God,” says Josefi na. “Plus it was easier to defend the city if they were attacked.” “Was God here when the Inca people lived here?” asks Elisabeth. “Yes, I believe he was,” says Josefi na. “We are Catholics and we believe in God. But the Inca people saw God in the sun, the

earth, the stars and the water. Some parts of their religion are still alive today. For example, it’s extremely important for us, the people who live in the Andes, to be kind to nature.” “Did Cusco exist in the days of the Inca people?” wonders Luz Garda. “Yes, the Inca people thought Cusco was the centre of the universe, since it was the capital of their kingdom.” The girls laugh again. “What a fantastic day out!” declares Luz Garda. ”I’m glad that I know what I have that I can be proud of.” 

A narrow stairway leads the girls up the mountain to the Inca city of Pisaq.

Inca Kola is the most popular soft drink in Peru.


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The Inca people built terraces so that they could grow corn, potatoes and grain on the steep mountainsides.

If I was an Inca king I would… “… build a school that’s only for girls and it would be the best school in the whole world. With the best, kindest teachers and everyone would eat delicious food for lunch every day.” Graciela Games, 12 “…give all children who are alone loads of toys to play with. And they’d have a day off school every Wednesday to make sure they had time to play with their new things.” Rosalbina Nina Condori, 15

“…build a park that was just for children! It would have slides, seesaws and giant swings, and all children would be able to eat as many sweets as they wanted. On Sundays the children would rest, but the other days would be for playing. The park would be open to rich and poor alike, but adults wouldn’t be allowed in.”

“…make sure that no children had to work or do boring things. All children would be able to play in the daytime. In the evenings they would be with their mums and dads.” Sonia Poña Hoyta, 12

“… give out all my gold, so that no one was poor any longer. Then no children would have to work!” Zulma Panique Escolante, 14

People of the kings • The Inca people only ruled for 100 years, but during that time they had control of an area that stretched from southern Colombia to central Chile. • Inca means king. • The Inca people did not have a written language and did not use the wheel, but they were experts at building houses from heavy stone blocks and channelling water from the valleys up to the mountaintops. • The most famous Inca ruin, Machu Picchu, which is also in the sacred valley, was the summer residence of the Inca kings. The beautiful stone city was forgotten about after the Spanish people invaded Cusco, but the ruin was rediscovered by an archaeologist in the early 20th century. • For a long time, the Inca trail was the only way of getting to Machu Picchu, but now thousands of tourists arrive by train and bus every day. • Machu Picchu has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.


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Nominee • Pages 42–66

Agnes Stevens R

Hundreds of children struggle to survive in the homeless neighbourhood of Los Angeles, surrounded by drugs, violence and poverty. Ryan Wilson, 13, is one of them. Agnes Stevens and her organisation, School on Wheels, help Ryan and other homeless kids to get through school and feel that they’re worth something. There are one million homeless children in the USA.

yan gets off the school bus and starts walking towards the worst part of town. Drugs are sold openly on street corners here and homeless people crowd the sidewalk. Ryan and his family have moved around a lot and lived at shelters and in run-down hotels. But they’ve never yet had to sleep on the street, as tens of thousands do here, in tents or on cardboard. After a couple of years Ryan recognises many of the homeless people, but he rarely says hello. Some of them are mentally ill or on



Los Angeles

Washington D.C.

Pac ifi


c O



Agnes Stevens has been nominated for her 20-year struggle for homeless children in the USA. Every year Agnes and her organisation, School on Wheels, help thousands of homeless children aged between six and 18. Hundreds of volunteers donate tens of thousands of hours as tutors for children who live in shelters, in motels, in cars or on the streets. The tutors give the homeless children security. When the kids move, School on Wheels follows them and gives them stability in an otherwise unstable existence. The children can stay in touch with School on Wheels using a toll-free phone number. Agnes and School on Wheels help children and their parents with changing schools and retrieving lost documents, like grades and birth certificates. The kids also get backpacks, school uniforms, school supplies and money for the bus or the subway. At many shelters, School on Wheels has created special learning rooms, with computers, books, and drawing and writing materials, to give the children a quiet place to study and the chance to be kids.



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School on Wheels’ learning room in Downtown Los Angeles.

Agnes out walking in the homeless neighbourhood with sisters Khadijah and Janine, Ryan, 13, and his cousin, also called Ryan!

drugs and could turn angry or violent if they feel bothered. That’s why Ryan rarely looks people in the eye; it’s safer that way. During his short walk Ryan has to step over people sleeping on the street, in sleeping bags or wrapped in old blankets. Once he has to jump out the way when an angry old man charges past pushing a shopping cart overflowing with old clothes and odds and

ends. Ryan is used to the dirt, the stench and the chaos. He isn’t scared any more but sometimes he sees things he doesn’t want to see. Like the other day, when an old woman squatted to pee on the street corner. Or when a couple were arguing and started fighting on the street and all of a sudden the woman tore all her clothes off and ran around naked. “Nobody should have to live like this,” Ryan thinks to himself. When he sees the familiar yellow sign brightening up

the grey concrete, he feels happy. The round black letters read ‘School on Wheels’. The windows are painted bright colours and when Ryan steps inside he meets Agnes, the founder of the organisation. Ryan knows she’s more than 70 years old, but Agnes talks and jokes around with the kids as though she was one of them. Retirement, no thanks Agnes had just retired from her job as a teacher when she read a book that changed her life. The book was about

Ryan and Agnes.

homeless families in the USA. Agnes was shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of children were homeless and that many of

Hi with the hands

It takes quite a long time for South Los Angeles brothers Adrian, 11, and Daniel, 14, to say hi to each other. They go through a whole series of different handshakes before they feel they’ve said hello properly. Sometimes they do it all over again when they say goodbye! “What’s up?” “How’re you doing?”


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Ryan likes helping younger children who come to School on Wheels, since he has received so much support.

them didn’t go to school. “Retirement will have to wait,” she said to herself. “I’m going to help homeless kids with their schoolwork.” Agnes started to help out at shelters and schools and met two homeless brothers Agnes with Janine, 9, who has been homeless most of her life.

aged 9 and 11 who wanted her to teach them to read. Agnes prepared all weekend but when she came back on Monday the boys were gone. That made Agnes understand even more about what life is like for homeless children. They never know in advance where they’re going

to sleep the next night. Agnes soon found new children who needed her help. But she never forgot the boys who disappeared. For the first few years Agnes worked alone. She packed her car with schoolbooks, pens, and chalks and drove round to kids in parks

and shelters all over Los Angeles. Soon she realised that she needed help and started School on Wheels. The organisation has grown enormously since then. From being just one tutor – Agnes herself – she now has the support of several hundred volunteers who help

The children who don’t exist There are around one million homeless children in the USA and 200 000 in California. “But nobody wants to talk about it, it’s shameful,” says Agnes. “The homeless kids are the poorest of the poor. They grow up in areas without playgrounds or parks, surrounded by drugs, gangs, violence and prostitution. Compared with other children they’re more likely to be tired, hungry and sick. They feel ashamed, different and excluded. I want to help them believe in themselves and make them realise they are valuable.” 44

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In the beginning, Agnes was the only tutor. Now she has hundreds of volunteers to help her.

homeless children with school. Good listener Agnes and School on Wheels helped Ryan change schools, and every week he meets his tutor too. “She helps me with my homework and challenges me to do better and never give up,” says Ryan, who remembers the fi rst time he came to School on Wheels. “As soon as I stepped through the door I knew that this would be my learning home. I can focus here. I told Agnes I didn’t have a backpack and she gave me one right away! She’s a really good listener. When I have problems she helps me see the solution and she makes me feel good about myself.”

Agnes says that school is a second home for many children, where they have friends and adults they can talk to and trust. So a homeless child doesn’t just lose one home, but two! Even if they still go to school, they don’t feel comfortable there any more. Like Ryan, who never tells anyone at school that he is homeless. “The kids might not be able to afford backpacks or school supplies, or they might lose their schoolbooks because they’re constantly moving around,” says Agnes. “Then they get into trouble, but don’t dare tell their teachers the truth. They are ashamed and feel different and excluded. In the end many of them quit school.”

Ryan sits down at one of the computers to fi nd information for a school project about airplanes. His ultimate dream is to be a pilot. “I love the internet,” he says. “It’s like the world’s biggest book.” Ryan catches sight of a little girl struggling through a book. He leaves the computer and helps her spell out the words. “Without School on Wheels I would have had a harder time getting through school,” says Ryan. “So I feel good when I can help someone else.” 

Homeless capital Los Angeles is famous for its movie stars and beautiful beaches. But it’s also the homeless capital of the USA. There are more homeless people here than anywhere else. Most of them live in the homeless neighbourhood in Downtown LA, just a stone’s throw from the skyscrapers where banks and big companies have their offices.


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How do people become homeless? Pho to : C o r in ne M

There are lots of different reasons, but for children and families it often comes down to money. One or both parents lose their jobs and can’t pay the rent. Eventually they get evicted and end up on the street. Lots of single mothers become homeless when they leave abusive partners. Some parents lose their homes because of drug addiction or because they have mental health problems. There are also thousands of teenagers living on their own on the street after having run away from home.


In Downtown, the homeless neighbourhood, tens of thousands of people live on the street.

High standards for tutors Agnes calls her organisation School on Wheels because her tutors often spend a lot of time on the road. They drive to where the kids are, to schools, libraries, shelters, motels and School on Wheels’ learning rooms. “We have to be the kids’ security,” says Agnes. “They have been let down too many times and they have to know they’re not alone. That there are people who care about them and don’t forget about them.” There are currently around 400 tutors but Agnes wants to double that number. Even so, it is quite difficult to become a School on Wheels volunteer. All potential tutors are checked out carefully. “They have to fill in an application form, hand in fingerprints and a record of convictions, and come to an interview. We have to make sure that each tutor can do a good job and that the kids are safe with them.”

What do Agnes and School on Wheels do? Agnes with children and volunteers outside the learning room in Downtown Los Angeles.

Chandalea got a new backpack.

Chandalea gets a new backpack! Before the start of each term, School on Wheels gives out new backpacks filled with pens, rulers, scissors and other useful things. Chandalea, 11, is pleased with her new backpack and she’s looking forward to the start of term. “My family and I have been homeless a long time,” she says. “It’s really hard but we take care of each other.”

• Help thousands of children with their studies. Hundreds of tutors work a total of over 30,000 hours every year, for free. • Create special learning rooms at the shelters, with computers, books and materials for writing and drawing. • Give backpacks and school supplies to 5000 children every year. • Give homeless children school uniforms when they need them. • Have a toll-free telephone number that children can use to stay in touch and ask for help. • Help children and their parents when they have to change schools. • Help children and their parents trace lost records, like grades. • Give parents advice on their children’s education. • Work in five regions in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura. School on Wheels also exists in two other states, Indiana and Massachusetts.


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Before Ed, 11, became homeless, he had never imagined that children could end up on the street. The night his family slept in a car was the worst night of his life.


hings really start to go wrong when Ed’s dad beats his mother, Edith, badly. When his dad is put in prison they have to survive on his mother’s salary and it’s not enough to cover food and rent. “Pack your stuff,” says his mother one day. “We have to move out.” “Where are we going?” ask Ed, his little brother Leonard and his big sister Guadalupe. Their mother is silent for a moment.

