EL GLOBO LE GLOBE THE GLOBE O GLOBO
VOTE! RÖSTA! ¡VOTA!
PRIX DES ENFANTS DU MONDE POUR LES DROITS DE L’ENFANT
PREMIO DE LOS NIÑOS DEL MUNDO POR LOS DERECHOS DEL NIÑO
PRÊMIO DAS CRIANÇAS DO MUNDO PELOS DIREITOS DA CRIANÇA
THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
# 52–53 • 2010/2011
WORLD’S CHILDREN’S P SWEDEN
USA ISRAEL PALESTINE
The people in this issue of The Globe live in these countries
REPUBLIC OF CONGO DR CONGO MOZAMBIQUE ZIMBABWE
Thanks! Tack! Merci ! ¡Gracias! Obrigado! Principal Child Rights Partners The Swedish Postcode Lottery, Save the Children Sweden (distributing funding from the
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency).
Altor, Ericsson, eWork & the Crown Princess Margareta Memorial Foundation.
Bernadotte Academy, the Dahlströmska Foundation, Cordial, Bodman LLP, Olle Remaeus Set & Design and Artn Dito, Centas, HM Queen Silvia Child Rights Sponsors Stockholm International Fairs, Child Rights Partners Bengt Norman & AB Stockmarket, Mässrestauranger AB, Twitch The Hugo Stenbeck Foundation, Sweden Thailand Support, the Health Capital, MISA AB, Floristen the Survé Family Foundation, Helge Ax:son Johnson Foundation, i Mariefred, ICA Torghallen MarieSwedish Television–Radiothe Swedish Society for Nature fred, Gripsholm Inn, Gripsholmshjälpen, Body Shop Sweden, Conservation, the Folke viken, Företagare iMariefred.nu,
S PRIZE for the Rights of the Child
What is the World’s Children’s Prize? ...............................................4 What does the Child Jury do? Jury profiles .............................................................. 5 Mofat from Kenya ............................................... 8 Nuzhat from Bangladesh ......................... 13 What are the rights of the child? Celebrate the rights of the child........ 18 How are the world’s children? ............ 20 PAKISTAN
BURMA VIETNAM PHILIPPINES
What is the Global Vote? Children in Sweden vote .......................... 22 Children in Republic of Congo vote ..................................................... 23 Children in Kenya vote ................................ 24 Children in India vote ................................... 30 Children in Nigeria vote ............................. 44 Children in Guinea-Bissau vote ........ 44 Children in Ghana vote .............................. 45 Children in Burma vote .............................. 56 Children in Pakistan vote ......................... 57 Children in DR Congo vote ................... 58 Children in South Africa vote ............... 60 Children in the USA vote.......................... 61 Children in Brazil vote ................................. 62 Who are the candidates? ................... 67 Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, Philippines ..................................................68–87 Monira Rahman, Bangladesh.............................................88–105 Murhabazi Namegabe, DR Congo .............................................106–125 What is a World’s Children’s Press Conference? ................................. 126 10th Anniversary of the World’s Children’s Prize ..................... 127
Adoptionscentrum, Lilla Akademien and all individual Child Rights Sponsors. Thanks also to: The Child Jury, all students and teachers at Global Friend schools, all Honorary Adult Friends and patrons, Adult Friends, focal points and partners (see pages 130–131), the board of directors and advisory board of the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation, and the boards of directors of Children’s World and the World’s Children’s Prize US.
Editor-in-chief and legally responsible publisher: Magnus Bergmar Contributors to issues 52–53: Carmilla Floyd, Kim Naylor, Monica Zak, Andreas Lönn, Bo Öhlen, Johanna Hallin, Tora Mårtens, Chris Sampaio, Eh Thwa Bor, Britt-Marie Klang, Sofia Marcetic, Lucky Letshwene, Harshit Walia, Jan-Åke Winqvist, Lotta Mellgren Translation: Semantix (English, Spanish), Cinzia Gueniat (French), Glenda Kölbrant (Portuguese), Boonyanuj Pongisavaranun (Thai), Preeti Shankar (Hindi), M.A. Jeyaraju (Tamil) Design: Fidelity
The Globe is published with support from Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) and Save the Children Sweden. PO Box 150, SE-647 24 Mariefred, Sweden Tel: +46 (0)159-12900 Fax: +46 (0)159-10860 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.worldschildrensprize.org
Cover photo: Ewa Stackelberg Repro: Done Printing: PunaMusta Oy ISSN 1102-8343
WHAT IS THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE? The goal of the World’s Children’s Prize is to work towards a more humane world, where the rights of the child are respected by all. Students at schools that have registered as Global Friend schools are welcome to participate. There are now 53,500 Global Friend schools, with 24 million students in 101 countries. Every year the children decide, through a Global Vote, who should receive the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. 7.1 million children voted in the last Global Vote. Before the prize is awarded, several million children have learned about the rights of the child and democracy in the following stages: 1. World’s Children’s Press Conferences (page 126) The World’s Children’s Prize programme begins with World’s Children’s Press Conferences, where children announce the three prize candidates, as selected by the Child Jury, and ask their local politicians questions on the rights of the child. 2. The rights of the child in your life (pages 18–19) You can also read the factsheet on the child rights situation in your country (available on the website). How are the rights of the child in your and your friends’ lives? Discuss how things
should be, and prepare presentations on how things should be, for parents, teachers, politicians and the media. 3. The rights of the child in the world (pages 5–17, 20–21, 67–125) Read about the jury children, how the world’s children are, and about the prize candidates and the children they fight for. 4. Prepare your Global Vote (pages 22–66) Read about children all over the world who vote in the Global Vote, set a date for your own Global Vote Day, and prepare everything you’ll need for a democratic elec-
tion. Invite the media, your parents, and politicians to experience the day with you. 5. Global Vote Day Celebrate with a party and some performances. Report the results for all three candidates by 22 April 2011, in the ballot box on the website, or to the coordinator in your country. 6. World’s Children’s Press Conferences On the same day, all over the world, it is time to reveal who has been voted prize laureate. Invite all media representatives to a press conference in your area on that day. Take the chance to talk about the improvements you'd like to
see in terms of children's rights. 7. The Award Ceremony (pages 127–131) The World’s Children’s Prize programme ends with the Award Ceremony at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred. All three prize candidates receive prize money for their work for children. The total prize money for 2011 is 100,000 US dollars. The jury children lead the ceremony, and Queen Silvia of Sweden helps to present the prizes.
Age limit for the World’s Children’s Prize The World’s Children’s Prize programme is open to anyone from the age of ten up to the age of 17. The upper age limit is because the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that you are a child until you turn 18. There are several reasons for the lower age limit. Too upsetting To be able to vote in the Global Vote, you must first read carefully about the three candidates and the children they fight for. Sometimes, the children’s life stories are horrible, and can be frightening for younger
children. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to create resources for anyone under ten. Talk to an adult This year’s candidates work for children who have been subjected to terrible violations of their rights. Even children over ten can find it upsetting to read about them. So it’s a good idea to ask an adult to help you decide whether you and your friends should participate in this year’s programme. It is also important that you have an adult to talk to once you have read the stories.
Queen Silvia and Mandela patrons Nelson Mandela, Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Graça Machel are some of the World’s Children’s Prize patrons and Honorary Adult Friends. You can find more patrons at www.worldschildrensprize.org.
Members of the 2010 and 2011 Child Jury.
WHAT DOES THE CHILD JURY DO? The members of the World’s Children’s Prize Child Jury are experts on the rights of the child through their own experiences. They can be members of the jury until they turn 18. Every jury child primarily represents all the children in the world who have had similar experiences to their own. But they also represent the children of their country and continent. Whenever possible, the jury includes children from all continents and all major religions. • Through their life experiences, the jury members teach millions of children all over the world about the rights of the child - rights that they have had violated or that they ﬁght for. • Every year, the Child Jury selects the three ﬁnal candidates for the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child from all those who have been nominated during the year. • The Child Jury leads the annual World’s Children’s Prize Award Ceremony. • The jury members are ambassadors for the World’s Children’s Prize in their home countries and throughout the world. • During the week of the Award Ceremony, the members of the jury visit schools in Sweden and talk about their lives and about the rights of the child.
Here are the members of the jury. You can get to know Mofat Maninga from Kenya and Nuzhat Tabassum from Bangladesh later in the magazine. Gabatshwane Gumede, 16, SOUTH AFRICA Gabatshwane’s parents died of AIDS when she was little. People were afraid of catching HIV from her. Despite a test that showed Gaba was HIV negative, she had no friends. At school, everyone laughed at her. Where Gaba lives, most people are unemployed. Many are HIV positive, and many children are orphans. Violations of the rights of the child are common. These days, no-one laughs at Gaba. She is a singer and child rights champion, and many children look up to her. Whenever she can, Gaba buys food for the poor, and gives orphaned school friends food parcels. “I demand that our politicians work for the rights of the child. I have discussed this with the Minister of Education, and made an opening
speech on the rights of the child at our regional state department.” Gabatshwane represents children who have been orphaned by AIDS and children who fight for the rights of vulnerable children.
Ofek Rafaeli, 16, ISRAEL “We talk a lot about the conﬂict between Israel and Palestine at home and at school. In Haifa, where I live, Arabs and Jews live together. I meet lots of Arab people at school and in my free time. I like spending time with all kinds of people, and I don’t see any differences. It doesn’t matter if you are Jewish or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian. For me, the rights of the child are about all children being free and having the same opportuni5
ties. In Israel, many of the rights of the child are violated. Children have a right to protection and to live without the constant fear that they or someone in their family is going to be killed. At school, lots of people don’t care, but I believe the most important thing is that we act. We have to do something about it.” Ofek represents children in conflict areas and children who want to have a dialogue for peace.
Hannah Taylor, 15, CANADA When Hannah was five, she saw a man eating out of a garbage can. Since then, she has been speaking to school children, politicians, executives and the Prime Minister of Canada, to tell them that no-one should have to be homeless. She founded a charity that has raised almost 1 million US dollars for projects for the homeless, and she has started an educatioal programme for schools. “We want to show that everyone can get involved and make a difference for homeless people and the rights of the child. We all need to share what we have and care about each other.
When I was at a home for homeless teenagers, I gave all the children a hug. One of the quiet ones said, ‘Until today I thought no-one liked me, but now I know that you like me’.” Hannah represents children who fight for the rights of the child, especially for homeless children’s rights. Amar Lal , 14, INDIA Amar Lal was born into a debt slave family. He has six siblings, and the whole family were debt slaves at a quarry in Rajasthan. When he was six years old, he was responsible for looking after his younger siblings, and later he began helping his father break stones at the quarry. They used tools that weighed as much as Amar, and it was heavy, tiring work. With the help of BBA (Save the Childhood), Amar was set free and came to a centre for former debt slave children. Now he’s in Year 9 at school, and he wants to become a lawyer and fight for poor people’s rights. “Now I know what freedom is, and I can dream of a future where I am not exploited. Here, we have the right to be children and to laugh and play.” Amar Lal represents child labourers, slave children and children who ‘don’t exist’, because their births were never registered.