Finally she admits, “I don’t know.” Keep the mask up The family get help to put their furniture and other bits and pieces in storage. They pack only the bare essentials in a few bags they lug around when they start moving from friend to friend. Most people they know are already short of space. They can never stay in the same place for very many nights. Soon the sum-

mer vacation will be over and Ed is very worried about what will happen when he goes back to school. Of course his mum is searching for a new, cheaper apartment but it seems impossible to fi nd one. All landlords demand the fi rst and last months’ rent in advance. That’s thousands of dollars and his mum never has that kind of money to spare. She works at a hamburger place and doesn’t earn much. All her pay goes to food, clothes and bus fares. After six months the family are all desperate. They often sleep on someone’s living room floor with all their stuff crammed into bags. It’s a nightmare in the mornings when everyone’s trying to fi nd clean clothes at once. And it’s even harder to figure out how to get to school


longs for peace and quiet

Ed Korpie, 11 Lives: Shelter, Venice, Los Angeles. Likes: Skateboarding, baseball, American football. Reading books. Playing computer games. Doesn’t like: When people steal my stuff. Loves: My family. Looks up to: Tony Hawk, the pro skater. Dreams of: Learning to do an ollie on a skateboard. Wants to be: A computer game designer.


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Ed’s dad has been released from prison and is staying with a friend. He often comes to the shelter to visit his kids. Almost everyone in Los Angeles has a car but Ed and his family get around on foot. Sometimes people look at them strangely, just because they’re walking!

from a place you’ve never been before. Ed is always tired and worried. He often gets headaches and stomach pains. He has neither the time nor the peace and quiet to do homework, since they have to move every other day. Ed doesn’t tell his classmates or his teacher that he’s homeless now. They might start teasing him and looking down on him. He fights hard

to make sure nobody notices that something is wrong, but sometimes it feels almost impossible to keep up appearances. Dad doesn’t know The children’s dad still doesn’t know what has happened. He writes to them from jail and asks when they’re coming to see him. When he was in prison before, their mother took

them to visit, but now she doesn’t want to. She says they have neither the time nor the money. Ed realises she has decided to leave their dad for good. But how will they manage on their own? In the end they have nowhere to go. Ed’s mother calls everyone she knows and a friend finally says they can sleep in his van. They spread blankets on the floor and crawl in to the cramped

space in the back. That night, Ed is terrified and can’t sleep. The noises outside are scary but the thoughts racing through his mind are worse. Is this how they’re going to live the rest of their lives? The next day, his mother has had enough. She has heard about a church shelter that helps homeless families, but it’s in a different area, far away from the children’s

Ed with his mum Edith, brother Leonard, 9, and sister Guadalupe, 15. Ed’s mother is from Mexico. His dad was born in the US but his grandparents came to the US from Finland, so Ed’s surname, Korpie, is Finnish. The shelter is near the famous Venice Beach area. Ed and Leonard go skateboarding there but they don’t swim very often because the water is dirty.


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schools. Now Ed and his brother and sister will have to change schools and she’ll have to fi nd a new job. Lawyer as a teacher Now they’ve been living in a little room at the church shelter for six months. They have two bunk beds and a wardrobe they squeeze all their stuff into. Once a week, Ed’s tutor from

School on Wheels comes by. In the daytime she’s a divorce lawyer, but this job is more fun, she tells Ed. He likes Jessica because she’s kind and good at explaining difficult maths problems in a way that makes them seem easy. Usually they go to the library to study. It’s nice to get away from the shelter for a while. “The worst thing about

the shelter is all the rules. It’s hard for kids not to have any freedom,” says Ed to Jessica. “We have to go to church all the time, or they’ll throw us out. Our room is tiny and it’s hard to keep track of our stuff and even harder to stay friends. The great thing is to know where you’re going to sleep the next night. To not be on the street, sleeping in cars or on people’s floors.” 

Ed’s mother has just tidied their room but Ed says it’s usually chaos again after about thirty seconds.

Ed likes reading, especially the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.

Ed loves skateboarding. “I’m happiest when I learn new tricks. I’m trying to learn to do an ollie, I fall and hurt myself all the time but it’s worth it.”

Ed’s favourite foods are double-decker sandwiches and his mother’s Mexican menudo.

Ed’s dream house Ed goes through his homework with his tutor Jessica. Every time they meet they start by looking at Ed’s latest cuts and grazes. He gets a lot from skateboarding.

“A green house with a pool, a library and a skatepark. My dream is to have my own room – I’ve never had that. I’d put posters up on the walls, enjoy the peace and quiet and take care of myself.” 49

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24 hours on the ho Janine Williams, 9, and her older sister Khadijah, 16, have been homeless along with their mother for six years. Tonight they’re going to try and get a bed at the emergency homeless shelter in the heart of the homeless neighbourhood of Los Angeles. This is where the people who have nowhere else to go end up.

Lining up for a safe bed Janine, her older sister and their mum join the long queue for the Midnight Mission shelter. It’s in the heart of the homeless neighbourhood and hundreds of homeless people are hoping to get some food and a bed here tonight. This is called safe sleep, because it can be really dangerous on the streets in this part of town at night.

6 pm Finally, dinnertime! Janine gets a plate of meat and vegetable stew. “It tastes better than it looks,” she promises.

7 pm

5.30 am Police alarm clock At dawn, while Janine is still sleeping, the police drive around the neighbourhood and chase away the homeless people who are sleeping outside. It’s illegal to live on the streets. Some protest but most of them just get up and pack their things.



5.30 pm

6 am Good morning You have to get up early so you don’t miss breakfast. In the morning, all the temporary residents of the shelter have to leave the building. Janine and Khadijah are going to school while their mum looks for work and tries to find somewhere else to sleep tonight.

Good night The adults sleep in large dormitories. Families with children squeeze into a little room on the second floor. Tonight there is only one other family here. A mother and father with three young children. They’ve just become homeless and it’s their first night at a shelter. Janine feels sorry for them. She has stayed here loads of times and she knows how things work. The worn grey blankets itch, but Janine still falls asleep straight away.

10 am Classes Janine has had to change school several times during the time she’s been homeless. Sometimes she has had to miss lots of school days. “It’s hard to make friends and keep up in class when you’re new.”

7.45 am To school Janine takes the bus to school. School on Wheels gave her bus tokens so that she’d be able to get to school every day.

3 pm To School on Wheels After school, Janine hurries back to the homeless neighbourhood and to School on Wheels’ learning room. All her homeless friends meet here. “The people at School on Wheels are really nice and helpful.”


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homeless block 3.30 pm Snack Janine eats a honey bun with cinnamon and icing. It tastes delicious but it makes her fingers sticky.

Time to join the queue Janine and Khadijah go to meet their mum. Soon they’ll find out where they’re sleeping tonight. Agnes comes with them some of the way. She and the children have known each other for years. Agnes gives them a flyer with School on Wheels’ toll free phone number. “Call us if you need help. You know your tutors will come to you, wherever you go,” she reminds them.

4 pm Homework Janine gets help with her homework from her tutor, Steve. He’s good at explaining things in a way that’s easy to understand. He’s a bit of a joker too.

5.20 pm

5.27 pm The balloon man Halfway there, they meet the balloon man, Joe, who is an expert at making balloon figures. He makes balloon flowers and rabbits for some other homeless children who are there with their tutor from School on Wheels. “Please, please, could you make me a heart?” asks Janine.


5.30 pm The heart Janine walks the last bit of the way with her friends from School on Wheels. She hangs on to her two hearts, one pink and one red. She’ll put them beside her pillow tonight when she goes to sleep. What a great end to the day!

Half a hairstyle


One day Janine met a homeless woman who was good at doing hairstyles. She gave Janine extensions and braided her hair, but she only made it halfway the first day. The next day, the woman had disappeared and Janine had to go around with a half-finished hairstyle for a few days. But in the end they found each other at another shelter. Now Janine’s hairstyle is finished!


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Jarifri, 11 Dream home: A blue house with a black door in Las Vegas, because I like all the lights there. We’ll have four bedrooms, four wardrobes and two bathrooms. Likes: Dancing, taekwondo, school. Looks up to: My big brother, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. “Me, my brother and my parents live in a small motel room. Lots of homeless people live here. Frank, my tutor from School on Wheels, comes here once a week and helps me with my homework. Since we started working together, my grades have gone up.” “It’s alright to live in a crowded space, it makes our family come together. Every weekend, my dad and I perform at Venice Beach. He’s a clown and I dance, in gold clothes and a gold hat. I’ve been dancing ever since I learned to walk, and I’ve got a red belt in taekwondo. I started learning martial arts for self-defence. There are a lot of bullies at my school.”

Our dream homes There are over a million homeless children in the US. They live in shelters, in cars, in motels or on the street. Their families have ended up on the street for different reasons, but they have one thing in common: they all dream of a home of their own where they can be safe and happy.

Shatrea Olivera, 12 Dream home: A big pink house with four bedrooms, a big kitchen and a backyard with swings, no, a whole playground. I want my own room, in blue and white. Likes: Playing. Looks up to: My mom “We’ve been homeless since mom left our dad because he was mean to her. We’ve lived in lots of different places. With relatives, in motels and in a car. For a while we moved almost every day. Now we live in transitional housing. It’s called that because we’ve come halfway to getting an apartment of our own. Mom works and saves money so we can survive. This shelter is pretty good. There’s a playground outside and there are lots of kids to play with. School on Wheels built a special learning room with books, drawing stuff and computers. I go there to draw and to meet my tutor.” Cesar with his younger brother Eric.


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Dream home: A white mansion with white walls and shiny wooden floors, a swimming pool and a skatepark. Every day I’ll invite all my family and friends for a huge big buffet with amazing food. I’ll have a widescreen TV and all the game consoles you can get. Looks up to: My big brother, who listens when I need someone to talk to. Likes: Skateboarding, swimming, eating pizza and ice cream, reading. “We’ve been homeless for years. The worst thing about it is moving around so much. We have to drag all our stuff around on the bus. We lose things a lot. I’ve lost loads of my favourite things, stuff I really need. That makes me sad and angry. Living in a shelter is OK because there are loads of kids there. But the rules are too strict. Us kids don’t have any freedom and we have to be quiet the whole time. I like School on Wheels because they’ve helped me so much. Sometimes I lose touch with my tutor when we move, but we always manage to get back together.”

Matthew, 12 Dream home: A big house with a huge TV and a skatepark out back. Looks up to: Dustin Dollin, the skater. Likes: Skateboarding, video games. “The worst thing about being homeless is having to change school all the time. I’ve been to three different schools in the last year. I’m always nervous when I change school, it’s hard to try to fit in and make new friends. Right now I live in a shelter with my mom, two sisters and two brothers. I have a tutor from School on Wheels who is really great. I hope she can keep helping me even if we move again. We’ve lived in different shelters and motels, and this is the best place so far. Our last shelter was in a rough area with a lot of gangs. They were always shooting at night. But I miss the friends I made there. My dream for the future is to stop the violence and to become a professional skater or a police officer.”



Cesar Hurtado, 12

Cesar’s family

Kibsaim Itsui Gallegos-Sierra, 8 Dream home: A pink house with white stripes. My room will have pink walls with red flowers. The house will be on the beach and it’ll have a big garden with a slide and a pool. Looks up to: My tutor. Likes: Computer games, hula-hoop, playing hide and seek and tag.


“I think I’ve always been homeless. My mom, my sister, my little brother and I move around. We’ve lived in shelters in Los Angeles. Sometimes we go to Mexico. The worst thing about staying in shelters is having to get up so early. When we’re in Los Angeles I go to School on Wheels almost every day. My tutor Crystal helps me with my homework and takes me on outings. When I grow up I want to be a teacher too. I want to learn to swim, but it seems hard. I’ve never been to the ocean, but I’ve heard that it’s really pretty there.” 53

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Brianna’s tutor Rosemary helps her understand a tricky problem.

Brianna wants to help the homel It’s late in the evening when Brianna, 11, goes with her mother and elder brother Adrian to book a room at a run-down motel. Her two eldest brothers are hiding round the corner. Five people aren’t allowed to share one room, but her mother can’t afford two. If they are found out they’ll end up on the street tonight.


hen the coast is clear, their mother smuggles Ryan, 12, and Daniel, 14, into the room. Inside, they all breathe a sigh of relief. They’re safe for another night. Since Melissa, the children’s mother, left their violent father a few weeks ago, they’ve moved around

different cheap motels in the poorest and most dangerous parts of South LA. The family can’t stay long in each place – the motel staff would notice that too many of them are sharing a room and throw them out. But now their mother’s money is

starting to run out. Where will they go then? Melissa looks for help in the phone book and fi nds the numbers of a few homeless shelters. She and the children fi nd it hard to think of themselves as homeless. A homeless person – isn’t that a dirty man dressed in rags who lives in a cardboard box? She starts to call the shelters anyway, while the children listen. It turns out that some shelters do accept families. “How many children do

you have?” asks the man at the shelter. “How old are they?” When he hears that Melissa’s oldest boy, Daniel, is 14, he turns them down. “He would have to stay on his own with the adult men.” “But he’s only 14, he’s a child!” says Melissa. “Those are the rules,” says the man at the shelter. “We never let teenage boys stay with the families. It could be dangerous.”


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meless when she grows up

Brianna Audinett, 11 Lives: In South Los Angeles. Likes: Shoes, drama, reading books, writing stories. Doesn’t like: Being bored. Happy: When I’m at School on Wheels. Looks up to: My mom. Wants to be: A doctor or a film star.

The children’s mum slams the phone down and tries the next shelter, but it seems hopeless. In Los Angeles, lots of teenage boys as young as 12 are members of violent gangs. The shelters worry that the young boys will turn violent and hurt other children. But Melissa won’t give up. She nags, pleads and begs until she fi nally fi nds a shelter that will let the whole family stay together. Be quiet! The next day they take the bus to the homeless neighbourhood in downtown Los Angeles. The shelter looks like a prison; it’s a big, grey concrete building. Brianna thinks the area is scary. It’s messy and dirty. There are

Brianna doesn’t like the homeless neighbourhood; it’s dirty, messy and sometimes dangerous.

people shouting and waving their arms, drinking alcohol and lying like corpses by the side of the street. Suddenly, Brianna notices an old man staring at her. Her mum sees it too. Eventually she tells him to stop. He walks a little further away but keeps on staring. “Don’t worry mom,” says Brianna later, “I can protect myself.” Brianna and her family stay at the shelter for six months. There’s space for them in a dormitory with bunk beds in the family area. There are lots of other mothers with children here, and Brianna quickly makes friends. She thinks the best thing about the shelter is knowing you have a place to sleep. The worst thing is the 55

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One day a film team comes to School on Wheels. They’re going to make a movie. Brianna and her friends are going to write the script and act in the film. “

Brianna with her family: Daniel, Ryan, Adrian, Brianna and their mum Melissa.


streets outside, and that it’s so cramped and noisy in the dormitory. Children scream and cry and ambulance and police sirens wail outside every so often. Brianna’s brother Ryan’s asthma gets much worse at the shelter, and he coughs all the time. Playing like normal kids is almost impossible. ‘Be quiet, sit still,’ is all they hear. “They act like they don’t know what fun is,” complains Brianna to her mum. “We’re not going to live here for ever,” she promises. School on Wheels saves the day Right opposite the shelter, Brianna fi nds her own space at School on Wheels’ learning room. Brianna goes there every day after school. “I love School on Wheels. They take care of us and protect us,” she explains to her mum. “If some mean guy on the street starts bothering you, they help you out. They gave us a toll-free telephone number we can call whenever we need help.”

Brianna and her brothers get new backpacks and a tutor each to help with homework. Their mum also gets help when the kids have to change school. Lots of important papers and documents have disappeared during the time they’ve been homeless, but School on Wheels sorts out new ones. Most importantly, the children’s mother knows they are safe while she’s at work. “We wouldn’t have made it without you guys,” Melissa often says to School on Wheels. One day the family hear that they’re going to get help to fi nd an apartment of their own. It feels unreal. It’s fantastic. Brianna is delighted to be able to leave the shelter, but she plans to come back to the homeless neighbourhood in the future. “I want to become a doctor when I grow up, and help sick people, especially homeless people. They have no money, no health insurance, but I will help them anyway.” 

Brianna in full costume as Ruby.

h Li g

ts, c


’m playing one of the heroes, I’ll be called Ruby in the movie,” explains Brianna. She and her friend Janine, who will play superhero Pink Ice, are a team. “We rescue people and fight bad guys,” says Janine, who, at the end of the movie, tries to transform the whole world to a sea of pink diamonds. They wrote the script of the film themselves, with their homeless friends at School on Wheels. The film team is from an organisation called Hollywood Heart. Normally they work on real movie sets in Hollywood, but on their days off they want to do something to help children who are having a hard time. For three days, School on Wheels is transformed into a film set. The kids get to write scripts, build sets and make props and costumes. Finally they shoot the film and once it has been edited they get to go to a gala premiere. “It’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” says Brianna. “If I can’t become a doctor maybe I’ll be a movie star!” 


a e ra

c t io



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becomes a movie star Hollywood Heart goes to School on Wheels and the homeless children are the stars of the day.

Khadijah, 16, takes a break from her college applications to be in the film.

Before shooting, all the children have to get their make-up and costumes on. Salmai, 7, has been given silver hair and a dollar sign round her neck.

Ryan Audinett, 13, is playing a detective and has handcuffs at the ready.

Ryan Wilson, 13, shows off his best movie star pose with a plastic rifle.

Superheroes Pink Ice (Janine) and Ruby (Brianna) prepare for the next scene.

Hiding behind the Red Devils mask is Ryan Mcneil, 9.

Adrian Audinett, 12, likes making movies, but he really wants to be an architect.

F I L M FA C T S People call Los Angeles the capital of film, and the Hollywood district is worldfamous. The first Hollywood movie was made back in 1910. It was called ‘In Old California’ and it was a silent film. The first film with sound was called ‘The Jazz Singer’ and it came out in 1927. In the beginning, the film companies made foreign versions of American movies so that people who didn’t understand English could watch them too. They would shoot a version with, say, French or Spanish actors. After a while they realised that it was cheaper and easier to dub or subtitle the movies in different languages. When more people started to get TVs in the 1950s, many people thought the film industry would die out. But it didn’t. These days, the big film companies in LA make around 60 movies a year and the film industry has a multi-billion dollar turnover. 57

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Nick with his dad Frank and his mother Michelle.

Nick is a hero When Nick was seven, he lived in an apartment block that was a notorious hideout for drug dealers and addicts. One night the police raided the building.

Nick Barger, 10 Lives: Motel in Los Angeles. Likes: Skateboarding, drawing, playing computer games, reading. Doesn’t like: Drugs. Being treated like a little kid. Sad: When my friends move away. Loves: Being with my family. Looks up to: Mom and dad. My tutor Laura. Dreams of: My own home. Wants to be: A writer.


veryone in the building, in all the apartments, was involved with drugs. People went in and out of Nick’s apartment all the time and often passed out on the sofa or the floor. The people downstairs sold drugs around the clock. Nick’s parents, Michelle and Frank, didn’t sell drugs but they were high most of the time. Doing drugs made them different, Nick felt. Sometimes they just sat or lay still, staring into space. When they woke from their stupor they were usually

unhappy. Nick loved his parents but they were always too sick and too strung out on drugs to be able to be his mum and dad. He had to take care of himself. Foster family Late one night Nick was woken by shouts and screams outside. People started to run around the corridors, trying to escape or get to the toilet in time to flush their drugs away. After a while the police stormed into Nick’s apartment and started to shout at his par-

ents. The police had dark vests and guns. Nick’s parents looked terrified. Then the police caught sight of Nick. “You can’t stay here,” said one of the police officers. Nick cried and said he wanted to stay with his parents, but the police officer called a social worker who came to fetch him. Nick didn’t know what was going to happen to his parents. He had to move in with a foster family, a family who get paid to take care of children who can’t stay with their own parents. Beaten Nick turned eight at the foster family’s house, but nobody seemed to care. The foster parents had lots of


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children in the house, children of their own and foster children. The others were older than Nick and treated him badly. They said cruel things and beat him. Nick tried to fight back but they were bigger and stronger. His foster parents didn’t do anything to help him. A while later Nick’s mother went into a treatment centre for drug addicts, and Nick was allowed to visit her there. They cried when they saw each other for the fi rst time and Nick’s mother asked him to forgive her. They chatted and laughed together until suddenly Nick’s mother saw the bruises on his arms. “It’s my foster family, they beat me,” said Nick. Nick’s mother complained to the social workers that

had placed Nick with that family, but the foster parents claimed Nick was lying. That he must have fallen. Or that Nick’s mother was beating him. The people in charge believed the foster parents and Nick had to go back to them. Things got even worse for Nick after that. Everyone was angry with him because he had talked and they beat him even more. By then, however, Nick’s mother had been clean for long enough so she could start fighting to get Nick back for good.

Nick was called to court but the fi rst time he saw the judge he didn’t dare say anything about the abuse. His foster parents had threatened him. “Keep your mouth shut or say that it’s your mom who’s beating you,” they told Nick. “Or else.” Back to mother Finally, on the third visit to court, Nick couldn’t take it

any longer and told the truth. The judge brought down his gavel and said, “You may move back to your mother.” Nick was allowed to move to the recovery centre where his mother was fighting to get over her addiction. His dad was at another recovery centre for men. Nick and his mother shared a room with two other mothers and their five children. It was crowded

Nick’s dreamcatcher hangs above his bed to catch all the scary nightmares before they spoil his sleep.

The motel room where Nick and his parents live is really cramped.



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My extra teacher Nick’s tutor from School on Wheels is called Laura. “She’s like my friend, my teacher and my big sister. She helps me with my homework and she is very patient. Laura also took me to a baseball game and to the movies.”

Nick and his parents each have their own daily schedule on the wall. They get minus points if they do something negative and plus points if they do something good. “It helps us to be positive,” says Nick.

but Nick soon made new friends and things were going well for his mother. She was not only coming off the drugs, but also learning things like how to pay bills and take care of a child. She was learning to live without drugs. Together again Both Nick’s parents have now been drug-free for three years. They left the recovery Nick can’t bring friends back to the motel. People who don’t live there aren’t allowed in.

centres long ago, but they still haven’t managed to fi nd a place to live. “My dream home is a penthouse on the 42nd floor,” says Nick. “My room will be gothic, with black walls and furniture, fluorescent lights and plastic bats hanging from the ceiling. But actually, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if we live in a cardboard box as long as we’re together.”

Because Nick and his parents are homeless, they have to live at a motel with lots of other homeless people. They pay for a month at a time but they could be thrown out at any time. Nick has had lots of homeless friends who have disappeared from the motel. “It’s almost impossible to fi nd and keep a best friend,” he says to his parents. At night, as he is falling

asleep, Nick often thinks about everything he’s been through. “I’m going to write a book about my life, because I want to tell people what it’s been like. I survived a lot while I was waiting to get back with my parents.” “You’re our hero, Nick,” say his mother and father. “We’d never have made it without you.” 