Amy Lloyd, 17, UNITED KINGDOM “My mother has never really been there for me. She used to leave me on my own for days at a time. When she came home she would just say ‘What have you done?’ and beat me. When I was 10, my mum called social services and said that if I stayed with her my life would be in danger, and that she would kill me. That day, it was time for me to leave home. I was taken to a stranger’s house, where I just kept asking myself what I had done wrong. My mum always said everything was my fault. For a while I believed her, and blamed myself. Then I realised that it wasn’t my fault. The only thing I have ever wished for is a proper family that loves me whatever I do, however I look, because of who I am.” Amy represents children who have been separated from their parents and are cared for by society. Poonam Thapa, 16, NEPAL Poonam, who is an orphan, was working at a restaurant when one of the customers suggested that she should go with her to Mumbai in India. When they arrived, the women in the house told her
to have a bath and change clothes. The women lied and said that they did handicrafts. When she realised that she had been sold to a brothel, she cried and refused to see ‘customers’. Then they beat her, and almost strangled her. She was subjected to more torture until she gave in. She was forced to be with 15-20 men every day. Poonam had to wear lots of make-up and a short skirt, and the men forced her to drink alcohol. When the police raided the brothel, she asked for help and was set free. Today, she is back in Nepal and Maiti Nepal is supporting her. Poonam represents and fights for trafficked girls who are slaves in brothels, and all girls who are subjected to abuse. Maria Elena Morales Achahui, 15, PERU Maria Helena left home when she was 12. She left the village in the mountains without telling her parents. She thought the teaching in the
village school was poor, and she knew that her family, with eight children, was struggling financially. In the city of Cusco, she became an unpaid maid for her aunt, receiving only pocket money. She had to work so much that she couldn’t go to school. When she complained, her aunt threatened to beat her. She missed her family so much, and went home for a visit. When she returned to her aunt’s house she was thrown out. Now Maria Elena lives at a home run by an organisation called Caith. She goes to school and is in a group that works to defend maids’ rights. Maria Elena represents girls who work as maids, often under slave-like conditions, and fights for their rights.
Bwami Ngandu, 17, D. R. CONGO “Early one morning, our village was attacked by an armed group. We fled into the forest, but I was captured along with 170 other boys and we were forced to be soldiers. The rebels gave us drugs that make us think about killing and destroying.
Once we had been trained to use the guns, we were sent to war. Another boy and I were scouts. We walked ahead of everyone and took part in killing. The rebels forced us to capture other boys and make them into soldiers. Many girls were raped. I was hit by shell fragments in my face and the back of my head. After three years I managed to escape and I found my mother again. Now I go to school and I’m a member of a child rights group. I hate the fact that adults forced me to do terrible things to others.” Bwami represents child soldiers and children in war-torn countries, as well as children who fight for the rights of the child.
Hamoodi Mohamad Elsalameen, 13, PALESTINE “One night Israeli soldiers came to our village in tanks. They gave orders through a loudspeaker, telling everyone to switch their lights on. They shot in all directions, and three people were killed,” says Hamoodi Elsalameen, who lives in a poor village south of Hebron, on the West Bank. When he was five and heard about a little boy being killed, Hamoodi said, “I want a gun!” Now he has Jewish friends, and plays football with them several times a month in Israel. “I like playing football, but we don’t have a pitch in our village. We usually play on a
field further away, but when the Israeli soldiers come to arrest someone, they drive us away. They take away all the fun things,” says Hamoodi. Hamoodi represents children in conflict areas and children living under occupation. Lisa Bonongwe, 15 ZIMBABWE “When I was four, my father drank and beat my mother almost every night. Sometimes she was unconscious on the floor. When I cried and shouted at him to stop, he went crazy and chased me and my big brother out of the house. We had to sleep on the veranda, even in the middle of winter when it was freezing. When I was seven, my mother threw my father out. I joined the Girl Child Network girls’ club at my school. At the girls’ club, we talk about things that are important to us. Outside the clubs, girls aren’t safe at all in Zimbabwe. We are abused, raped, and have to do all the housework. If there isn’t enough money for everyone, it’s always the boys who are allowed to go to school. I help organise meetings and demonstrations for girls’ rights.” Lisa represents children who fight for girls’ rights.
PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
Brianna Audinett, 14, USA When Brianna was eleven, her mother left her violent father. Brianna and her three brothers became homeless in Los Angeles. At first they stayed at different motels, but there were five of them, and motels don’t allow more than three in a room. So they moved around a lot. Then her mother found a shelter where they slept in bunk beds in a dormitory for six months. They had to be quiet, and
could hardly play. Opposite the shelter was the School on Wheels, which gave Brianna and her brothers school materials and help with homework. “When I grow up I want to be a doctor, and help homeless people. They don’t have any money, but I’ll help them anyway,” says Brianna. She is not homeless any more. Brianna represents children who are homeless.
Mofat brave l ”Hi, my name is Nkosi Johnson. I’m eleven and I have AIDS...” The boy who is reciting Nkosi’s famous speech is called Mofat Maninga. He’s 14 and he comes from Kenya. The street children in the city of Kisumu are holding their Decade Global Vote, and Mofat is representing Nkosi, one of the candidates. “But I don’t really need to do much acting. My life and Nkosi’s are very similar in lots of ways,” says Mofat, who is a new member of the World’s Children’s Prize Jury. He represents children who are HIV positive and children who live on the street.
e like Nkosi
ofat grew up with his mother’s family. He and his older cousins used to take their grandfather’s cows and goats to graze. His mother was a nurse and they always had enough to eat. Life was good. But when Mofat was four years old, things started to change. First, his grandfather died. A couple of years later, his little sister died. “And when I was eight, my mother died. My grandmother had taken care of her, and to protect me she hadn’t told me how ill my mother was. It came as a shock. I felt so alone. I often heard my moth-
er calling me in my sleep, and it made me so happy to hear her voice! When I woke up, life felt so unfair.” Afraid of dying
A couple of years later, Mofat started to feel ill and weak. “I got a cough and cold that just wouldn’t go away. In the end, grandma was so worried that she took me to the hospital. She told the doctor that my mother had had a similar cough, and that she died of AIDS. I didn’t know what AIDS was, but I was worried. The doctor tested me and discovered that I was HIV positive too. A psychologist told
me about how HIV could lead to an illness called AIDS, and that I should start taking medicine straight away. I was terrified. I was so scared of dying.” Mofat’s grandmother took care of him as best she could, but she was old and sick. Soon, Mofat had to do all the domestic tasks. He washed clothes, cooked food and cared for the cows, while also trying to get through school and remember to take his vital medicine at regular times. “In the end I was so exhausted that I collapsed unconscious, and was in hos-
Don’t steal children’s freedom! Mofat
“I want to talk to the President of Kenya and tell him that life is hard for children, just like Nkosi did when he talked to the President of South Africa. I want to tell him that his policemen beat children who live on the street and put them in prison. In prison! How can you lock a child up because he or she is forced to live on the street? How can you steal a child’s freedom?! I would tell the President that he should take care of the children instead. Give them a place to live, something to eat and the chance to go to school.”
Nkosi Read about Mofat’s idol, Nkosi Johnson, who was honoured posthumously – after his death – by the World’s Children’s Prize for his fight for children affected by HIV and AIDS, at www.worldschildrensprize.org
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
pital for several days. I really needed to stay in longer, but we couldn’t afford it. When I got home I found out that grandma was in hospital too. My aunts brought me food from time to time, but they always went home again as soon as they could.”
“One afternoon, they told me that grandma had died, and that no-one in the family wanted to take care of me any more. They were scared of catching HIV. I didn’t know how I would get by, and I …and in school uniform.
In his favourite clothes…
We are a family
Beaten by the police
“The other boys are my friends, my brothers. We are a family. Sometimes there are boys who don’t want me to sit in their beds when we tell each other stories at night, who say I should sit on the floor instead. They are scared of catching HIV, and that always hurts,” says Mofat.
asked for help but they refused. Instead, they forced me to leave my grandma’s house. I was thirteen years old.” Mofat left the village and ended up on the street in a small town nearby. The only thing he managed to take with him were the clothes he was wearing: shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of sandals. He didn’t have a penny. He start-
ed to steal hens and chickens and sell them at the market in order to survive. But he got caught. “Three policemen took me to the police station. They tied up my hands and feet and started to beat me. The policemen whipped me and shouted that they were going to teach me a lesson about what happens to people who steal. I tried to explain that it
Friends’ favourite shoes! Mofat’s…
…and his friend Daniel’s favourites.
“My favourite sandals are made out of old car tyres. The coolest sandals right now are the ones that point upwards at the toes. These sandals are called Akala sandals,” says Daniel Owino, 14.
No to glue!
Mofat at the bus stop where he used to sleep. He visits his friends who still live there. “Many of them sniff glue to forget their problems and keep warm, but I never did that. The glue makes them all act strange and violent, so I just didn’t feel like doing it,” says Mofat.
was the only way I could get something to eat, and tried to get them to stop, but they wouldn’t listen. They didn’t let me go until I was coughing so much that I think they were afraid I was going to die. This happened several times. Once they actually brought my uncle in, but he just said he didn’t know who I was.” Became a street child
“Finally they threatened me, saying that unless I stopped stealing they would put a tyre round my body, douse it in petrol and set it alight. That
made me really scared. I decided to move to Kisumu and maybe start back at school.” Things didn’t go as Mofat had hoped. The only people in the city who accepted him as a friend were the children who lived on the street. “During the day we searched for food in the bins outside restaurants, and in the evenings we begged at the bus station. At night we lay close together with paper sacks as blankets. There were seven of us in my group and we tried to protect one anoth-
er. And we needed it, because almost every night the police came and woke us. They beat us and we ran for our lives. Anyone who was caught was taken to the police station and beaten, then taken to the Children’s Remand Home, a youth prison.” The longer Mofat lived on the street, the worse his health became. He didn’t take any medicine and he got a rash all over his body and a constant cough. Living at the Centre
One day he went with some friends to a day centre for street children, called HOVIC. He got food there, and started to go to school again. “I trusted the leaders, so after a week I told them that I had HIV. They took me to
Mofat Maninga, 14 LOVES: Playing Play Station! A couple of my friends have them. HATES: Seeing people being treated badly. BEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED: When I went to the Impala Park with my school. Impala antelopes are so incredibly beautiful. I love wild animals! WORST THING THAT’S HAPPENED: All the times I’ve been so ill I’ve had to go to hospital. I’m scared and I don’t want to die. WANTS TO BE: A doctor and save lives. DREAM: For all the children in the world to have good lives.
We love football
“We often play football and I love it, but I don’t always have the energy to join in. I cough and when I run too much I get dizzy,” says Mofat.
“I made this ball myself!”
hospital straight away, and made sure I got more medicine. The doctor explained that I would die if I continued to live on the street, since he didn’t think I would be able to eat healthily and regularly, and take my medicine at regular times. So the leaders of HOVIC said that I could move in to their home for boys who had lived on the street if I wanted to. Now I’ve been living here for almost a year. This is my home now.” At 19.30 every evening the boys gather. Then they read The Globe together. “Our meetings are really important, and those of us who speak English can translate to Swahili for those who don’t. Leading up to the Global Vote, we work with The Globe during the day as well, down at the centre for all the street kids in the city. So we have learned about our rights, about democracy, and about how elections work.” Nkosi is a hero
“I love reading The Globe. Now I know that even I have rights, and that all children have the right to a good life. I am most inspired by reading about Nkosi Johnson from South Africa. He is my hero! He and I have similar backgrounds. Our families died round about us, and people were afraid and let us down. But Nkosi was brave and strong when he dared to speak openly about having AIDS, and when he demanded that all children with HIV and AIDS should be treated just as well as other children. He said they had a right to medication, to education, and to love and friendship. I want to be just like him! And Nkosi has given me the strength to become that person. Now I want to fight for all children who are affected by HIV and AIDS, and children who live on the street.”
Mofat reads The Globe.