Spider friend Nick’s mum got a spider tattoo because Nick loves spiders. “Once we saw a spider on the wall in the classroom. All the kids screamed and wanted to kill it but I stood in front of the spider and told them all not to touch it. The teacher said ‘Listen to Nick, he’s right.’ I let the spider out through the window.”


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Whenever Nick has the chance he grabs his skateboard and tries out new tricks on the street outside the motel. Skateboarding is one of the most popular sports in the USA. Some say it was invented by a bored surfer who put wheels on his surfboard and started to “surf” the streets. What is a skateboard?


Nick loves skateBoard – often has a design underneath that gets worn off when you ride Griptape – for better grip on the board Tail – the back part of the board Nose – the front part of the board Wheels – four wheels Trucks – two trucks hold the four wheels

The most common tricks Ollie – A basic trick that is the starting point for lots of other tricks, a jump on flat ground without holding the board. Nollie – Like an ollie, but instead of jumping from the tail of the board, jump from the nose. Kickflip – The board is kicked so that it flips longways, under the feet. 180 – A half turn of the board so the nose ends up where the tail was. 360 – A full turn of the board. 900 – Two and a half turns, on a vert ramp. Grind – Sliding on the trucks. 50-50 – A grind on both trucks. Five-0 – A grind on one of the trucks. Boardslide – Sliding the underside of the board along an object. Manual – A balancing trick on two wheels, rolling forwards or backwards.


1. Put your back foot on the tail and your front foot in the middle of the board.

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2. Crouch 3. Jump and make down and bend sure the tail hits your knees. the ground so that the board is angled upwards.

4. While you 5. Pull your legs jump, let your up to go higher. front foot slide forward. That way the board lifts up and your balance evens out.

6. Straighten your legs and centre your weight.

7. Don’t lock your knees when you land. Roll off.


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Marlen’s aunt is her ‘mom’

Mexicans in Los Angeles often wear gold necklaces with their names on – or the name of a loved one. Marlen’s necklace was a present from her mother.


When Marlen’s mother discovered she had HIV and couldn’t work any more, they lost their apartment. The social worker said, “Move to a shelter for homeless people with HIV and AIDS, or we’ll take your daughter away.”


Marlen calls her Aunt Angelina ‘mom’ because she takes care of her and she has always loved her like a real mother.

Marlen’s wardrobe Marlen Contreras, 13 Lives: At a shelter for people with HIV and AIDS. Likes: Skateboarding, music, drawing, school. Doesn’t like: Mean people. Sad: When my mom is ill. Loves: Mom. Would like: A little dog but unfortunately the shelter doesn’t allow pets. Wants to be: A nurse or a doctor.


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arlen and her mother didn’t want to move to the shelter. “We were really scared,” says Marlen. “We didn’t know anything about AIDS. Mom thought I’d catch it too if we lived with other people who were HIV positive. Now we’ve stayed here for a few years. I like it here and I’ve learnt a lot about the illness, like you can survive for a long time if you take medicine and look after yourself.” Marlen was born in Mexico but she came to the US when she was two weeks old.

Marlen’s favourite sneakers are called Superstars or shelltoes, because the front part looks like a shell. The children get school uniform gift vouchers from School on Wheels.

Marlen gets a new school uniform from School on Wheels once a year, or more often if necessary. “There’s a lot of pressure in school to wear designer clothes. And it’s dangerous to wear certain clothes or colours, because people might think you’re in a gang. It’s easier to wear a school uniform – blue top and pants.”

“The person I call mom is actually my aunt. I’ve never met my dad and my biological mom couldn’t take care of me. She drank a lot and ended up in prison. My Aunt Angelina brought me to America to give me a better chance in life. I call her mom, because she has always taken care of me like a mother.” Worry about mom “When I was young we lived with my stepfather. I liked him a lot. Then they split up and mom met a new man who used to beat her. Once my stepfather came back to see me but the man refused to let him in. I saw my stepfather through the window and I cried, shouted and banged on the window but he didn’t hear me and he

“These are my favourite jeans. They’re perfect for jumping and dancing. Sometimes I get really angry and frustrated. It helps to listen to music and jump up and down and dance like crazy. Music makes me happy. My favourite kinds of music are hip hop and Spanish rock.” “I like gym class, but my favourite sport is skateboarding.”

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never came back. The man just got worse. He beat and threatened my mom. Finally the police came and took him away. Then mom found out that she had been infected with HIV.” Marlen’s mother’s health isn’t bad, but sometimes she has to be admitted to hospital. “I get really worried then,” says Marlen. There are three other kids at the shelter but they are younger. “I had a friend who was my age but she moved to another shelter. We were best friends and we could talk about anything. I miss her.” Marlen can’t tell anyone where she lives because there is still so much prejudice surrounding AIDS. One of Marlen’s schoolmates once found out where she lived. “She told everybody at school that I lived at an AIDS shelter and that everyone should stay away from me. ‘Don’t talk to Marlen,’ she used to say. ‘Don’t let her sit with us. She might give AIDS to you and your family.’ I complained to the principal and in the end I threatened to call the police on her. She got scared and stopped.” 

Michael homeless when mother got cancer When Michael’s mother got lung cancer and ended up in a coma, she lost both her job and their beautiful house by the ocean.


ichael’s mother was in hospital in a coma for several months. Michael, who was 14 at the time, stayed with his best friend from the football team. Every other week, Michael stayed with his mother in hospital. “It was hard. I had to grow up fast and my mom became like a child I had to take care of.” When his mother’s money ran out, she was moved to a cheaper hospital. The staff there were overworked and stressed. “They treat me like crap,” his mother cried. “I’m in terrible pain but they won’t give me enough painkillers because the hospital has to save money.” When his mother was fi nally allowed to come

home, they had nowhere to go. In the end they moved to a homeless shelter. Michael didn’t tell anyone at school about what had happened. He was afraid that people would look down on him. His grades dropped and he almost lost his place on the

Michael wants to be a professional football player.

Prom dress “I wore this dress to the prom when I graduated from junior high school. Mom gave it to me. I love the colour and the design.”

Michael and his mother

football team. “Through School on Wheels I got a tutor, Rafael. With his help, I managed to catch up and get through my schoolwork. We still meet once a week. My dream is to be a professional football player or a fi reman.” 

Michael loves American football. “The game has taught me a lot about cooperation and inspired me me to be less self-centred. Everyone’s important in a team. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.” Michael’s football trophy.

Costs to be sick Almost 50 million Americans have no health insurance, and many are hit hard when they have to pay sky-high hospital bills. The USA comes pretty far down in the WHO (World Health Organisation) ranking of different countries’ healthcare systems.


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Children worth just as much Sierra is woken by her father shaking her shoulder. It’s only 5.30 in the morning, but if she doesn’t get up now she’ll have to wait in line for the shower. ierra slips out to the shower room in the corridor and steps under the warm water, still half asleep. Wrapped in a towel, she tip-toes back to the room and jumps straight back into bed for another hour before breakfast. At eight they have to leave. They have to take their valuables with them because there’s no lock on the door to their room. Nobody is allowed back into the shelter until late afternoon. Sierra goes to school and her dad to work. “Don’t forget we have to practice for our next powwow tonight,” says her dad. “Okay,” Sierra replies. She and her dad, Big Bear, are

Native Americans and belong to the Hunkpapa Sioux Nation. Sierra dances and her dad plays the drum. A pow-wow is a big party where Native Americans meet to talk, dance, sing and play music together. Sierra loves doing traditional dances, especially the Fancy Shawl Dance that’s only for girls and women. “You spin round and round, swinging beautiful, colourful shawls until you almost look like a butterfly,” Sierra explains. “When I dance I forget all my problems,” Sierra is proud of being Native. “In our culture, children and adults have the same value. We are allowed to join

Sierra with her father Big Bear. She has a Native name too – it means She Who Walks With Thunder.

in their council and our voices are heard. It’s great.” Some of the kids at Sierra’s school have found out she lives at a shelter. “Some of them are mean and say ‘I don’t like her, she’s homeless. She’s poor.’ I only have three friends at school. People only want to hang out with people the same colour as them. It’s depressing. Just because I’m different I’m treated badly.” 


Sierra Longfeather, 11 Lives: Shelter, Santa Barbara. Likes: Playing drums, dancing, singing. Sad: When adults don’t respect me. Loves: My dad. Looks up to: Martin Luther King.


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Sierra wants to be A motorcycle designer, an artist, a police office, a world traveller, a dancer, an author, president

Her dad’s drum is made of wood and the skin is made of cow hide.

The rooms at the shelter are cramped.

Sierra got this necklace from her dad. It’s made of silver and turquoise stones.

We are the First Nation! When the Europeans came to North America there were around five million people living there, people that are now called Native Americans. Back then there were thousands of different groups and several hundred different languages and dialects, but now there are only about two million Native “I look up to Martin Americans left in the US and one milLuther King because he lion in Canada. Many were killed by fought for all races, not just the Europeans but most died of his own but for us Natives disease, starvation or other probtoo. It’s sad that he died for what he believed, and still lems caused by the white people’s people are discriminated invasion. Native Americans are against today.” now the poorest minority group in the US.

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Kattranece was nine years old and had just been shopping with her mother when she heard a loud bang. A few seconds passed before she realised that someone was shooting at them.

Kattranece was shot G

et in the car, quick,” shouts their mum. Kattranece and her younger sisters jump in the back and their mother steps on the gas. The shot came from another car that is now chasing them along the freeway and still fi ring shots at them. Suddenly Kattranece feels a burning pain in her chest. “Mom, it burns!” Kattranece’s mother realises her daughter has been shot but she doesn’t dare stop. In the end she drives down a street full of people. The police come and their pursuers give up.

Shot in the lung Kattranece has been shot in one lung and nearly dies. She has to stay in hospital for three months and have several operations before the doctors manage to get the bullet out. Then she has to go to court to testify against one of the men who shot at her. He’s a gang member and says he got the wrong person. They meant to shoot someone else.

Kattranece has to learn to do a lot of things all over again, like talk, walk and remember. It’s going well but unfortunately the bullet wound has made her asthma much worse. This causes problems when she becomes homeless. After a big fight with their dad, their mother takes only what she can pack in a hurry and tells her daughters it’s time to leave. From then on, every day they move to a new place. Kattranece thinks her mother did the right thing, but it’s hard when her coughing gets worse because of the dust, dirt and cold in cheap motels, at shelters and in cars. For a few months now, the family have been living at a special shelter for homeless families. Kattranece’s favourite thing is singing. “I performed when the shelter had a picnic. I was nervous and once I started laughing in the middle of a song. Afterwards I was happy and relieved. People said I was really good. If we fi nd a place to live I want to sing in a church choir again.” 

Kattranece with her sisters Shacarla, 4, Shatrea, 12, Kathiella, 6, and their mother Kathleen.

When Kattranece left her home she took a teddy bear that looked like this. It got lost somewhere along the way. She misses it, and a pearl necklace she got from her grandma.

Kattranece Fuguoa, 14 Lives: Shelter for families, South LA. Likes: Writing songs and singing. Reading. Listens to: Alicia Keys. Sad: When adults fight. Happy: When I sing and when I’m with friends and family. Looks up to: My mom. Wants to be: A singer, fashion designer or journalist.

A tutor from School on Wheels helps Kattranece with her homework in the learning room they built at the shelter.

Someone donated a keyboard to School on Wheels and asked them to give it to a homeless child who is interested in music. Kattranece got it!


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At the festival all the children get their faces painted to look like wild animals.

Zachery misses his sister and brothers

Zachery, 10, is having a good day because he’s meeting his sister and brother and going to a festival with them and their mother. Usually his siblings stay with their dad while Zachery and his mother live at a shelter. A third brother lives at a foster

Three sisters = one family


ig sister Ashley, 19, came as soon as she heard that her mother had been put in prison again. Her younger sisters were alone in their apartment and about to be evicted. Ashley had to give up her job and her evening course to take care of her sisters. There wasn’t space for them with Ashley and her boyfriend so the sisters started to move around. After a few months on the road, they have

finally found a good shelter. “I’ve seen movies about homeless people,” says Brittney, “but I never imagined I’d be one of them. I miss my mom and hope she gets sober so we can stay together again.”

home. Zachery’s mother has been drug free for two years and he hopes that soon they can have their own place. “The worst thing about being homeless is I can’t play football and that people at the shelter steal our food. When we moved in we

bought lots of food but when we came back it was gone. Now I’m worried that people will take my stuff. I also worry when I can’t be with my brother Desmond to protect him when kids at school start hitting him.”

Brian & Byron

have found a home! Brian, 14, and his brother Byron, 13, are very excited. After two years at a homeless shelter, their mother has proved that she can stay off drugs and they’ve been given help to move into their own apartment. It’s in a dangerous area with gangs where you sometimes hear shooting at night. But there’s a private courtyard where they can play and skate without risking getting into trouble. They both like school and want to design computer

games when they grow up. “Our role model is Shigeru Miyamoto, the best computer game designer in the world,” says Brian.

Clifton won poetry prize Clifton’s teacher suggested he should enter a poetry competition and Clifton, 11, who lives at a shelter with his mother, wrote a poem about love. “I thought about things I like to do and talk about with family and friends. I called the poem ‘Love equals…’ I worked hard and it got longer and longer. It’s about how it’s what’s on the inside that counts, not the outside.

And how love can help us survive, even when we go through hard times.” Out of 10,000 children’s poems, Clifton’s was one of the few winning entries. The winners went to a big ceremony in Beverly Hills and

their poems were read out by Hollywood stars. “Mom cried. I won 500 dollars and they gave a lot of books to the School on Wheels learning room at the shelter. That made me proud and made me focus more on school.”


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NOMINEE • Pages 67– 91

Somaly Mam “Somaly, your daughter has disappeared. She wasn’t at school when I went to pick her up. I don’t know where she is!” Somaly can hardly breathe. It’s her bodyguard on the phone and Somaly is terrified that the unthinkable has happened. Her family live under the constant shadow of death threats. Somaly’s struggle for the thousands of girls who are sold as slaves in Cambodia has earned her many enemies. What have they done to her beloved daughter Champa?


he police start their search for Champa, 14, straight away among the criminal gangs that run the brothels of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. That’s where many of Somaly’s enemies are. Her colleagues around the country search

day and night. When Champa has been gone for four days, the police phone and say they have traced her to the northern part of the country, close to the Thai border. It’s an area known for its slave trade, where young girls are bought and sold.

vietn am


nd il a a h t Angkor Vat

Cambodia Phnom Penh

Bay of



Somaly Mam has been nominated for the 2008 WCPRC for her long and often dangerous struggle to save the girls who are sold as slaves to and at brothels in Cambodia. Somaly herself was sold to a brothel as a child, and she wants all girls who have been slaves to have the same opportunities in life as others. Through AFESIP, she has built three safe houses for the girls they rescue from slavery. There the girls get food, healthcare, a home and the chance to go to school, as well as training for jobs when they are older. Above all, Somaly gives the girls safety, warmth and love. 3000 girls who have been slaves now have a better life thanks to Somaly. She and AFESIP speak on behalf of the girls in Cambodia by constantly encouraging the government and other organisations to take care of the country’s girls. Somaly receives regular death threats. In 2006 her 14 year-old daughter was kidnapped, raped and sold to a brothel. People wanted to punish Somaly for her fight for girls’ rights.




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Somaly travels straight there. When she arrives the police have found Champa at a brothel. The kidnappers had raped her first and then sold her to a brothel. Champa’s kidnapping was a horrifying experience for Somaly. “I couldn’t stop crying when I held her again. She had been drugged and didn’t recognise me at all. I took her beautiful face in my


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hands and asked her to forgive me, again and again. It hurt so much. My enemies had taken their revenge on me by hurting my beloved daughter. She had been forced to go through the same horrific abuse that I was subjected to for so many years.” No parents Somaly’s own story begins in the tree-clad mountains of eastern Cambodia. She grew up in a little village with no mother or father. Nobody knew where they had gone. The people of the village took care of Somaly. There was always food and a bed for her at one of the families’ houses. “But at bedtime I saw how the other children lay close to their mothers. I lay alone and it was so cold. I felt so abandoned.”

One day when Somaly was nine, a man came to the village to buy wood. He was going to sell it in the lowlands. Someone from the village told Somaly that the man came from the same town as her father. “He said he knew my relatives and I was delighted when he asked me if I wanted to go back with him. I hoped I’d find my dad in the town.” Things didn’t turn out the way Somaly expected. She couldn’t find her dad, and the man who she had started to call ‘grandfather’ wasn’t so kind any more. “He wasn’t married and didn’t have any children, so he needed someone to help with the housework. He also needed help to earn money so he could buy alcohol. I became his slave. I had to get up at three in the morning every day to fetch

water from the river. I sold the water to different restaurants that served soup for breakfast.” Somaly walked around with the heavy water buckets for several hours. When she was finished, she did the dishes at one of the restaurants before running home to make lunch for grandfather. She spent the rest of the day working for neighbours who needed help in their paddy fields. “After that, in the evenings, I went to a place in town that made noodles. I ground up rice grains to make flour using a heavy stone mill. I was never home before midnight.” If Somaly came home with enough money for grandfather’s alcohol, he was happy enough. If not, he went crazy. “He would tie me up, beat

me with a cane and kick me like a madman.” Sold for the first time One day, when Somaly was twelve, grandfather asked her to go and get some paraffin for the lamp from the local shop. “I knew the man who ran the shop well. He was usually nice to me and gave me sweets. But this time he punched my face hard, ripped my clothes off and raped me. Afterwards he said he’d kill me if I ever told anyone. He also said that grandfather owed him lots of money. Now I realise that grandfather had paid off his debt by letting the man rape me. That was the first time I was sold. That evening I lay down under a big mango tree and cried. I was in pain all over and I felt confused and


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care of the ‘clients’. As a punishment, the owner of the brothel beat me and raped me. Then he locked me into a little room. Before he left he said, ‘Do as I say, or I’ll beat you and rape you every day!’” Somaly dreamt about running away constantly, and once she managed it. They found her though, and as a punishment she was tied up, beaten, and taken advantage of by different men for over a week. “They managed to break me. I had lost the fight,” says Somaly. Set the first girl free Somaly kept herself to herself and just tried to survive.

dirty. I didn’t understand what had happened. Since I had no-one to talk to, I tried to talk to the tree.” Sold again One day when Somaly was fifteen, grandfather said they were going to go to Phnom Penh, the capital, to

Then, however, something happened that was to change her life. “One day, a new girl arrived. She was only ten. She had dark skin and was very thin. It was as though I was looking at myself when I’d just arrived. I didn’t want this girl to be ruined as I had been. She could still have a good life. Quickly, I gave her all the money I had. The owners and guards weren’t there and I managed to let her out. She was free.” When the owners found out that the girl had run away, they said they would punish all the girls. “So I said that it was me, that I had set the girl free. They were furious and they

visit a relative. But he tricked her. The house that grandfather took her to wasn’t his relative’s house, but a brothel. He had sold her. Again. “When I realised what sort of place I had ended up in, I tried to resist as much as possible. I refused to take

Somaly talks to a young girl and her mother. Somaly tells them that AFESIP is there if the family need help.


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beat me for several hours. Then they locked me into a tiny, cramped cage to show the others what happens to disobedient girls.” Rescued them all! The years went by. Somaly had been so badly abused that she no longer had the confidence or the courage to run away. In the end, the owners trusted her so much that she was allowed to leave the brothel with her clients. She always brought the money back. For a while she had a rich American client who

wanted to marry her, but she didn’t want to. She was scared that he would take her to the USA and sell her. Before the man left, he gave Somaly 3000 dollars so that she could start a new life. That was an incredible amount of money. Somaly could have afforded to buy a house and start a little shop. “But I knew that the other girls at the brothel were suffering just as much as I was.

Somaly plays with a little girl in a poor area. AFESIP keep a close eye on young girls because there is a high risk that they will be sold to brothels.

Scared of the dark “I hate being alone in the dark. That’s when all the terrible memories come back. I love being outside, playing with the girls in the paddy fields. When we play football, go fishing and catch crabs together I feel alive again,” says Somaly.

Ever since helping that fi rst little girl get away, I had dreamt of freeing the others too. So I gave the owner the money and he agreed to set all ten girls free! It felt fantastic to see the girls as free people!” The first raid After a while, Somaly met a French aid worker called Pierre. He encouraged her to start a new life. He said that

AFESI P This is how AFESIP, Somaly’s organisation, works:

• They visit brothels to help the girls who are forced to work there and to find girls under 18 who have been sold as slaves. • They carry out raids on the brothels, along with the police, to rescue the underage girls they have discovered. * They help the girls to report the people who have sold, owned and taken advantage of them to the police. If there is a court case, they also make sure the girls have a lawyer. • They give the girls a home, food, healthcare, counselling and the chance to go to school, as well as practical training to become dressmakers or hairdressers. • They help the girls to move back in with their families if possible. • They help the girls to start a new life by giving them practical training. They give the girls the equipment they need. AFESIP visit every girl for at least three years to make sure that things are going well. • They have a helpline that the girls can call 24 hours a day. “The most important thing is that we give the girls tenderness and love. There’s nothing more important than that. Then most of them can grow strong and cope with life, despite everything they’ve been through,” says Somaly.