Lots of medicine “Now I can see a doctor whenever I need to, and here I can take my medicine and eat regularly. I’m much healthier than I was on the streets. I have even been able to start going to a real school again. The problem is that it’s a boarding school, and as soon as I become even slightly ill I get sent back to the centre. They don’t want me to die at the school. So I miss a whole lot of classes,” says Mofat. 07.00 Seven pills
13.00 Three pills 19.00 Eleven pills
Nuzhat afraid of drowning N uzhat lives in the little town of Barisal in southern Bangladesh. Every morning she puts on her school uniform, hails a cycle rickshaw and gets a lift to school. “I love going to school and learning things. The absolute worst thing that has happened to me in my life is when I thought our school had been destroyed by the mega-cyclone Sidr.” Cyclones - very severe storms - affect Bangladesh every year. The country is well-prepared, and has a good cyclone warning system. “We knew that a severe cyclone was coming. As luck would have it, we had moved from the village where our relatives live and where we had a house. My parents had rented an apartment in town so that my sister and I could
go to a good school. When we were born, my father planted lots of trees around our house in the village. He had planned to cut down those trees and sell them bit by bit, to be able to pay for our studies. Throughout my childhood I felt safe when I thought of those trees growing around our house in the village. But now there was a terrible cyclone on its way. We pre-
pared by making sure we had food and water at home in our apartment. In the evening I was sitting reading by candlelight when the cyclone hit us. Our neighbour’s tin roof was torn off and thrown against the window where I was sitting. I wasn’t harmed, but a girl from a neighbouring house was killed by a falling tree. I was terrified. I thought the
“If the sea level rises, this part of Bangladesh will end up under water,” explains Nuzhat.
TEXT: MONICA Z AK PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
“If the sea level rises by one metre the southern part of Bangladesh, where I live, will be underwater. I think about that often,” says Nuzhat, 13. “Global warming is causing the ice at the North and South Poles and in the Himalayas to melt. As a result we are hit harder by cyclones and flooding. When I was on my way to school the day after megacyclone Sidr, there were dead and injured people all over the place.” Nuzhat is a new member of the World’s Children’s Prize Children’s Jury. She represents children who have their rights violated through natural disasters and environmental degradation, as well as children who demand respect for girls’ rights.
Nuzhat always goes to school by cycle rickshaw so that nothing bad happens to her on the way.
Nuzhat reads the paper every day to understand what is happening to the climate.
water in the river would rise and we would all drown. Throughout that terrible night, I prayed to Allah that he would stop the cyclone. We were lucky - the water level didn’t rise in our town. But cyclone Sidr killed several thousand people.” Like a nightmare
By the morning the storm had subsided. The only thing
Nuzhat could think about was whether her school was still standing. When she left the house she saw horrific sights. Houses in ruins, fallen trees, and debris all over the streets. “I saw hundreds of dead bodies and lots of injured people. It was like a nightmare, but I kept going - I wanted to know whether my school was still there. It was.” Later, Nuzhat heard that their house in the village had been razed to the ground by the cyclone, and all the trees her father had planted had blown over.
That was the moment when Nuzhat’s commitment to the environment, the climate and the future started. She and her father visited those who were worst hit. She would never forget their despairing faces. They had no homes, no food, no clean water, no clothes. After cyclone Sidr and after the next cyclone, she and her best friend raised money for those who were worst hit. “Since then I have been trying to understand what’s happening to the climate. I read the papers every day. I talk to my mother and father about
Nuzhat Tabassum Promi, 13 LIKES: Reading. FAVOURITE BOOK: Sherlock Holmes DOESN’T LIKE: When girls are not
appreciated LOOKS UP TO: Mother Theresa HATES: Boys who tease girls and throw acid LOVES: My family Wants to be: A teacher
Bangladesh drowning as earth gets hotter
he earth is getting hotter because of the behaviour of humans, and this is a great threat to us all. Global warming is causing the glaciers of Greenland, the Himalayas and the South Pole to melt
and will make the sea level rise all over the world, maybe by several metres. Researchers estimate that one quarter of Bangladesh could be under water within a hundred years. Deforestation
is making the situation there even worse. It is thought that 35 million of Bangladesh’s 150 million inhabitants will be climate refugees in as little as 30 years. Bangladesh is one of the countries that will be
hit hardest, even though the country itself is only responsible for one thousandth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. If the gases known as greenhouse gases continue
Law not enough There is a law that says all children must go to school until Year 9. Today there are almost as many girls in school as boys. But there’s a shortage of school buildings and teachers. That’s why the classes are so big. It’s normal to have 100 students in a class, and in Nuzhat’s class there are 98 girls. Out of the country’s 155 million inhabitants, 4 million are children between 5 and 15 who don’t go to school and have to work.
what I read. Also, in school we have talked about the greenhouse effect, which is causing the earth to heat up. It is making the ice caps around the North and South Poles and the glaciers in the Himalayas melt. If the sea level rises by one metre, the whole of southern Bangladesh will end up under water. Where will the survivors go then? My country is already one of the most densely pop-
ulated in the world! I’m worried. We have to put a stop to global warming. But that means all countries have to help.”
to be released at current levels, global warming will keep getting worse. The result could be that the earth’s temperature increases by two to six degrees. Every degree of heat increase will bring severe consequences for humans, animals and the environment. Some island countries will be wiped out
altogether. In other places there will be drought and desert will spread.
The thing that makes Nuzhat most angry is when people feel sorry for her parents because they ‘only’ have two daughters and no sons. “Girls are worth just as much as boys. The other day I
At www.worlds childrensprize.org you can read more about global warming.
read about a father who went out with his little daughter. Then her body was found she had drowned in the river. The man said to his wife: why did you give birth to a girl? Things like that make me furious. But I feel that my parents are happy and proud of my sister and me.” Nuzhat goes to a school with 2600 girls. “There are 98 students in my class, but only one
Make-up bush outside house Every time Nuzhat looks at the henna bush outside her house, it makes her happy. “It’s my make-up bush. You crush the leaves to make a paste, then use it to paint patterns on your hands. Yesterday I painted my nails and fingertips. And on the palm of my hand I painted a round dot. That’s the sun. It’s like the sun on the flag of Bangladesh. I think that having henna patterns on your hands looks better than nail polish. In my school, we’re not allowed to wear lipstick. It’s against the rules. But we are allowed to make our hands beautiful with henna.”
Rights of the child and the environment Global warming causes flooding and drought, which lead to violations of children’s rights because: • Children don’t get an education, because schools close down. • Children lose their homes and families. • Children are forced to ﬂee. • Children become ill.
The fruit of the jackfruit tree can weigh up to 50 kg.
teacher. That’s why it’s essential to take extra lessons. I’m one of a group of girls who get extra lessons in the afternoons from three different teachers. I believe it’s important for girls to go to school. That’s the best way to change this country. Now there are almost as many girls in school as boys. And the girls get better grades than the boys. All a girl needs is an education, and she can go far. In Bangladesh there are lots of women who have important jobs. Our Prime Minister and three government ministers are women. And the leader of the opposition is a woman. That’s great. But the one I admire the most is Mother Theresa. I’ve read about her at school. She worked with the poorest of the poor. I want to do that too. My goal is to become a teacher.”
The cyclone took all the trees and the family’s house. Nuzhat is planting her first tree after the cyclone. It’s a jackfruit tree, Bangladesh’s national tree.
Nuzhat always travels to and from school by cycle rickshaw. She doesn’t do that just because it’s a long way. She also does it because she is a bit afraid of boys. She hates boys who tease and shout abuse at girls. Worst of all are the boys and men who throw acid at girls. “It costs money to travel by rickshaw, but I feel safer doing that. And it’s the most environmentally friendly
mode of transport there is. Cyclists do not emit carbon dioxide, and do not contribute to global warming.” On the way home from school it starts to rain and she wraps a sheet of plastic around herself to stay dry. The monsoon season – the rainy season – has started. Back to the village
It’s Friday and Nuzhat has a day off. Nuzhat and her
father are going to visit their village. A friend gives them a lift there. On the way the rain starts to pour again. The road is covered in water, and water gushes down from the roofs of the houses. It’s hard to see through the windscreen. “I both love rain and am terrified of it. In June the monsoon season starts, when the weather is hot and it rains non-stop. There’s something romantic about rain. I love
How many planets do you need?
very person makes their mark on the earth. The more natural resources a person uses and the more waste they create, the greater their impact on the environment. Each person’s impact on the earth is called their ecological footprint. One planet would be enough to sustain the lifestyles of most people on earth. However, we’d need 5.5 planets if everyone had the same lifestyle as the average person in the USA, or 3 if we all lived like the average person in the EU. The higher the number of planets, the more your lifestyle contributes to global warming and climate change.
USA needs 5.5 planets EU needs 3 planets
Torrential rain in Nuzhat’s hometown of Barisal, but this time there was no cyclone warning.
the sound of rain on a tin roof. We sit inside and listen to it. My sister and I usually recite poetry. At the same time, I’m scared of the rain. I’m afraid of floods.” When they reach the village, they have to wade through the ten-centimetre deep water that covers the ground. She sees the little hill where their house used to be. There is absolutely nothing left of it. They take shelter from the rain in a small house where some relatives live. “The storms, cyclones and floods have become much worse. One of the reasons is deforestation. The huge rivers that run through Bangladesh start in the Himalayas and run through India and my country, and reach the sea where I live. All the way along the river, forests have been cut down. That means that the water doesn’t get drawn
up into the earth, so there is more and more water in the rivers. It’s disastrous. Especially for a country as low-lying as mine. But we can’t just sit and wait for everything to get worse. We have
to do something, like plant trees. The trees absorb the carbon dioxide in the air. They stop the earth from being washed away, and they give shelter from strong winds.” When the rain stops for a while, Nuzhat wades out on the slippery ground and plants some tree seedlings that she and her father bought on the way here. The very first tree she plants is a jackfruit tree. This is Bangladesh’s national tree. “The fruit grows really big and can weigh as much as 50 kg. When they are unripe you can use them as vegetables, and when they are ripe you can eat them as fruit. You can eat the seeds too. You can use the trunk to make furniture and doors.”
Nuzhat’s greatest dream for the future is to put a stop to global warming, so that her country doesn’t disappear underwater. “And to be a doctor. I’ll work with the very poorest women in Bangladesh. And once I’ve earned some money I’ll rebuild our house in the village that was destroyed by mega-cyclone Sidr.”
Plastic bags not allowed
Nuzhat with her little sister, mother and father. Before, the average woman used to give birth to seven children. Today, that figure is down to 2.7 children. This is known as the Bangladesh Miracle. How did it happen? Family planning, good maternity care, vaccinations and a new perspective on the importance of children going to school. Today, many parents are proud of only having two children, and proud that they go to school.
Find out your footprint!
Global average 1.25 planets
You can find out your own ecological footprint and calculate how many planets we would need if everyone on earth lived as you do here: www.myfootprint.org www.footprint.wwf.org.uk www.earthday.net/Footprint
12-year-old Ripon has just finished work for the day in a CD shop. Before going home he buys fruit for his mother. The fruit is put in a paper bag. There used to be 129 million plastic bags made in Bangladesh every day. 100 million were used every day. That was bad for the environment, and the bags blocked drainpipes and caused flooding. So the manufacture of plastic bags was made illegal. “There used to be plastic bags lying around all over the place. Now you hardly see any at all,” says Ripon.
Thumbs up bad
Don’t do a thumbs up sign in Bangladesh. It means “I don’t give a damn about you!” It’s very rude.
Thumbs up good
In many other countries, people use the thumbs up sign. There it means: OK!, or that something is really good. In those countries, thumbs down means something is bad.
Celebrate the rights of t illustr ation: lot ta mellgren/ester
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child consists of 54 articles. We have summarised a few of them here. Read the full text of the Convention here: www.worldschildrensprize.org Basic principles of the Convention: • All children are equal and have the same rights. • 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 in the world.
You have the right to life and the right to develop.
Your parents are jointly responsible for your upbringing and development. They must always put your interests first.
All children are equal. 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 language, your religion, or your opinions.
You have the right to a name and a nationality. 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.
Those who make decisions affecting children must put the interests of the children first.
All children have the right to say what they 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.
You have the right to protection from all forms of violence, neglect, abuse and mistreatment. 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. 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.
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 applies to you and all other children under 18. All the countries in the world except Somalia and the USA have ratified (pledged to follow) the 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!
f the child 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 good life. If you are disabled you have the right to extra support and help. Article 24
When you are sick you have the right to receive all the help and care you need. Articles 28–29
You have the right to go to school and to learn important things, such as respect for human 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.
You should not be forced to do hazardous work that prevents your schooling and damages 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 protection and help.
THE CHILDREN’S PLATFORm
No one is allowed to kidnap or sell you. Article 37
No one should punish you in a cruel and harmful way. Article 38
You never have to be a soldier or take part in armed conflict. Article 42
All adults and children should know about this convention. You have the right to learn about your rights.
FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
You have the right to play, rest and free time, and the right to live in a healthy environment.
How are the worldâ€™s Survive and grow
2.2 BILLION CHILDREN UNDER 18 IN THE WORLD 82 million of those children live in the only two countries that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Somalia and the USA. All other countries have promised to respect the rights of the child, but violations of those rights are common in all countries.
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, 136 million children are born. Around 51 million of these children are never registered. There is no documented proof that they exist!
You have the right to life. Every country that has promised to respect the rights of the child must do all it can to allow children to survive and develop. 1 in 15 children (1 in 8 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 24,000 children under the age of 5 die (8.7 million a year) of diseases caused by lack of food, clean water, hygiene and health care. Vaccinations against the most common childhood illnesses help save 2.5 million lives a year. But 1 in 5 children is never vaccinated. Every year, 2 million children die of diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. 4 out of 10 children in the 50 poorest countries do not have access to clean water. Every year 1 million people die of malaria, most of them children. Only 3 in 10 children with malaria receive treatment, and only 2 in 10 children in the poorest malarial countries sleep under a mosquito net.
A home, clothing, food and security You have the right to a home, food, clothing, education, health care and security. More than half of the worldâ€™s children live in poverty. Around 700 million children have less than 1.25 US dollars (0.80 UK pounds) a day to live on. An additional 500 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 receive support so that you can 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.
Protection in war and flight 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 306 million children work, and for most of them, the work they do is directly harmful to their safety, health, morale and education. Some 10 million children are forced into the worst forms of child labour, as debt slaves, child soldiers or prostitutes. Every year, 1.2 million children are ‘trafficked’ in the modern day slave trade.
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.
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 there are still 93 million children who get no education whatsoever. 6 out of 10 of these children are girls.
Protection from violence
YOUR VOICE MUST BE HEARD!
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. 29 countries have forbidden all forms of corporal punishment for children, so only 4 out of 100 children are fully protected from violence by law. Many countries still allow corporal punishment in schools.
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 in the child’s best interests.
Is this how things are in your country and in the world today? You and the rest of the world’s children know best!
TEXT: SOFIA KLEMMING ILLUSTRATION: LOTTA MELLGREN/ESTER
Children who live on the street
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 10 years at least 2 million children have been killed in war. 6 million have suffered serious physical injuries. 10 million have suffered serious psychological harm. 1 million have lost or become separated from their parents. 300,000 c hildren have been used as soldiers, carriers or mine clearers (10,000 children are killed or injured by mines every year). At least 20 million children have had to flee their homes or countries.
Monira Rahman Cecilia FloresOebanda
Murhabazi Namegabe Monira Rahman Cecilia FloresOebanda
Murhabazi Namegabe Monira Rahman Cecilia FloresOebanda
All pupils at Global Friend-schools have the right to vote in the Global Vote up until you reach the age of 18. In the Global Vote, you decide who should be given the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child 2011. You can visit Global Vote Day in different countries on pages 22–66.
nce you have discussed how children’s rights are followed where you live, and once you’ve read about the jury members and the children who take part in the Global Vote, about the candidates and the children they are fighting for, then it’s time to start preparing for your own Global Vote Day.
Invite the media
As soon as you've agreed on the date of your Global Vote, you need to invite all the local media to attend. The newspaper cuttings here are from Global Votes in Sweden and India.
When the first Global Friend school in the world celebrates the 10th anniversary of the World’s Children’s Prize, the pupils make the ballot boxes out of ice! Well they are experts in making things out of ice and snow after all. Their school, Montessori Droppen, is in Haparanda right up in northern Sweden, where they have snow for more than half the year. Since the temperature is above zero, the snow is quite wet and Droppen’s Global Vote Day therefore opens with the first snowball fight of the year.
A lot of preparation is needed to make sure that the Global Vote is a democratic election, in which voters are guaranteed that their vote will be kept secret. No-one should know who you voted for unless you tell them yourself. You need to prepare: • Electoral register: Everyone who has the right to vote should be on the lists and should be ticked off when they are given their ballot paper, or when they vote. • Ballot papers: Use the ones you get from the World’s Children’s Prize, or make your own. • Voting booths: You can borrow voting booths from the adult elections, or make your own. You enter the booths one at a time so that no-one sees who you’re voting for. • Ballot boxes: You will see various kinds of ballot boxes in The Globe. They can be made out of cardboard boxes, for example, or a large can or woven palm leaves. • Ink to prevent cheating: Ink on the thumb, a painted nail, a mark on the hand or face, there are lots of ways to show that you have already voted. • Appoint election ofﬁciator, election supervisors and vote counters: The election officiators tick off the names on the election register and hand out ballot papers. The election supervisors make sure that the election, ink marking and vote counting has been done correctly. The vote counters count the votes and send in the results.
Children in Kenya preparing ballot boxes and posters.
When the vote is over, many celebrate children’s rights and their Global Vote Day with performances, biscuits, tea and cake, or in some other way. Some organise a demonstration for children’s rights.
TEXT: MAGNUS BERGMAR PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR & SOFIA MARCETIC
Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011 Global Vote 2011
THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
WHAT IS THE GLOBAL VOTE?
The first sc ballot bo xe
Watch Global Vote video at www.worldschildrensprize.org
st school votes in bo xes made of ice!
ls ut rts e
he ground is covered with the first snowfall of the year when the pupils of Droppen hold their Global Vote Day. Later on in the year the snow will be over a metre deep. The children have stuck home-made flags in the snow to represent all the countries participating in the Global Vote. “It’s really quite fantastic that our little school was the first school to join the World’s Children’s Prize in 2000, and that today millions of children join in every year,” says Alexandra Nyström. “It’s good that children’s rights exist. They’re important, to make sure that children around the world have a good life. They are also important for children in
Sweden. There are lots of children who have a tough time here as well. And it’s important for us to know how things are in other countries,” says Ambjörn Joki. Snow games
“At break I play football in the snow. And sometimes I make a snowman, or a snow animal or snow base,” says Emma Rönkkö. “You need wet snow to have a snowball fight and make snow lanterns and snowmen, but you need loose snow and temperatures below zero to make angels, otherwise you get wet. “To make a snow angel you have to lie on your back in the snow and first move your arms up and down at the side
Alexandra Nyström receiving the World’s Children’s Prize glass globe for being the world’s first Global Friend school, Montessori Droppen, from Queen Silvia, at the 10th anniversary of the World’s Children’s Prize at Stockholm City Hall.
Football children to make wings. Then you move your legs out to the side and back again and you get a skirt as well,” explains Jenna Mäntylä. “When we make a snowman, we start by making a snowball and then we roll it in the snow. More snow starts to stick to the ball and it gets bigger and bigger. When it almost reaches your waist then it's ready and becomes the bottom part of the snowman. Then we make another ball almost as big as the first and put it on top. Finally we make a slightly smaller ball for its head. We put a scarf round his neck and use stones for the buttons on his jacket. We stick twigs in as arms and maybe a carrot for a nose. He gets eyes and a mouth as well.”
The children at the Football School Gothia Cup in the Republic of Congo held their Global Vote Day for the fifth time.
Injustice is common “Children’s rights are often violated in DR Congo. Children get beaten and treated badly and are left alone and forgotten. But that happens all over the world. Many here can’t go to school and the parents neglect their children due to financial reasons.” Taba Ngote Michel, 14
Often violated here “The Global Vote went well here in DR Congo, especially at the Football School Gothia, where I go. I hope that things will change so that the rights of children in DR Congo are respected. Children’s rights are often violated here and my rights are not fully respected in my own family either.” Yannick Baniakina, 14
Children forgotten “Children's rights are not respected here. The parents don’t look after their children. And the government doesn’t think about the children who live on the streets. They become bandits and robbers. Something needs to change.” Ndoba Loïc, 14
Mary has the right to be respected!
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN phoToS: KIM NAYLoR
On the grass between the ballot boxes and the queue of voting students, Mary Akinyi, 15, sits in a red wheelchair. It is Global Vote Day at Joyland Special School for the Physically Challenged in Kisumu, Kenya. Mary is nervous. Many children from other schools, who are not disabled, have been invited to the Global Vote. Mary isn’t sure whether she has the courage to recite the poem she has written. What if they start to laugh at her?
ut Mary decides to go for it. After all, she has the chance to tell everyone what it’s like to have your rights violated. How it feels when you’re not respected for who you are. Her voice trembles, and then gets stronger and stronger as she reads: “There is no application form to be disabled. If there were, I do not imagine myself filling one in...”
‘healthy’ ones who usually make life difficult for us. They stare, laugh and point. It feels horrible. As if we’re aliens,” says Mary. She has had that feeling for most of her life. “My parents died when I
was small, so I had to live with my aunt. Just like almost all parents of disabled children, she was ashamed of me, and kept me hidden away. I was never allowed to leave the house. I could never go out and play. The idea of going
A hush descends over the people queuing to vote. Everyone is listening to Mary. When she is finished, there is an explosion of applause. Mary looks around, blushing. She is surprised. She hadn’t expected that! Never got to play
“I was afraid that the children who are not disabled would laugh at me. After all, it’s the
In the voting booth
Mary votes for her favourite candidate in the Global Vote.
On the way to the ballot box in the tree.
“I want to be treated like everyone else. As I see it, my wheelchair is just a mode of transport, and for me it was obvious that I should join the queue to vote, just like everyone else.
“When I grow up I want to be a lawyer and fight for equal rights for all children. I want to take care of orphaned children in my own home,” says Mary.
to school was totally unthinkable. “I was never allowed to eat at the table with my aunt’s family. I had to sit on the floor and eat leftover scraps. I wasn’t even allowed to wash, or wear clothes like other people. I wore a torn old blouse on top, and from the waist down I was naked. I didn’t have a wheelchair, and most of the time I just had to lie on the floor. Since I wasn’t
very mobile and nobody helped me, I hardly ever made it to the toilet in time. When I needed comfort and called my aunt ‘mum’, she would shout at me that she would never be my mother.” Global Vote
“When a neighbour saw me, he was furious with my aunt. He said that of course I should be treated like all other children! He helped me get into the school where I now
live. Here, I get help to wash and eat good food. Finally, I dared to believe that life could be better. And it is! I’m doing well at school, but the most important thing is that I have found friends, a family. Finally, I feel like I belong somewhere, just as everyone should feel in life. You shouldn’t have to be alone. Today when I read my poem, I got the same lovely feeling. When everyone really listened and then clapped, it felt like we belonged together. And it felt like I counted. Global Vote Day is incredibly important to me, because it was through reading The Globe magazine and preparing for the Vote that I first
found out that we disabled children actually have rights. Today, I voted to fight for all children’s rights to be respected. For my right to be respected just as I am!” You can hear Mary read her poem at www.worlds childrensprize.org
Behind the voting booth someone has written:
Not alone any more
“I have found the best friends in the world at school. They are my sisters, my family.” Here is Mary in the school dormitory with Sarah Opiyo, Mercy Atieno and Caroline Atieno, all 12.
Global Vote makes us one! “Every child has the right to a good life. If you have a disability, you have the right to extra help and support. That’s what it says in Article 23 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” says Moreen Anyango, 13. Her speech is being translated to sign language, while children from twelve schools listen.