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she could do it. After eight years, Somaly was finally free. She and Pierre got married. She still kept thinking all the time about the thousands of girls who were still slaves in brothels. She knew that young girls were subjected to terrible abuse every day. Somaly’s dream was to save all girls from this slavery. “I talked to Pierre about my dreams, and we decided to start an organisation called AFESIP (Acting for Women in Distressing Situations) to help the girls of Cambodia.” Somaly began visiting Phnom Penh’s brothels. She taught the girls how to stay healthy and protect themselves from AIDS. She took any girls who were ill to the hospital. The owners wanted the girls to be healthy, so they let Somaly come to visit often. What they didn’t know was that she also kept a lookout for girls were under eighteen and had been sold as slaves. Soon AFESIP carried out their first raid along with the police, to save one of the girls Somaly had discovered. It was a lit-

tle girl called Srey, who was fourteen and had been drugged. Somaly and Pierre took care of Srey in their home. Over time, more and more girls came to live with them. They used up all their own money. Somaly contacted all the aid organisations she could think of and asked them to help her save the girls by giving money. A year later, in 1997, Somaly finally got help and was able to open a little centre where she could take care of the girls who had been rescued. Worth dying for Eleven years have passed since then, and over 3000 girls have been freed from slavery and given a better life, thanks to the hard work of Somaly and AFESIP. They now have three safe houses that are home to 150 girls who have been rescued. AFESIP now works in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos too. Somaly has made lots of enemies though, and she lives with constant death threats. She gets threatening phone calls in the middle of the night, cars

“The only thing that really makes me happy is seeing the girls play and laugh again. That makes me glad too!” says Somaly.

follow her around and people threaten to bomb AFESIP’s homes. Someone set fire to Somaly’s house, and she has to have bodyguards protecting her all the time. She regularly has to go abroad when things get too dangerous in Cambodia. “It is said that the slave trade is more profitable than the drug trade. Brothel owners, the mafia, and some police officers, judges and important politicians earn a lot of money from the trade in young girls. That’s why it’s difficult and dangerous to try to stop it.” Some believe that at least 20,000 girls under the age of eighteen are still in slavery in Cambodia. Somaly is not going to stop fighting for their rights. “I was on the point of giving up after my daughter Champa was kidnapped and sold to a brothel. But then she told me quite calmly that I had to keep going. Champa said that she had me and that she’d be okay despite everything she’d been through. But she didn’t know what would happen to

all the other girls if I gave up. What she said gave me the strength to carry on. The girls call me mum and I really feel that they are my daughters. I love them. The girls and I have been through the same things so I know what they need. Safety, intimacy and love. How could I ever let them down or abandon them? I know I could be murdered at any time, but fighting for a good future for these girls is something I am willing to die for.” 


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Cambodia hit hard A series of bloody wars raged in Cambodia for 30 years from 1963. Houses, roads, farmland and people were destroyed: The USA’s war with Vietnam (1959–1975) also affected neighbouring Cambodia. Between 1969 and 1973, the USA dropped over 500,000 tonnes of bombs on Cambodia. Parts of the country were destroyed completely, and hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Between 1975 and 1979 Cambodia’s communist party, the Khmer Rouge, took power in the country. Their leader was called Pol Pot. During this period, almost 2 million people died as a result of famine, forced labour, torture and murder. Children were killed too. Thousands of people disappeared without a trace. “Many people say that my father disappeared because he was taken by the Khmer Rouge, but nobody knows for sure” says Somaly. The Khmer Rouge’s crimes against the people of Cambodia count as one of the worst genocides in the history of the human race. (Read more about genocide at

As a result of war and violence, Cambodia is now one of the world’s poorest countries. A third of the country’s population live on less than a dollar a day. Almost half (45%) of all children in Cambodia are undernourished. “All the conflict and violence has not only made Cambodia extremely poor, it has also destroyed people. Many have lost their sense of right and wrong. People have become brutal and think only about their own survival. Another person’s life isn’t worth much. I think that’s why so many families sell their own daughters to brothels as slaves. The fact that it is girls who are affected by this is because girls are worth less than boys in Cambodian culture. Girls are often seen as slaves, to be used by the family and other adults. We fight for equality for girls and boys,” says Somaly.


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was sold as a slave When Sreypao was seven years old, her own mother sold her to a brothel as a slave. That was the beginning of a long nightmare. “I think I would have died if Somaly hadn’t helped me. She saved my life and I love her for it. Somaly is my new mother,” says Sreypao.


ere’s one! Come and dig here! Quick!” Sreypao runs as fast as she can to the girls who are on their knees in the paddy field a short way off. Today it’s her turn to carry

the heavy metal paddle that they use to dig up crabs from their holes deep in the mud. During the rainy season Sreypao and the other girls who live at Somaly’s home for rescued girls go out crab hunting almost every afternoon. Sreypao can see the claws sticking out of the mud. She digs around the crab, fi rmly but carefully, to make sure she doesn’t damage it. Then her hand shoots into the

Sreypao, 16 Lives: At Somaly’s home for rescued girls. Loves: Life! Hates: That it’s possible to buy and sell people. Worst thing that’s happened: Being sold to a brothel as a slave. Best thing that’s happened: When Somaly and AFESIP rescued me. Looks up to: Somaly! She saved my life! Wants to be: Like Somaly and rescue girls from slavery.


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Often hungry “Dad died when I was one. Mum tried to take care of me and my five brothers and sisters. It wasn’t easy for her. I’m the oldest daughter so I had to help out a lot. Cook food, wash up, take care of my siblings and that sort of thing. I worked on our neighbour’s paddy field to earn a bit of extra money. We were often hungry. Sometimes we ate once a day and sometimes we didn’t eat at all,” Sreypao recalls. One day when she was

seven, a man and woman came to visit. Sreypao had never seen them before. The couple said they could help the family by getting Sreypao a job as a maid with their relatives in the capital city, Phnom Penh. “Eventually my mum agreed to it and so did I. I wanted to help because I knew that we needed all the money we could get.” Sreypao started to worry as they approached Phnom Penh. She had never been to a big city before. The couple were kind and they said there was nothing to be afraid of. “We’ll kill you!” But as soon as they stepped inside the house, the man and woman changed completely. “They threw me into a


mud, fast as lightning. “Not bad, eh?” she cries, jumping up and waving the crab as close to her friends’ faces as possible. Sreypao laughs. For a long time in Sreypao’s life, however, there was no laughter.

tiny room and locked the door. I was scared and started to cry. I didn’t understand so I shouted, ‘Why are you locking me in? I came here to work as a maid!’ Then they said ‘Stop shouting! If you don’t shut up we’ll kill

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What do you need for a good crab hunt?


… and some friends!

The biggest temple in the world! ...a metal paddle...

The Buddhist temple on Khema’s t-shirt is called Angkor Wat and is in north-western Cambodia. It was built in the 12th century and it’s the biggest religious building in the world. Everyone in Cambodia is very proud of the temple. Angkor Wat is even pictured on the country’s flag and bank notes! Sometimes the girls who Somaly and AFESIP have rescued go on trips to Angkor Wat.

A bucket…

Sreypao’s wardrobe The girls at Somaly’s home have lockers in the dormitory where they keep all their things. Sreypao’s locker contains: A schoolbag with books and pens. Some soap. A bottle of shampoo. A toothbrush. Some toothpaste. A plate and a spoon. A pillow. The colourful straw mat that she sleeps on leans against the wall in a corner of the room, since it doesn’t fit in the locker.

“And I have all my clothes in my locker of course. I love clothes!


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you!’ I was terrified and I wanted to go back home.” Several days passed and Sreypao was still locked up. They gave her water but no food. After a week, the man came in and told her to ‘take care of a client’. “I said that I didn’t know what that meant. That I thought I had come to the house to clean and do dishes. The man was furious and sent four men into the room. They tore my clothes off and hit me all over my body with belts and electrical cables. Then they did terrible things to me. I didn’t know what it was then. Now I know that they raped me. I cried and begged them to stop. Eventually I fainted.” Scorpions and spiders “I was woken by one of them pouring water over me and asking me if I would ‘take care of a client’. When

My school uniform…

I said that I still didn’t understand what that meant they locked me into another room. The room was full of spiders, scorpions and other poisonous animals. After a few days I was badly ill and covered in sores. I cried and called for my mum but they just said, ‘Don’t bother, she can’t hear you. She’s not going to help you!’ I didn’t understand what was going on. They wouldn’t even let me out when I needed the toilet. In the end I couldn’t hold on any longer. I had to do it in my clothes or on the floor. When the man saw what had happened he went crazy and yelled, ‘Why didn’t you say?’ They punished me. They beat me and whipped me again.” Gave up “In the end I gave up. I couldn’t face being beaten again so I agreed to do what

…the traditional clothes we wear when we sew and weave. The girls who live at Somaly’s home for older girls made these clothes. They’re going to be dressmakers and they’re so good at making clothes!

they told me. Things didn’t get better though. They got worse. ‘Taking care of clients’ turned out to be the same thing. Rape and abuse. All night long and from lots of different men. Soon it felt like my emotions were being destroyed in some way. As though I was dead.” Over time, Sreypao was sold to other brothels. One night when she was eleven and had been a slave at various brothels for over four years, she made a decision. “A new ‘client’ was waiting and I knew that I couldn’t do it. Not one more time. I would run away, whatever the cost. Even if it meant that they killed me.” Escape Sreypao asked if she could go and buy a cake at the shop round the corner before the next client. They

agreed, but two men went with her as guards. “Then I said that if they were worried I was going to run away, it might be better if they went to the shop while I waited at the brothel. The men would never believe that I’d dare to run. But as soon as they turned their backs, I ran as fast as I could. When I turned round I saw that they’d seen me and were chasing me. I cried and my heart was beating like a drum. I glanced behind me and ran straight into a couple who were out walking. They could see that I was crying and they asked me what had happened. I explained as much as I could and they said they could help me. They let me get on their

My sport clothes…

… and my favourite clothes. I got this shirt and these trousers from Somaly. They’re the prettiest clothes I have!”


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Together. The girls never go out alone. They take care of each other to make sure nothing happens. motorbike. I was so scared that I was going to be sold again. But the couple worked for AFESIP and they had been out on their night patrol in the park, looking for girls who needed help!” Saved “When we arrived at AFESIP everyone was so kind to me and I realised that I had been saved. Somaly hugged me and said

Tom Yam stock. Coriander for the crab soup.

that everything would be okay. I trusted her straight away. It felt like she understood exactly what I had been through. They gave me soap and clean new clothes. A doctor examined me and then I saw a psychologist. It felt so good to be able to talk about all the awful

things that had happened to me.” After four months, Somaly asked Sreypao whether she would like to move to her home out in the country, and start school. “I was overjoyed. Imagine getting away from Phnom Penh and all those terrible

Sochenda the house mother helps Sreypao to make soup.

memories! And I’d never had the chance to go to school. The day I stepped into the classroom was the happiest day of my life.” Sreypao has now been living at Somaly’s home for rescued girls for almost five years. “I feel so safe here. Somaly, our house mother and everyone else at AFESIP give us so much love. Us girls are like one big family and we take care of each other. Sometimes we talk about all the awful things that have happened to us. Every Thursday a psychologist comes here and helps us too. But most of the time we try to do fun stuff and think of all the good things that might happen in the future.” Equal worth In the future, Sreypao wants to fight for girls’ rights. Just like Somaly, she wants to do it by telling her own story. “If we are to put a stop to


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Somaly is my new mum! “I am sure that my mum knew that she was selling me to a brothel. She sent me out of the room when the man and woman came so that I wouldn’t hear what they said. I don’t know how much money she got for me. I know mum was poor, but I don’t understand how you could sell your own child. AFESIP has helped me to meet up

all this, boys must change. There’s something wrong when you think it’s okay to take advantage of girls and women the way they did with me. Don’t they have hearts? Would they want their own daughters, sisters, wives or mothers to be treated like that? Boys must start to see girls in a different light. They must understand that we are worth the same and that we must be treated with respect! I want to go to schools and talk about what happened to me. If boys hear my story it might make them

with mum a couple of times. I’m still angry with her though, and I never want to live there again. I’d actually like her to be put in prison, but I can’t report her. She is my mum, after all. But Somaly is my new mother now! She loves me and says that she is going to help me achieve my dreams.”

“My first day at school was the best day of my life!” says Sreypao.

think, and start to treat girls better. It’s hard to tell other people about all the horrible things I’ve experienced,

but Somaly gives me the confidence to do it!” 


rescued girls at three homes “When I feel sad and tired, I go to visit the girls at the home where Sreypao lives. The girls give me strength to keep fighting. I love them! We are good for each other,” says Somaly. This home is for the youngest of the girls who have been saved from slavery. At the moment, 39 girls live there. The youngest is just seven years old. When the girls have completed their basic education, most of them move to one of Somaly’s other two homes for slightly older girls. There they can study at AFESIP’s schools and train to become dressmakers or hairdressers. They can even study Maths and Khmer, the language spoken in Cambodia. “I want to go to hairdressing school,” says Sreypao. A total of 151 rescued girls live at the three homes at the moment.