Mandela plays accordion As the queue for the ballot boxes snakes around the school buildings, the visually impaired children in Kibos Band provide the entertainment. George Mandela plays accordion.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
“I love playing accordion in the band, and today it’s going better than ever. It feels very special to play at the Global Vote, a day when we celebrate the rights of the child. It is fantastic that children who have disabilities and children who don’t come together as friends. I’ve never seen that happen before! Those of us with disabilities are discriminated against and excluded. Usually our parents are ashamed of us and don’t let
us play with other children. Sometimes you wonder if you are a human being at all. But today, we’re learning about our rights along with children who don’t have disabilities. They see that we are just like everyone else.” George Mandela, 15, Kibos School for the Visually Impaired
“Article 23 says that disabled children are children like the rest of us. That they are important, and should be taken care of in a special way. That’s not always how things are here in Kenya. But today is a fantastic day for ALL the children here. We get to learn that all children have the same rights and the same needs to learn, to play, to be listened to, and above all, to be loved. This is a day where we become friends. We become one! This is happening for the first time at the Global Vote, and it feels great. Now I hope that we can spend much more time together, and fight for each other’s rights.” Moreen Moreen Anyango, 13, Joel Omino Primary School
Named after father’s idol “Nelson Mandela is my father’s idol. I was born in 1994, the year Mandela became President of South Africa, so I got called Mandela! It’s a good name,” says George.
In 2010, Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel were voted Decade Child Rights Heroes by 7.1 million children in the Global Vote. Read more at www.worldschildrensprize.org
Vote count for twelve schools’ Global Vote.
rg o G
G ou s
lobal Vote hai r st
“Global Vote Day is party time. It’s our very own party, so it’s an extra special chance to dress up!” says Haleen.
Haleen Akinyi, 11, Joel Omino Primary School
Zwena Achieng, 12, Covenant Academy
Joyce Awuor, 11, Aga Khan Primary School
See the children’s demonstration at www.worldschildrens prize.org
“We want!” “Our rights!!!” “We want!” “Our rights!!!” “Child labour!” “Stop, stop!!!” “Sexual abuse!” “Stop, stop!!!”
The children’s rhythmical chants travel far, as the children end their Global Vote with a children’s rights demonstration. The girls at the front are leading the march with strong voices, and the dust of the red dirt roads swirls around as hundreds of children surge along the streets, either on foot or by wheelchair.
Friends Castro, David and Jan got ready for the Global Vote by writing WCPRC on each other’s faces in bright colours. “We wrote WCPRC on our faces because we’re proud to be part of the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. Voting feels like an important and solemn act, because we are showing our support for people who fight for the rights of the child. And just by voting, we too are fighting for the rights of the child,” says Castro. “Exactly! That’s what the World’s Children’s Prize is all about. Children all over the world getting together to fight for all children to have good lives,” says David. “It’s so important that we’ve written WCPRC across our faces. We want everyone to see what we’re fighting for,” says Jan. Castro Jasper, 11, David Kenneth, 13, and Jan Omondi, 12, from Joel Omino Primary School.
Children from 12 schools! Children from Kibos School for the Visually Impaired, Joyland, Central, Lutheran Special School for the Mentally Impaired, Nanga, Covenant, Burkna, Kudho, Joel Omino and Agha Khan were invited to the Global Vote at Joyland Special School for the Physically Challenged. 27
Prison children vote Mercy and Collins are kept locked up at a children’s remand home. Their only ‘crime’ is not having any parents. But at least they got to read The Globe and participate in the Global Vote. “
hen my mother and father died, my grandmother couldn’t afford to take care of me. She said I should go to my uncle’s place in Nairobi, but he wasn’t there. A neighbour said he had moved house. I walked around town searching, but when I still hadn’t found him by 10 pm, I went to the police. They didn’t know where he was either. Then they locked me up in a children’s remand home - a prison. “After a month, I was sent to this children’s remand
home with four others, because we come from this area. I’ve been here for a month. I don’t understand why I’m not allowed to go back to my grandmother’s house now that I’m back in this area. Instead, I’ve been locked up here. I think it’s strange that children who haven’t committed a crime, haven’t done anything wrong, can be locked up with criminals. Nobody has explained why this has happened. It feels like it goes against my rights, like the adults are violating my rights.
That’s why it feels so important for me to vote for someone who fights for my rights and other children’s rights today. It feels just like the candidates we read about in The Globe are fighting for me personally, because they want children all over the world to have good lives. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. But this morning, a child rights lawyer came to the Global Vote and said that she’d help us
Mercy votes in the Global Vote, locked up in the children’s remand home.
to get home. I really hope it’s true. When I grow up I want to be like her. A lawyer who fights for the rights of the child.” Mercy Anyango, 12
Although Mercy and her friends at the children’s remand home were locked up on Global Vote Day, they still managed to make it a special day full of games and children’s rights.
Arrested at the bus station I
“ live here, but it is definitely not my home. When my mother died, my father moved away and I stayed with my aunt. But she didn’t want me. I have an uncle in Nairobi who wanted to take care of me, so I tried to go there. But I didn’t make it. As soon as I got to the bus
like this. The police and the others should help us get home instead. Children should not be treated like this. “This morning we voted in the Global Vote, and it was fantastic. When we read The Globe I found out that
there are adults who actually fight for children to have good lives. That made me happy. I wish that someone like that could help all the children whose lives are like mine. Children who are locked up.” Collins Oduor, 12
Collins (in the middle) is waiting for his turn to vote in the Global Vote for the rights of the child at the children’s remand home.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN phoToS: KIM NAYLoR
“We got to dance, play and get our faces painted at the Global Vote. It was such a fun day,” says Collins.
station, the police stopped me. They questioned me, and when they heard I was alone they refused to let me travel. Instead they arrested me and locked me up in an adult prison. I had to stay there for three weeks. It was horrible, because I didn’t know why I was there. I tried to explain that my uncle in Nairobi wanted to take care of me, but the policemen got angry and beat me, and said that they knew what they were doing. Now I’ve been here at the children’s remand home for two months, and they say that I will be allowed to go to my uncle’s, but I don’t know when. It is not right to put children in prison
Jetu checks out The Globe and the teacher
The Prime Minister of the Children’s Parliament has come to evening school to check that the teacher is doing his job. This evening the pupils are reading The Globe and preparing for the Global Vote.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: PAUL BLOMGREN
Children’s Prime Minister w a N It’s the night before the Global Vote in the desert in Rajasthan, India. In the village of Paladi, the students at the evening school are having one final review of the candidates in the prize magazine, The Globe. Suddenly, the teacher starts to look nervous. He has discovered that the Prime Minister of the Children’s Parliament, 14-year-old Jetu Devi, will be sitting in on the lesson. And he knows what that could mean…
ow he has to show that he takes his responsibility as a teacher really seriously. Three former teachers at the village evening school have been sacked after an inspection by Jetu or one of the other ministers in the Children’s Parliament. The evening school is part of an organisation called Barefoot College, and the students here have a great deal of influence over how it is run. “You could say that we, the children, are the ones who own the evening schools, through Barefoot College. The schools don’t exist for teachers or for our parents. They exist for us. And since
the evening schools are the only form of education that the majority of us will get in life, it’s important that they are as good as they can be. So teachers who don’t take us seriously, who turn up late or who don’t turn up at all, are simply not good enough. They get the sack straight away!” whispers Jetu as she keeps a close eye on tonight’s lesson, which is about the World’s Children’s Prize. Jetu is enjoying being sent on a mission to inspect the evening schools, where today’s lesson is all about the rights of the child and the Global Vote. She knows that she and the other children are not only learning important
A loaded camel…
Sisters read The Globe
Jetu’s sisters Matura, 13, and Samutra, 11, read The Globe at the evening school in the village.
w ants to fight for girls things. She is also having an influence over her own life and her friends’ lives. The rest of the time, everyday life is filled with work for her and most of the others at the evening school, since they are girls too. The girls work
“I wake up early every morning and the first thing I do is to sweep the house and the yard. Then I go to fetch water from the well. On the way home I give grass to our buffalos and goats. Then I make breakfast for my mother and me. Once we’ve eaten, my two sisters and I go to the fields with our mother and father and work all day. We
work at least nine hours a day. My two brothers never come. They go to school instead. When I get home I milk our animals. Then my mother, my sisters and I make dinner for the family. That’s what my life looks like. Every day,” says Jetu. Barefoot College saw that the poor families in Rajasthan often needed their children to work in the fields to get by. That’s why they started evening schools in the villages, so that children who were forced to work during the day would have the chance to go to school in the evening. Today there are 159 schools with a total of four thousand students. Three
thousand of them are girls. Barefoot College started a Children’s Parliament, so that the children themselves could have an influence over their schools. The students of all the evening schools elect the ministers in the Children’s Parliament through democratic elections every three years. The ministers’ main task is to check that the schools are working well, that the teachers are doing their job and that the children are treated well. The boys go to school
“I was delighted when I was elected to be Prime Minister, because I want to fight for our rights! As Prime Minister,
Jetu Devi, 14 LIVES: In the village of Paladi in Rajasthan, India. LOVES: Going to school and learning things. HATES: When people think that girls are worth less than boys. BEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED: When I was elected to be Prime Minister of the Children’s Parliament. WORST THING THAT’S HAPPENED: That now I’ve finished Year 5, the last year of evening school, I can’t continue to study at a normal school. WANTS TO BE: A teacher in one of our evening schools. DREAM: That politicians will think about what’s best for children when they make their decisions.
Different stories for boys and girls
First, Jetu works in the fields for nine hours, with her sisters Matura and Samutra.
I inspect at least one school a week. And once a month the Parliament meets in one of the villages where we have an evening school, and I chair that meeting. We invite the adults in the village to the meeting as well. Parents, village leaders and politicians. We tell them to let their children go to school instead of working. We explain that it’s wrong to beat children and that you have to take good care of children. By going to evening school and by participating in the Children’s Parliament, we learn about our rights and about democracy,” explains Jetu. Part of the evening schools’ teaching on the rights of the child involves reading The Globe magazine and participating in the Global Vote every year.
Helping out or child labour
…then she cleans, fetches water and cooks dinner...
“I think there’s a big difference between helping your family grow crops, and parents sending their children to work in factories and the like to earn money. That’s child labour, and it’s wrong. That’s something that we in the Children’s Parliament are fighting against,” says Jetu.
“I love reading about the people who fight for girls to be free in different parts of the world. It inspires me - I want to be like that when I grow up. And we really need people to fight for us girls here, because there is such a difference between how boys
and girls are treated. Girls don’t get the same opportunities in life. “Here, it’s the boys who get to go to school, because parents hope that their sons will get a good job in the future and be able to provide for the family. They don’t think about us girls like that at all, since we’re just going to be married off into another family. Parents don’t think there’s any point in investing in their daughters’ education. I think that’s wrong! It is unjust that my brothers get to go to school in the morning and learn important things, while I have to go out and work in the fields. In my dream world, it would be just as natural for girls to go to school as it is for boys. And men and women would help each other with all the housework, because that would make life easier
for us girls. I know we have a long way to go, but I believe that slowly, slowly, there will be more equality between boys and girls here. Those of us who have been to evening school and read The Globe know how things really should be,” says Jetu. The Global Vote
The lesson draws to a close and both Jetu and the teacher are satisfied - the inspection has been a success. “In this case, as a child I have more power than an adult. My word means a lot. Outside the Children’s Parliament and the evening schools, that is not the case at all. A child’s opinion means nothing here. That is both wrong and stupid, because we have so much to offer. That’s why it feels important to vote
Jetu helps her dad with the family’s buffalo.
in the Global Vote tomorrow. That’s when we get a chance to show that we support and admire those who keep fighting for us children to be treated well and to have our voices heard, regardless of where in the world we live!”
…while her brothers Sarvesswar and Balram play with their friends after a day at school.