“If any one of us needs help, or if we want to do something, like go on a picnic, we can write a letter and put it in the secret box. Only Somaly has a key to it. She reads all the letters. Since Somaly has been through the same things, she understands our feelings and our needs. I wrote a letter asking for my little sister to be able to live here. I’m scared that mum is going to sell her. Somaly has promised that she can come here and I’m so pleased.” The key to the girls’ dreams…


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A day at Somal y “Good morning girls! Did you sleep well?” It’s still dark outside when Sochenda, the house mother, wakes the girls in the beautiful wooden house on stilts…

5.30 am 5 am Morning workout The girls who like early mornings try to liven the others up. They swap their pyjamas for exercise clothes and drag themselves down the steps to the yard. Then it’s time for a tough half-hour workout – every morning.

Shower After their exercise session, the girls shower and brush their teeth.

6.30 am To school The girls change into their school uniforms. “We always help each other get ready for school. Those of us who are a bit older make sure the younger girls have their uniforms on and that they haven’t forgotten their books,” says Sreypao, 16.

7 am Lessons “I love going to school. I concenBreakfast trate on learning things for the Before breakfast, the girls go to their lockers in the future and I don’t have time to think dormitory and fetch their own plates and spoons. about all the bad things that have happened to me. I didn’t start “Today we’re having rice and beans, but my favourite school until I was eleven, because I missed lots of school years breakfast is fish and vegetables. The food here is when I was a slave in the brothel. Now I’m in the fifth grade, even delicious and I never go hungry,” says Srey Moch, 11. though I’m sixteen. If AFESIP hadn’t paid for my uniform and my After breakfast, each girl does her books, I’d never have been able to afford to go to school,” says own dishes. Sreypao.  TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOs : PAUL BLOMGREN

6 am

12 noon

1 pm

Siesta Time to rest. It’s a lovely feeling to be able to climb up to the house and lie down to read or sleep when the weather is at its hottest outside.

Cleaning The girls take it in turns to clean the house and tidy the garden. Some help to cook dinner. Anyone who needs extra tuition can get help from a teacher from AFESIP.

11 am Lunch All the girls go home from school and eat lunch. 80

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al y’s home for rescued girls 2 pm

5 pm


Weaving Every afternoon, the girls learn to weave and use sewing machines. “When I move away from here I’d like to go on AFESIP’s sewing course. I’d like to be really good at weaving so that I can support myself doing that when I’m grown up,” says Chitra, 13.

6 pm

8 pm

Homework Most of the girls play football and hide-and-seek, or go on crab hunts in the paddy fields. Others wash their clothes, shower and do their homework. At 18.30 the generator is switched on and the home has electricity. This saves the girls from having to do their homework in the dark, even though they are in a rural area where people often don’t have electricity. “We help each other with our homework. If you don’t understand something there’s always someone else who can explain it. I want to be a doctor when I grow up, so I know that I have to study hard,” says Leng, 11 (left), who is studying science here with Sopheap, 12 (right).

Film Time! Somaly thinks it’s good for the girls to watch TV sometimes, so that they know what’s happening around them, both in Cambodia and all over the world. “But my favourite thing is watching funny films – they make me laugh a lot!” says Sreypao.

9 pm Bedtime, under the world’s longest (?) mosquito net The girls fetch their straw mats and roll them out together in two rows on the floor. Then a couple of girls lower the two enormous mosquito nets above the beds. The nets are over ten metres long and protect the girls from catching malaria. Just before the generator is turned off and the lights go out, Sochenda, the house mother, comes in to say good night. “She does that every night. She really cares about how we’re getting on, like a real mother,” says Sreypao.

12 midnight’ The witching hour… Once in a while, one of the girls is woken from her slumbers by someone stroking her leg or her hair. If she looks up, her gaze meets a pair of large, staring eyes and she hears a terrible cackling laugh… “Sometimes when the others have fallen asleep, I sneak out, put on some make-up and transform myself to the house’s own little ghost! I slip back in and choose my victim. First I gently take hold of her foot… Then I drag her out from under the mosquito net as hard as I can, and scream at the top of my voice. Everyone wakes up and they all run around the room screaming. I love dressing up and if it’s possible I’d love to join a real theatre company some day in the future. That’s my dream,” says Kanha, 19.


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They love boys more

“I was so upset when my brother was allowed to start school while I was forced to stay at home and work,” says Ly, 13, who lives in Somaly’s home for rescued girls. “


ere in Cambodia, girls have to do much more housework than boys. From as young as 5 years old, we have to start washing dishes, cooking, sewing, cleaning, working on paddy fields and taking care of our younger brothers and sisters so our parents can work. Boys never have to do these things. The only thing they do is play! When parents ask their children to help them, and the boy doesn’t want to, that’s fi ne. He doesn’t have to. But if a girl refused they’d be so angry. I think it’s unjust and just thinking about it makes me angry. The boys should help the girls. If we helped each other, our tasks would be fi nished quicker and then us girls would also have more free time. After all, we like to play too!” Son goes to school “If a family is poor and the parents have to decide between sending their son or their daughter to school, they almost always choose

to send the son. That’s how it was for me. I was so disappointed when my brother got to start school while I had to stay at home and work. Parents think that boys can get better jobs and will be able to support the family later in life. They think all daughters can do is to stay at home and help with the housework. But I really believe that we can do the same things as boys if we only get a chance. We can work in offices and be managers too! If we are to have a chance of a good life, it’s important that we get to go to school, just like the boys. I love going to school! Here at the centre, we often talk about how life is harder for us girls than for the boys. I hope that this changes and that girls have better lives in the future. But I think this will take time, since all families in Cambodia seem to love their sons more than their daughters. I don’t understand why.” 

Dangerous life for girls “I hate being scared just because I’m a girl,” says Oudom, 15, who lives at one of Somaly’s homes for rescued girls.


“ ife is much more dangerous for girls than for boys in Cambodia. If we leave our homes, terrible things could happen to us. We could be raped, kidnapped and sold to brothels, or be exploited by adults in

all sorts of ways. That’s why there are many girls who don’t want, or don’t dare, to fi nd work outside their homes. I feel the same way and I hate feeling like that. Us girls should be able to move around freely without

being afraid. It should be everyone’s right! Here at Somaly’s centre we take care of each other so that nothing bad happens to us. We never leave home alone – we stick together in big groups. If something bad happened to one of my friends, I’d do everything to help and support her.”


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What is a krama for? A krama is a traditional kind of cloth that is very common in Cambodia. Here is Chitra, 13, showing some of the ways the cloth can be used!

To keep the sweat out of your eyes… … or just because it looks great!

To protect your head from the sun… … and the wind. As a scarf…

…a shawl…

When you buy aubergines…

…or melons at the market!

And wear it like this to go to the Buddhist temple. …a dress…

…and a skirt!


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Synoun got a new life “I was held captive as a slave in a brothel in Thailand for over a year and I thought my life was over. But Somaly and AFESIP have given me a new life. Now I run my own hair salon and I can take care of myself,” says Synoun.



grew up in a poor village in a rural area here in Cambodia. One of our neighbours used to travel to Thailand to buy and sell stuff. She said it was easy to make money there. One day the woman told me that she knew a man in Thailand who could get me a job at a textile factory. Our family really needed the money so I went with her. But the man tricked me. He didn’t take me to a factory. He took me

to a brothel. I was only 16 then, but when they locked me up it seemed like my life was already over. Things were so terrible at the brothel that I gave up any hope of ever getting away from there. Luckily enough, I was wrong. After I had been there a year, the police stormed the brothel and we were set free and sent home again.”

Poor family “When I got home, my mum said that I was never to leave the village again, that I was to stay near home all the time so that nothing bad would happen to me. It wasn’t that easy though. My family were still poor and there was no way of earning money where we lived. How would we survive if I didn’t go and look for work? Dad was worried about my safety the whole time. One day he told me that he had heard of an organisation in Phnom Penh that helped girls who had been sold to brothels. He wondered if they could help us. Dad phoned them and it wasn’t long before

two people from AFESIP came to fetch me. They were worried that my little sister Samnang was also in danger, so they asked if she could come too. Of course our parents said yes and I was overjoyed – I love my little sister.” Pretty haircuts “We were quite nervous when we arrived in Phnom Penh, but Somaly hugged us and all the others were really kind. Soon we were able to


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relax. A couple of days later, some of the girls from the AFESIP hairdressing course came and showed us how to do pretty haircuts and paint nails beautifully. I knew straight away that this was what I wanted to do with my life. While I got started on the hairdressing course, my Synoun, 23 sister began learning to sew Lives: With my little and weave. I really loved the sister. course. I had placements Loves: My family. with different hairdressers Hates: The slave trade. and I dreamt of opening my Worst thing that’s happeown salon and supporting ned: Being kidnapped and sold myself the whole time. But I as a slave in Thailand. had such low self-esteem. Best thing that’s happened: Somaly and the staff supGetting training as a hairdresser ported me and gave me so and help to start my own salon. much love. They said ‘of Looks up to: Somaly. course you can do it’!” Wants to be: A successful hairdresser. Dream: To see other countries.

My own salon! After a year I felt ready. AFESIP asked me to fi nd a

good spot where I could open my salon. I knew there was no point in going back to my village because no-one there could afford to go to a salon for a haircut. But I found a good place where I could live and work in a town that was only half an hour away from my village by moped taxi. Some people from AFESIP went to see it and once they had approved

At ‘Synoun’s Modern Hairstyles’ you can have your hair cut, have your hair and eyelashes permed, get hair extensions, enjoy a facial massage and sort out your nails with a manicure! Hair extensions are really popular among Synoun’s customers and they cost 3,000 real (75 US cents).

the place they helped me to set up. They gave me everything: scissors, combs, hairdryers, cupboards, shampoo… everything! It was incredible. My little sister opened her sewing studio in the same building. It means we can share the rent and keep each other company. AFESIP visited us a lot at the beginning, to see how things 85

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Sisterly love “It feels safe to live with my little sister. Our mum and dad are delighted that things are going so well for us now. They often come to visit and we go home to the village almost once a week,” says Synoun.

were going and check that we were managing and that the people in the town treated us well. That was great. One day Somaly came to the salon and I painted her nails and made them beautiful. That was a good day! She

told me to call her whenever we needed anything. It gives us such a sense of safety to know that Somaly is there if we need help. She or other staff members still come here from time to time to check that everything is OK.

Fair Fashion

If AFESIP hadn’t helped me I would never have been able to get the life I have today. I could never have afforded to train as a hairdresser or start my own salon. It may not always be easy, but it’s fantastic

to be trained and to have a real job. Now I can support myself and I can even help my family. It’s wonderful!” 

It’s hard for some of the girls on AFESIP’s hairdressing and sewing course to find work after the course. This is partly because of the high unemployment rate in Cambodia, but it’s also because many of the girls are not accepted when they return to society. Sometimes they are seen as ‘dirty’ and people choose to buy their clothes or have their hair cut elsewhere. In 2003, AFESIP started ‘Fair Fashion’ to help these girls. The girls make clothes that are sold in Cambodia and abroad. They get a salary they can live on and their workplace is safe. The girls are treated with respect and they can’t be forced to work overtime. Of course, child labour is not allowed at Fair Fashion. This isn’t always the case in Cambodia – almost half of all Cambodian children work. The money Fair Fashion make by selling clothes goes towards rescuing girls from slavery. Right now there are 30 girls working at Fair Fashion in Cambodia, and in 2004 Fair Fashion was set up in Vietnam too.