…carrying children to the Global Vote in the desert…
A camel arrives loaded... ...with children on their way to the Global Vote in the desert...
Think for yourselves! Soon it will be time for the Global Vote, and the ministers of the Children’s Parliament have brought the evening school students together in different small groups. Jetu is sitting under a tree with her group.
“Namaskar! Hi!” “Hi!!!” “Do you know who I am?” “Yes, we know.” ”You’re Jetu, the Prime Minister!” For many of the children, especially the young girls, Jetu is a role model. Someone
Children’s Parliament gives freedom
Here we are at the Global Vote.
“The meetings of the Children’s Parliament and the evening school lessons are often the only times we girls are free from working at home or in the fields. Then we can finally meet up with our friends and if we’re lucky we even get some time to play and dance!” says Jetu.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: PAUL BLOMGREN
The children’s ministers gather the pupils from the evening schools in the shade of the few trees in the desert. They will soon hold their Global Vote.
to look up to, who it’s exciting to get the chance to meet. When she holds up a copy of The Globe and talks about what is going to happen during the day, they listen attentively. “This magazine is about people who fight for the rights of the child. Does anyone know what we mean by the rights of the child?” asks Jetu.
Jhimku, a girl of ten, cautiously puts her hand up and answers: “I think it’s about getting to play and sing!” Jetu laughs and nods: “I agree! But I also think it’s about having food and water. Having somewhere to live, a family that takes care of you, and the chance to go to school. And one thing that’s really important, is that
we children should get to express our opinions. Adults should listen to us when we talk about important things. Like today, when we’re voting in our Global Vote. And when you vote, it’s important that you think for yourselves. Don’t worry about who your friends are voting for, or what your teachers say. Think for yourselves!”
Barefoot College and the Children’s Parliament In 2001, Barefoot College and the Children’s Parliament received the World’s Children’s Honorary Award for their 30-year effort to make it possible for poor children, especially girls, to go to school and learn about their rights. Read more at www.worldschildrensprize.org
Prime Minister Jetu casts her vote in the Global Vote.
Chairs meeting of Parliament Prime Minister Jetu chairs the meeting. On her left is the first Minister for Home Affairs, Sajana, and then the Energy Minister, Pinki.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: PAUL BLOMGREN
It’s good to vote! “It felt good to vote today. In some way, it feels like we can help children all over the world who have problems, just by being part of the Global Vote,” says Mathara.
Minister for Water votes in the desert The temperature is 40 degrees in the shade when the children from the evening schools hold their Global Vote in the desert. One of the voters is the Minister for Water in the Children’s Parliament, 14-year-old Mathara Devi. “Two months ago, there was a tiny rainfall. Since then not a drop has fallen,” she says.
ere in Rajasthan, one of the biggest problems for us children is the lack of rainfall. Our whole lives are affected by it. Without rain you can easily fall ill, because it’s hard to keep clean and find drinking water. And if it doesn’t rain, our families’ crops don’t grow and neither we nor our livestock get enough to eat. People are forced to sell their animals, and many have to
travel a long way from our poor villages to work on the land lords’ artificially irrigated fields. My whole family was forced to do that last year, and it was terrible. I had no friends and I couldn’t go to school since I was so far from home. But because I go to one of the Barefoot College evening schools, it was no problem for me to start again when I got back. If I had been at a normal school, they
Mathara counting votes for the Global Vote in the Children’s Parliament.
Fabric ring to stop spillages This beautiful ring of fabric is called Indoni. Girls and women wear them on their heads to make carrying water more comfortable and stable. “I made this one myself out of old clothes and pretty fabric. If I have enough fabric I can make five in one day. It’s easy!” says Mathara’s older sister Indra, 18.
We need water
Every afternoon, Mathara walks to the well to fetch water six times. In the morning, her sister Indra does it. The water is used for cooking and making tea… …for washing the dishes…
would never have accepted that. But the worst thing was when my father was beaten by the land lord and some of his men. I’m afraid of them, and I never want to go there again. “At Barefoot College, we know how hard things are during periods of drought, and we try to work together and help each other. For example, the small amount of rain that falls on the roofs of the evening schools is drained into water tanks and can then be used as drinking water, instead of just evaporating in the heat. In villages where we have evening schools, it is getting more and more common for people to make use of as much rain water as possible. As the Minister for Water in the Children’s Parliament, I visit schools every week and check that all the children have enough clean water. If there is a shortage of water in the wells and the rainwater tanks, I report it to the Children’s Parliament. Together with Barefoot College, we then buy clean drinking water so that every student in the villages gets the water he or she needs. But that’s expensive, so we students at the evening schools are always careful not to use too much.”
…for doing laundry… …for brushing teeth… …for drinking…
Mathara’s father became a debt slave “When my family and I worked for a land lord, I had to borrow some money from him for food, for us to survive. Towards the end, when we had worked incredibly hard out in the fields for four months, he said that my debt was so big that he wasn’t going to give me any of the harvest, nor any payment for my work. He said that I would be beaten and that he’d take my daughters if I didn’t leave without causing trouble. I was in despair, because I didn’t have any money to give my wife or my children, so I stayed there
…for bathing and washing…
...and to give the birds in the tree beside the house something nice to drink as well! “They’re wild birds, but they feel like members of the family! My favourites are the parrots, with their fabulous colours.”
and demanded that he paid me. Then I was attacked by ten men, who kicked me and hit me with sticks. Life is difficult for us now. I have land and buffalo, but there is no rain. In the old days we used to have two large harvests every year, now we don’t even get one good harvest. Something serious has happened to
nature and the climate. At Barefoot College, they say that it is being caused by global warming,” says Mathara’s father, Sharwan. Here they are watering one of the family’s buffalo together, at a well that hasn’t yet run dry.
Energy Minister in the bur n The sun is scorching down from a cloudless sky throughout Global Vote day in the desert. “It’s always this sunny and warm!” says 14-year-old Pinki Verma, who is the Energy Minister in the Children’s Parliament.
f course it’s a problem that it never rains and is always this hot, but we have actually learned to use the sun to our advan-
tage. Barefoot College realised that Rajasthan is the perfect place for solar power! Lighting, computers... yes, everything at Barefoot
College is now powered by the sun. We used to use paraffin lamps and candles at the evening schools, but now every school has a lamp that charges up during the day using solar power. It’s great! Now we can manage without oil, paraffin, matches, candles, batteries and electricity, all of which cost lots of money in the long run. Solar pow-
er is also much cleaner than sooty paraffin lamps, and safer than both candles and electricity. Candles are easily blown out by the wind, and that is a problem since the evening schools are often held outdoors. None of our schools have electricity, but even if they did, it would be very unreliable since there are powercuts all the time.
Girls become solar power technicians Many of the technicians who install solar panels and repair solar-powered lamps are young women who have attended one of the evening schools.
Solar panels made by Barefoot College, which harness the light of the sun and make it possible to charge the evening schools’ new lamps.
“I’d like to work with solar power in the future too,” says Pinki. These days, Barefoot College doesn’t only train girls from villages in Rajasthan and other parts of India to be solar power technicians. Many young women also come from small villages in different parts of Africa.
“As Energy Minister, I tell people in the villages where we have schools about all the benefits of solar power. I explain that it’s environmentally friendly and that everyone in the village would benefit from it in the long term,” says Pinki. Solar-powered lamp
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: PAUL BLOMGREN
Solar-powered lamp in one of the 159 evening schools run by Barefoot College in Rajasthan.
ur ning sun What’s more, solar power is much more environmentally friendly than the other options, and the solar-powered lamp gives much better light. And that’s especially good bearing in mind that the children at the evening schools have to learn important things after nightfall. The lamps are perfect then! “As Energy Minister, it’s my task to visit different schools every month and check that the solar-powered lamps are working. If a lamp is broken the school gets a new one, and I take the bro-
Solar power and Gandhi
ken one to be repaired by the Barefoot College technicians. The technicians are often girls who have attended evening school and then trained as solar power technicians. I’d like to do that in the future too!”
The solar-powered lamp is environmentally friendly and cheaper in the long term. It’s also…
…safer and cleaner than paraffin lamps…
…and oil lamps… …and more reliable than the electricity supply here, if it’s working… …more effective than candles…
Since it is subsidised by the government, a solar-powered lamp costs 2800 Indian rupees. That is roughly what a family would spend on paraffin for an oil lamp over the course of a year. So after just one year, you recoup the cost of the solar-powered lamp. Then you can say that you are ‘self-sufficient’ in terms of your need for light. On the bank notes you can see Indian freedom champion, Mahatma Gandhi. Just like Gandhi, Barefoot College believes that as much as possible, all people should be selfsufficient – able to provide for themselves – and in this way not be vulnerable through being dependent on others. Both Gandhi and Barefoot College believe that this is even more important for poor people. Read more about Gandhi at www.worldschildrensprize.org
If every child gets involved, we’ll have peace and harmony in our world “I am the Minister for Children’s Rights, and the newest minister in the Parliament! It feels great, because now I have the power to do good things for us children. My task is to ensure that all children are treated well in our evening schools. Most importantly, I make sure that not a single teacher hits a single child. If I discover corporal punishment in a school, I report it to the Children’s Parliament and the teacher responsible gets sacked immediately. In India it is very common for children to be beaten, both at home and at school. That makes me angry and sad. How can a teacher hit a child who doesn’t understand? For a child to be able to learn, the teacher has to explain clearly and calmly, at the child’s pace! “Now I’m in Year 4 of the evening school in my village, and we often read The Globe magazine. It inspires me when I read it, and it makes me want to be someone who fights for children’s rights when I grow up. It felt so good to vote today, to show my support for people who do great things for us children. If we carry on like this, and if all children in the world can join in with the Global Vote, then in the end we’ll have a world where people live in peace and harmony – a holy place!” Mira Devi, 12, Minister for Children’s Rights, Children’s Parliament
Ministers who v
Global Vote shows children are im The temperature is 40 degrees in the shade when the children from the evening schools hold their Global Vote in the desert. One of the voters is the Minister for Water in the Children’s Parliament, 14-year-old Mathara Devi. “Two months ago, there was a tiny rainfall. Since then not a drop has fallen,” she says. “I am the Minister for Education in the Children’s Parliament. My most important task is to find the children who don’t go to school in the villages where
we have evening schools. I make a list and I take it with me to the next meeting of Parliament, and then we meet with the parents and village leaders and try to solve
“During the day I clean the house, fetch water and fire wood, and cook food. During the harvest, which is happening now, I also work in the fields with my family. When my day’s work is over, I go to the evening school. “Once a month the Children’s Parliament meets, and since I am the Minister for Home Affairs, I’m responsible for making sure that everyone who comes gets food and a place to sleep. As Minister for Home Affairs, I also step in and chair the meeting if the Prime Minister can’t come. You could say that I’m responsible for making sure everything works during meetings of the Children’s Parliament. And the Parliament is important, since it gives us children information, knowledge and confidence. The World’s Children’s Prize and the Global Vote do the same. We learn about the rights of the child, and about people who fight for our rights all over the world. Participating in the Global Vote is important to us in India, since we have so many problems here, such as child labour, which stops children from being able to go to school. The Globe magazine teaches us that this is wrong. Everyone who reads The Globe and joins in the Global Vote is changed by the experience. Now that we know how children should be treated, we have to make sure that all the crimes and violations that children fall victim to now stop happening in the future.” Sajana Devi, 16, Minister for Home Affairs, Children’s Parliament
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: PAUL BLOMGREN
The Globe changes the future
are important the problem. All children must go to school! “Here in Rajasthan, there are lots of girls and boys who don’t go to school, but who are forced to work instead. Especially those of us who are poor and belong to the ’untouchable’ caste, also known as Dalits. And even if we manage to get into a normal school, we often face discrimination. Other children don’t want to sit beside
us and that sort of thing. Once there was even a teacher in one of our evening schools who refused to teach two Dalit girls. As Minister for Education, it’s my job to go out and tackle situations like that. I told the teacher, and all the parents, that we’d close the school immediately if these two girls didn’t get exactly the same education as all the other children in the village. After that the girls were welcomed, so now the school belongs to all the children in the village!
And that’s how things should be. All children are equally important and have the right to a good life - even those of us who are poor. “And that’s exactly what the World’s Children’s Prize and the Global Vote is all about. When we vote, we can show our support for those who fight for good lives for ALL children. We highlight everything the candidates do, and at the same time we show that children are important. We also show that we know how badly children
are treated all over the world, and that that is something we refuse to accept or forget about!” Ashok, 15, Minister for Education, Children’s Parliament
Young people in India vote Jury shines like the moon “When I read The Globe I learned that there are many children who are treated badly, but that the nominees for the World’s Children’s Prize fight for an end to all violations of children’s rights. They have shown many children a new path in life. The World’s Children’s Prize makes many of the children in the world aware of their rights, so that they can fight for them. The World’s Children’s Prize Jury is the moon that shines over the whole earth, spreading the light of knowledge.” Apoorva Bansal, 13, Gandhinagar Public School, Moradabad
Shows children future dreams “Experiencing the Global Vote was fantastic. We are proud of being part of it. In this way, we contribute not only to a better future for vulnerable children, but also to the development of our country. The World’s Children’s Prize saves children from the atrocities of the world, shows them beautiful dreams of a future world, and does everything possible to help make those dreams a reality.” Sakshi Singh, 14, Gandhinagar Public School, Moradabad
Never make inequality between children “I like how the World’s Children’s Prize helps many suffering children to a new and happy life. While reading the magazine I was very sad about the difficult life situations of many children. Then and there I decided that I will try to give my full support to all the suffering voices of the children. We all must stand together for all the rights and needs of all children and we should never cause any kind of inequality between children. The World’s Children’s Prize gives us the knowledge to respect all the rights of all children .” Salomi Rosy Ekka, 13, Guru Nanak Public School, Rourkela, Orissa
Adults must respect children’s thoughts “The World’s Children’s Prize has done a great job by thinking on what is best for the child. They really understand that every child has the right to express her opinion and to be respected. I’m very happy that our school is one of the Global Friend schools throughout the world and that it believes in children’s rights. Learning about the plights of the children in the magazine has really filled us with empathy. Adults must learn about children’s rights and respect the thoughts of children.” Jasmin Surja, 14, Guru Nanak Public School, Rourkela, Orissa
Made me a global citizen “Because of the World’s Children’s Prize we have come to know about the rights of the child. Every child in our country should be educated and go to school every day. There should not be any separation of children and no caste system discrimination. By reading the prize magazine I got many ideas about children’s rights and I presented my views in front of everyone. It was a golden opportunity for me to become a global citizen. The Global Vote is a very good way to see inside the mind of a student. I hope that the Global Vote will help children get all their rights and help India to become the Country of Knowledge.” Marvin John, 13, Aditya Birla Public School, Rawan, Raipur
Experience of a lifetime “Child labour is a social crime that deprives the child of his childhood. The World’s Children’s Prize and its Global Vote was a wonderful experience for me. I really felt privileged to be part of such an organization that makes many efforts to achieve equal rights for all children of the world. This was a lifetime experience for me, that makes me proud of myself. Moreover the World’s Children’s Prize has inspired me to start my struggle against such social evils as child labour.” Sidhant Sharma, Darbari Lal Model School, Pitampura, Delhi
Got to know rights of the child “Through the World’s Children’s Prize I came to know about the rights of children. The voting made me thankful for whatever I have in life. The candidates taught me the values of courage and determination. Reading the prize magazine changed my way of thinking towards the downtrodden children of the world. Preparing for the Global Vote Day was a very good experience. It was a special day for me.” Ritika Das Vaishanav, 12, Aditya Birla Public School, Rawan, Raipur
Girls worst off “I personally don’t feel that there is any right which I am deprived of, but in India a girl child is the worst victim. She is often neglected and is discriminated against because of the preference for a boy child. Through the World’s Children’s Prize we have the opportunity to learn about and demand respect for our rights. This is a platform from which we can help other children learn about and understand the essential child rights in a fun way.” Aanchal, 14, Darbari Lal Model School, Pitampura, Delhi
Humanity still exists “Child trafficking and labour in India is still playing out the unending saga of death and misery for the young ones… It is indeed a ‘pralaya’ (catastrophe) on earth, especially for girls. On seeing the initiative taken up by the World’s Children’s Prize and learning about the fighters against the world’s social stigma I feel proud to cast my vote and do my bit to honour them. They make us feel that the world is not that bad to live in….. humanity still exists.” Sanna Chawia, 16, BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana
With 785 classes and 39,483 students, City Montessori School in Lucknow, India, is the world’s biggest school. Every year, around half of the students participate in the Global Vote.
World’s biggest school votes We can make a difference
Government should act like prize candidates “The World’s Children’s Prize Day is important because children are important. Through it we get to know about the people who fight for children. There are many poor children in India who do not go to school. I believe that the government should act like the World’s Children’s Prize candidates and help the children to get educated. This is an important day because people under 18 years old get a chance to vote. At the same time we learn things that are important for children today and about our rights.” Sanskar Maheshwari, 14, City Montessori School, Lucknow
“The Global Vote Day in our school made me feel like a global citizen. When I read about the World’s Children’s Prize, I realized that global change can start through the efforts of one person: possibly me. The World’s Children’s Prize is my new role model. Now I feel a need to do something, and I am glad that I am aware. If millions like us are informed, I have faith in all of us together being able to make a difference.” Mahak Mehrotra, 15, City Montessori School, Lucknow
Find out each other’s opinions Proud of Global in The Globe Vote in our country “I voted in the Global Vote for the first time, and it felt fantas-
“The World’s Children’s Prize proves that there are still such people on this earth who think about the welfare of children. It tells us that though we are teens we have power. It gives us hope that every child will have his or her due, and not be exploited further. It really makes me proud that we have the Global Vote in our country, for those who are doing something substantial for the children of the world.” Shivangi Sharma, 16, City Montessori School, Lucknow
tic, I really believe that the World’s Children’s Prize can help us to make our voices heard. We learn how children live around the world and about our rights. But the most important thing is that through The Globe, children from all over the world find out each other’s opinions on important issues, and when we learn from each other, we develop so much.” Indresh Singh, 15, City Montessori School, Lucknow
Children in Nigeria vote Arrest adults who abuse our rights “I love reading about the good works of the World’s Children’s Prize. I and my school friends read The Globe every day as part of our studies. All pupils in our school are members of the WCPRC Club. My country is not serious with our education, poor children cannot afford school fees. We girls in particular sell gari, ground nuts and pure water on the streets when we are supposed to be in school, in order to get money to pay our school fees. If I become president of Nigeria I will arrest all adults that abuse our rights and steal our money. I will put them in prison for failing us. I will also make a law that will give free education to us and free treatment in hospital.” Bright Abubakar, 12, Peculiar Children Academy, Ibillo-Edu, Nigeria
World’s Children’s Prize should be compulsory “I didn’t know what children’s rights were until my teacher brought the World’s Children’s Prize magazines to our school for the Global Vote. I love The Globe magazine. It has taught me so much about children’s rights and about how these rights are being abused. If I become president of Nigeria I will declare education free for all children. I will be feeding them in school and I will tell all ministries of education in Nigeria that it should be compulsory to participate in the World’s Children’s Prize. Here in Edu state child rights are not respected, despite the fact that the state has passed a child rights law. Our rights are always abused and we are not cared for by our leaders. But our parents love us and they do their best to help us.” Jubril Abubakar, 14, Peculiar Children Academy, Ibillo-Edu, Nigeria
Children’s voice for democracy “The World’s Children’s Prize is a fantastic idea, that encourages the rights of the child to spread across the world. I really like reading The Globe. When I’m reading it, I don’t feel hungry and I don’t need to sleep. And I have learned to vote, so I will know exactly how to vote for the parliament and the president when I grow up. I feel moved by the knowledge that children all over the world fight for the rights of the child and participate in the World’s Children’s Prize programme, which is the children’s voice for democracy. This programme really is well thought out, and it supports the rights of the child. When we had read The Globe we got together to appoint an election commission and to prepare everything we needed for the Vote. We need severe punishment to prevent violations of the rights of the child. If I were president I would give all children free medical care and I would put an end to tent schools and build and equip proper schools.” António José Kress de Carvalho, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Children in GuineaBissau vote World’s most successful initiative “The World’s Children’s Prize is the most successful initiative in the world. It makes me so happy to read the magazine and about the candidates’ work. The prize has taught me that children have the right to a life without abuse, and the right to go to school. Voting and deciding who should get the prize is about highlighting our rights and getting adults to respect them. When I grow up I’m going to fight for the rights of the child in my country, so that I can be a candidate for the prize. Corporal punishment is common here, even in schools. I think the government should punish the adults who violate the rights of the child. And the minister must pay teachers’ wages so they don’t go on strike. If I were the president of GuineaBissau, I’d get the soldiers to plough the land instead of living in barracks and making war. I’d transform their barracks into homes for orphaned children, daycare centres and playgrounds.” Akmoda Cá, 13, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Doris does two global votes Bench for thinking of others
It was on this bench that Doris, Phyllis Godwyll, 16, and Gertrud Guamah, 16, decided to start up their own evening school for their friends of the same age. “They can’t go to school because they have to earn money and look after their children,” explains Phyllis. “Life is even harder for them, so we have to help them,” says Gertrud.
Doris Ekua Hansen in Diabene in Ghana has two Global Votes to think about. There’s the one in ordinary school that she votes in and helps to organise. Then there’s the one at the evening school for girls who work at the quarry during the day, which Doris started together with two friends. But Doris can’t vote in the evening school vote. You can only vote once in the Global Vote. And the streak of paint on her forehead is proof that Doris has already cast her vote…
hands. They’re going to start a school! Doris, Phyllis and Gertrud love going to school, but they know that there are lots of girls in the village who can’t go to school any more. Many
of them have to drop out of school because they’ve had children, despite the fact that they’re barely 15 years old themselves. “We have to help them,” says Doris. “They will never
To the quarry
The friends visit the quarry outside the village. This is where a lot of the young mums work all day long. First they carry boulders from the quarry up a narrow path. Then they use a small hammer to crush the boulders to make gravel. The mums earn roughly 0.15 US dollars an
TEXT: JOHANNA HALLIN pHOTOs: TOR A MÅRTENs
oris and her two best friends are sitting on a bench behind the school. They’re reading about former prize laureates Iqbal, Nkosi and Dunga Mothers in the magazine The Globe. “Look at what they’ve achieved for children’s rights, despite their lives being so difficult,” says Doris. “We can too!” The three friends shake
have a good life without an education.”
World’s Children’s Prize in every subject… … even woodwork! In the workshop, Christian and Michael are building ballot boxes.
Water for school fees
“I have to sell water on the streets so that I can pay my school fees and buy books,” says Doris.
hour, which is barely enough to cover food, clothes and medicine. And definitely not enough to pay school fees. Doris is sad when she sees the little children’s red, teary eyes. Every day, the young
Friends at boarding school
Doris and Phyllis planting in the school garden. Doris’s friends at the school are her family.
mums and their babies breathe in the dangerous dust from the stones, which gradually destroys their lungs. It makes Doris even more determined to do something. “We’re going to start a school for you. It will be free. You want to come, don’t
you?” Yes, the girls want to come. But they’re too tired to shout for joy. To the mayor
Then Doris and her friends go to see the village mayor, who is called queen mother. They stand nervously outside the
palace, as her pink house is called. “Many adults don’t think it’s important for girls to go to school, but it’s our right. That’s why we want to start an evening school for our friends. Can you help us?” asks Doris. Queen mother says yes! And the very next day, the village public address system announces: “All teenage mothers are welcome to the palace for a new, free evening school!” The evening school opens every evening at sunset. By the light of a single bulb, Doris and her friends try to teach the pupils to read, write and count. To help, they use old copies of The Globe and other magazines, given to them by a helpful teacher. Worried about school
Doris and her best friends
Voting booths for secrecy
The global vote is a democratic one. Everyone has a chance to vote without anyone knowing who you voted for. This is where the voting booths are made that will protect the secrecy of the ballot for the pupils at Diabene.