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Syna rescues slaves When Syna was 13, she was tricked into going from her village in Vietnam to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. When she got there she was sold to a brothel as a slave. Now she is doing what all the girls who have been rescued by Somaly dream of doing…


yna keeps her eyes peeled as she paces the dark corridors of the brothel. She knows that behind each closed metal door that she passes, there may be girls as young as seven years old who are kept imprisoned as sex slaves. She knows what terrible abuse they face and how much they suffer. Syna herself was locked up and exploited by men for three years. Now she works for AFESIP as a social worker at the brothels. In a little room deep inside the brothel, ten girls are waiting for Syna. They are

delighted when she arrives. “Hi! It’s great to see you again! How are things?” asks Syna and hugs the girls one after another. They sit in a circle on the floor and begin to talk. At first it’s all jokes and laughter, but later things get more serious. Several of the girls talk about their ‘clients’ beating them and say that it’s difficult for them to protect themselves. One girl arrives later than the others. She is weak and thin. She is seriously ill and Syna is worried about her. “You have to come to the AFESIP clinic so that we

can help you. Do you promise to come?” The girl nods and says she will try to come. Syna reminds the girls that the best way to protect themselves against AIDS is to use a condom. She also explains how important it is that they wash thoroughly and that they stay healthy. She gives out free condoms, toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap to all the girls. Girl was impaled After the visit, Syna is tired. The darkness, the small rooms and the horrible smell almost always make her feel

“If I discover any girls who have been sold as slaves, I tell the police and they set the girls free. Even though my job often makes me feel sick because of all the old memories, it’s still worth it. Every time a girl is rescued from slavery it makes me so happy!” says Syna.

sick. All the awful memories from the little room come flooding back. “The owner of the brothel used to beat me if I had less than ten men a day. Often I was starved as a punishment. And it was impossible to escape, no matter how much I longed for freedom. The brothel was built on stilts in the water, and the only way of getting in or out was via a narrow, guarded bridge. Around the brothel, the owner had driven sharp wooden poles and iron bars into the waterbed. Once there was a girl who managed to saw the bars off her 87

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little window and she jumped out. She landed on the poles and she was impaled.” “I dreamt of escaping from this prison all the time, and after a year I thought my dream was going to come true. The police raided the brothel and took us to the police station. But it wasn’t long before the woman who owned the brothel came and paid the police. Instead of rescuing us, they drove us back to the brothel.

I shouted that I had been kidnapped and that I wanted to go back to Vietnam, but no-one cared,” Syna remembers. One day, three years later, the police stormed the brothel again. This time, however, things were different. The police carried out the raid with AFESIP, who came to save the girls. “It was totally unreal! I didn’t dare to believe that I was free!”

Syna’s two tasks 1. To take care of the girls who are forced to sell themselves in brothels in order to survive. Most of all, to save them from HIV and AIDS. 2. To save children who have been kidnapped and sold as slaves.

“Not slaves any more!” “Somaly came up to me because she could see I was scared. She gave me a hug, stroked my hair and said ‘How are you my daughter? Don’t be afraid. Everything will be fi ne.’ It was an incredibly long time since I had felt such warmth. I’ll never forget it,” says Syna. She got to live in Somaly’s home for rescued girls and

Syna’s mother searched for her for three years. They love each other very much. Here Syna is helping her mother cook some food.

went to AFESIP’s sewing school. “Then Somaly asked me if I could still speak Vietnamese, since she needed someone who could talk to the girls who have been brought to Cambodia from Vietnam. It scared me, but I said yes straight away! Somaly had given me so much love and warmth, she’d even saved my life. Now it felt like I was given the chance to give something back by helping other girls who are in a hard situation. Syna got to study English, Psychology and Therapy. Most of all, Somaly helped


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her with her self-esteem. It was so low after the long period spent as a slave. “I remember her saying ‘Don’t be afraid, Syna. Now we are strong. We’re not slaves any more!’ She explained to me that I had rights, that I should be strong and bold. And it helped!” Saved 14 girls “Now I’ve been a social worker for almost six years. Along with at least one other social worker, I visit around three brothels a day and try to help the girls there to take care of themselves. It’s a lot to do with teaching the girls how to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS. I listen to their problems too. I’m their friend. If there’s one thing you need when you’re forced to work in a brothel, it’s friendship. There’s no lone-

lier situation. They need warmth and intimacy, and that’s what I try to give. Every time I see the girls I tell them that AFESIP can help them to get an education and a different life. Often, however, the girls have been through so many terrible things that they’ve lost their self-esteem. They are ashamed and they don’t think they deserve anything else. They think that their lives have already been ruined. It was the same for me. Before Somaly helped me I would never have believed that I’d even be able to look another human being in the eye again. Since the girls know I’ve been through the same things, they can see that it is actually possible to get a new life – even for us.” “My most important task at the brothels is to look for girls who are under eight-

een. Girls who have been traded as slaves. If I discover a girl in that situation we tell the police, and they carry out a raid and set the girl free. Then we take care of her. I have discovered and reported fourteen underage girls who have been forced into the slave trade. All of them have found a new life thanks to AFESIP. Even though my job often makes me feel sick because of all the old memories, it’s still worth it. Every time someone is rescued from slavery it makes me so happy! But the thing that would make me happiest of all would be if not one more girl in the world ever had to go through what I’ve been through. All of us are worth more than that.” 

Syna, 23 Lives: With my family in Phnom Penh. Loves: Freedom. Hates: When adults treat children badly and violate their rights. Worst thing that’s happened: Being a slave and not being able to do anything to change that. Best thing that’s happened: That Somaly and AFESIP gave me a new life. Looks up to: Somaly of course! She is an incredibly brave woman. Dream: That AFESIP survives, since there are thousands of children who need our help.


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Family Life “I searched for Syna every day for over three years. First at home in Vietnam and then in Cambodia, since I had been told that many Vietnamese girls had been kidnapped and sold in Phnom Penh. I had a photo of Syna and I went round vil­

Syna and her little brother Tang, 12, are helping their mum to make dinner.

lages and towns knocking on doors, asking if anyone had seen my beloved daughter. I can’t describe the relief I felt on the day I finally saw her picture in a police station and realised that AFESIP was taking care of her. I felt that

“I love Syna and I am incredibly proud of her work,” says her mother, Chou.

AFESIP could give Syna a new life and that’s why we decided to stay here instead of going back home. Now our whole fami­ ly lives together again and I am so grateful for that! I love Syna and I am incredi­ bly proud of her work.

Without Somaly and AFESIP, I’m sure she would have been dead by now.” says Syna’s mother, Chou. Wherever possible, AFESIP encourages girls to return to their families and go back to living a normal life.

is slave trade Most of the girls who Somaly helps have been ‘trafficked’. Trafficking is trading in people, making them into slaves. Over 1,2 million children all over the world are trafficked, which means that they are denied the right to live with their parents, the right to protec­ tion from violence and

abuse, the right to go to school and the right to play. Trading in girls – the slave trade – happens all over South East Asia. Thousands of girls from Vietnam are sold in Cambodia and girls from Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Malaysia are often tak­ en to Thailand. Thai and

Chinese girls are smuggled over the border into other countries like Cambodia. Somaly helps everyone It doesn’t matter to Somaly where the girls come from. Right now there are Cam­ bodian and Vietnamese girls living at the three homes in Cambodia.

AFESIP make sure that girls from Vietnam, Thailand and China can go home again when they are ready, but only if they know that the girls will be treated well when they return. AFESIP also has centres in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.


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ven though all the countries in the world, including Cambodia, have laws to stop discrimination against girls, often they are still treated worse than boys. Many girls are subjected to abuse, trafficking and the worst kind of child labour – slavery in brothels. More than 2 million children, most of them girls, are forced into the sex trade. It is easier to trick and take advantage of girls (and boys) who haven’t learned to read or write. 65 million girls do not go to school. Of the 150 million children who stop school before year five, 100 million are girls. Of the 875 million adults in the world who cannot read or write,

almost 600 million are women. All over the world, women are usually not as well paid as men, even when they do exactly the same work. Although women do two thirds of all the work in the world, they only earn one tenth of the world’s income. Men have more power, both in politics and in business, since it is more common for men to be bosses and leaders. The fact that girls are not treated as well as boys goes against the UN Child Convention. It is written there that all are of equal worth and should have the same opportunities in life, regardless of whether you are born as a boy or as a girl.

Seven social workers AFESIP’s seven social workers in Phnom Penh work in seven districts. They visit brothels, parks and other places where there are girls who are forced to sell themselves and who need help. “In my district alone there are 65 brothels. I visit each brothel once a month,” says Syna. The reason why so many brothel owners let Syna and the other social workers in is because AFESIP helps ‘their’ girls to stay healthy. First and foremost, they help the girls to protect themselves against HIV by giving out free condoms.

100 of Somaly’s girls have died of AIDS F

our out of ten of the girls who are forced to sell themselves in Cambodia are thought to be HIV positive. “When the girls come to us, they can visit our clinic. There, we explain about HIV and AIDS and tell them that they can get tested if they want. But we never force anyone. If a girl decides to take the test and it turns out that she is HIV positive, then we do everything we can to ensure that she gets the right treatment and care. More than anything else, however, we support her, because it’s a terribly sad thing to find out that you are terminally ill. That’s when you need a lot of tenderness and support. I or someone else from AFESIP always go with the girls to the hospital, so that they’re not alone. If the girls go there on their own they may be treated extremely badly. The doctors and nurses often say that the girls are ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’.” “We care for the girls until the very end. One of our homes for girls who have been rescued is named after the first of our girls who died of AIDS. Her name was Tomdy and I’ll never forget her. Since then, over one hundred of our girls have died of AIDS,” says Somaly.


Boys treated better than girls all over the world

Love freedom! “I love freedom! There is nothing worse than being locked up and exploited. That’s why I always tell children not to trust strangers, and not to be tempted to go with people who promise a better life somewhere else. It can all go badly wrong. I know – it happened to me,” says Syna.

Syna with the baby of a girl from one of the brothels.


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L E J U RY P O U R L E P R I X D E S E N FA N T S D U M O N D E 2 0 0 8 E L J U R A D O D E L P R E M I O D E L O S N I Ñ O S D E L M U N D O 2 0 0 8 O J Ú R I D O P R Ê M I O C R I A N Ç A S D O M U N D O 2 0 0 8

the jury for the world’s children’s prize 2008

GLOBEN0746_ENGs001 1


Idalmin Santana


Gabatshwane Gumede


Railander Pablo Freitas de Souza


Amy Lloyd






Thai Thi Nga


Hannah Taylor





Rebeka Aktar


Ofek Rafaeli



Isabel Mathe



AL Hassan OB D GL I E N Hameida Hafed F R WESTERN SAHARA


Rafesh Kumar

Mary Smart




Omar Bandak


Sukumaya Magar



AL OB N D Laury Cristina L G IE Hernandez Petano FR



Maïmouna Diouf


the world’s children’s prize for the rights of the child 2008

07-10-31 16.20.02

Globe no 46  

Issu no 46 of the Globe, the magazine for the World's Children's Prize.