Welcome to Global Vote!
“Today we’re going to vote and honour some of the people around the world who do the most for us children,” says Doris to her friends at Diabene school.
The streak on her forehead means that it is impossible for Doris, or anyone else, to vote twice.
work hard in the school they go to and get good grades. But there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to finish school. Every term they are short of money for the school fees, and the head teacher has a serious talk with each of them.
“I’m always afraid that I won’t be able to come back to school,” says Doris. “It’s my worst nightmare.” “I’m only doing what I hope someone else would do for me. I always try to give the girls strength and courage to
Doris teaching the young mums at the evening school that she started with her friends.
Vote in peace
When adults vote in Ghana, the police make sure that everyone gets to cast their vote in peace. The Global Vote in Diabene is monitored by the school’s cadets. Ghana’s air force has adopted the school and supports selected boys and girls by providing school uniforms and an education. Clement and Ibrahim, 16, have organised queues and are monitoring proceedings with wooden guns. No intervention required today! Doris puts a mark on the pupils at the evening school’s Global Vote, which has all the elements of a democratic election.
Learn about children’s rights in The Globe
“You have the right to an education, it says so here in The Globe, which teaches us about children’s rights. Come to our evening school and we will teach you so that you can start school again,” says Doris to her friends at the quarry.
come to evening school, because I hope that someone will see me and help me if I need it.” “We children have the right to education. Without education you are nobody. Education is the key to success. When you have education you can enter even into the parliament, and you can talk to the president. I really
Wants to be an eye doctor “I work in the quarry every day. But children shouldn’t work. If I had my way, I would go to school and become an eye doctor. The quarry should be for adults only. The splinters of stone are sharp like knives. No child should have to be here.” Kwame Gyamfi, 11
want to be a nurse in the future and help others.” Orphan
Doris is an orphan. Doris’s mum died when she was just six months old, and her dad died soon after. Her older sister had promised to look after her, but she didn’t have enough money to let Doris go to school. She had to work as a street vendor instead. Every
day she walked alone along the motorway, carrying 60 water bags in a tub on her head. She was tired from the heat and her heavy load, but still she didn’t want to go home. Her sister’s husband was at home. Drunk and unpleasant. One evening, when Doris was 14, the son of the house tried to rip her clothes off in a dark corner of the house. She
Learn about myself “I have the right to an education! We read The Globe at evening school and I learn about our rights, about the world and about myself. My daughter Christabel is six months old and we spend the whole day at the quarry. But I have no choice. Christabel is often ill, because it’s dangerous to breathe in the dust from the stones. So I pay the doctor and buy clothes and food with the money. But when I go to evening school with my friends, then I’m always happy. Even if I’m tired and hungry. I want to learn to read and write. I want to have my rightful education.” Mary Mensah, 16, Ghana
Global Vote dance
There are celebrations to mark the end of the Global Vote at Diabene school, with an intense dance to the beat of drums.
screamed and protested. But the boy’s father was angry with Doris. “You’re teasing my son. It’s all your fault!”, he yelled as he dragged her into the kitchen and beat her with a saucepan. Doris came to on the kitchen floor in the middle of the night. She got up, dizzy from the beating. Then she ran away.
Some relatives helped Doris to get into a boarding school for orphans, which is where she is now living. Her sister sends money sometimes, but Doris still has to sell water and bread by the roadside every weekend and holiday to be able to pay her school fees. Life is tough, but Doris is still happier than ever. She has her friends, and together they welcome the village’s teenage mums to their own school every evening.
Four World’s Children’s Prize reporters work during the Global Vote. But the school doesn’t have a proper radio channel, so they use microphones and a megaphone. “What do you think about the vote?” asks reporter Mercy. “It’s important that all of us vote. Personally I think that the most important issue is children who have lost their parents,” replies Nana in the microphone.
Evening school makes me happy “It takes 45 minutes to walk to the quarry. I go there every morning with my son, Ernest, on my back. First we carry boulders up from the quarry, then we crush them to make gravel. It’s heavy, but I have to work to buy food and clothes for my baby. I get 3.5 Cedis (2.4 US dollars) for four wheelbarrows of gravel. It takes two days to finish. I want to go to school, but my parents threw me out when I got pregnant. My dream is to be able to go to a lovely school and become an accountant. That’s why I was so happy when the evening school opened in our village. It’s a step closer to my dream.” Regina Ocran, 16 , Ghana
The Fourth Estate The media is sometimes called “the Fourth Estate”. The first is the national government, second is the local government and third are lobby groups. The media – newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, internet – should be a watchdog and guard the public interest. Through the media, adults learn about the actions of politicians, so that they can make informed decisions in the next election.
Doris’s wardrobe Housedress
All girls wear this after lessons at the boarding school.
“The everyday school uniform is blue, but this one has the school’s emblem on it and we wear it for special occasions.”
TEXT: JOHANNA HALLIN PHOTOS: TOR A MÅRTENS
Doris Ekua Hansen, 16 PROUD OF: The evening school I started with my friends Phyllis and Gertrude. SAD THAT: I might have to drop out of school. FAVOURITE MUSIC: Gospel. WANTS TO BE: A nurse. NICKNAME: Osofo Mame, parson’s wife, because I always try to be positive about the future. LOOKS UP TO: Dunga Mothers in Kenya, who take care of orphans, despite the fact that they themselves are extremely poor.
Doris doesn’t have any special party clothes. She’s seen her dream clothes in the little clothes shop along the gravel road to school: a pale pink blouse, pink shoes and a matching bag.
Doris’s favourite sport is running.
What is your Ghana name? In Ghana, all children are named after the day they are born. Doris is also called Ekua, because she was born on a Wednesday. What’s your name? Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Girl adwoa abena ekua yaa afia ama akosua
Boy kwadwo kwabena kwuku yaw kofi kwame kwasi
The leatherbound Bible was a gift from Doris’s sister.
“On Saturdays we wear a white top and black skirt. If it’s cold out then I put on my long-sleeved sweater as well.”
Ghana’s traditional dress is made from kente cloth. It is only worn on ceremonial occasions, such as when Benedicta, 17, is to perform on Global Vote Day!
Doris’s favourite things Doris’s favourite things are her maths book and mini calculator. She always keeps them at the head of her bed. Books are also among her favourite things.
Doris’s favourite snacks Plantain fruit…
Vital soya milk … which is turned into plantain chips!
The optician soon confirms Doris’s fear that she has poor eyesight and he writes down which lenses she needs on the prescription below. “But how am I going to afford to pay for glasses?” wonders Doris.
See clearly with the Global Vote Thank you The Globe!
“The World’s Children’s Prize has taught us that all children have the right to good medicine and healthcare. I think that’s important! Thank you The Globe!” Benedicte Willberfor, 12
It’s Global Vote Day today at Ketan Anglican School in western Ghana. Four schools in the area have come together to both cast their votes and get their eyesight checked! An optician from the capital Accra is going to give all the pupils a free eye test. Many of them have eye problems. Some have poor eyesight and need glasses, but even more have some kind of eye infection. Those who work in the quarries are particularly at risk, because the dust from the stones gets
stuck in their eyes and causes irritation. The optician writes out prescriptions. Most of the pupils will have to save for a long time if they are to have the money to buy the glasses they need. Some will never be able to afford them. Doris needs glasses
“Oh no, not another thing!” thinks Doris as she sits in the optician’s chair with the strange test glasses on her nose. She only came to get an eye test. The optician has just
explained that she is short sighted and that she has trouble focusing on objects that are far off. It is no surprise, because her eyes often water and she has difficulty seeing the writing on the blackboard when she sits at the back of the classroom. But she’s still upset by the news. “I hardly have enough money for my school fees, how am I going to afford glasses?”
My dream glasses!
The optician has frames with him for the pupils to try out. Everyone finds their favourite frames.
Doris tries two different pairs! And something to keep her glasses in.
Philip’s Global Vote Day
Philip Dagadu, 15 HAPPY: When I listen to music, preferably Celine Dion. ANGRY: When someone is mean to me. LOOKS UP TO: Nkosi Johnson. WANTS TO BE: An architect. DREAM: To look after all orphans and street children.
Philip is homeless. His stepmother has thrown him out and now he sleeps on a bench in a bar in the village. He has a t-shirt for a pillow, and gets bitten by mosquitoes during the night. The worst time is the rainy period. Then the rain comes in and Philip has to sit underneath a table until it stops. “My mum’s not around anymore and dad left me with my stepmother. The only thing she does is give me a few coins to pay for my school fees. It’s not enough, so sometimes I can’t go to school at all. I panic every time I see my stepmother, she’s so mean.” But Philip has decided to fight. He and his school friends have read The Globe and he knows that he has a right to an education.
05.15 Day starts with washing
Philip washes himself, his clothes and his shoes. He wants to be clean and smart for school. It’s important because he wants to look like a future architect, not a boy who sleeps on a bench.
05.00 White teeth
Philip gets up and brushes his teeth in the bar.
06.30 Long journey to school Philip has to walk and take the bus to get to school, from the coast to the village of Diabene. He often walks with a friend. But he doesn’t like walking alone, it makes him feel down.
13.30 My lunch
Philip doesn’t eat any breakfast and some days he can’t afford to buy lunch. He feels weak and gets in a bad mood. But today he can buy a chocolate drink in a bag, and bread.
TEXT: JOHANNA HALLIN PHOTOS: TOR A MÅRTENS
06.00 Box iron
Philip puts a few hot coals in the iron and irons his school uniform.
09.25 Finally, the Global Vote!
Philip has been standing in a queue for a long time, but now it’s finally his turn to vote in the Global Vote.
14.00 School is important
Philip works very hard at school because he wants a better future.
15.30 More water!
Philip fetches water that is used in the bar. The neighbour owns the tap and Philip pays per bucket.
17.00 Studies in a corner
In the evening, the bar is full of adults who smoke, drink and maybe watch football. Then Philip takes his school books to a corner of the neighbour’s plot to do his homework. He sits there until the bar closes.
22.30 Good night!
Philip lies down on his bench in the bar. He can hear the sea, but he doesn’t like the sound. It reminds him of the cold, sea winds that often keep him awake.
14.30 Run by the sea
Philip loves running. He feels a bit livelier on the days that he has eaten lunch, so he goes for a jog by the sea. He doesn’t have any running shoes, he just binds his feet to give them support.
The day’s gold harvest When Joseph drops the dangerous mercury in the bucket, the grains of gold are left behind. Today he manages to collect three grams of gold.
School over gold Joseph swirls the pan of sand round and round. Sweat is running down his forehead and stinging his eyes. The water in the little pond contains the dangerous metal mercury, which stops the sores on his feet from healing. He is panning for gold to pay for his school fees.
oseph doesn’t dream of sparkling necklaces, rings or golden crowns made of the gold he finds. “I sell the gold every afternoon. I just want the money so I can pay my school fees.” Joseph works every weekend and during the school holidays, panning for gold.
But it’s an illegal little gold mine. Only a few huge mines in central Ghana have permits from the government. Here on the coast people mine for gold without permits. The police often turn a blind eye, but not always. Joseph shovels sand and swirls the pan, looking for
gold. Tiny chips of gold glitter in the dark sand. He adds the liquid mercury and continues panning. The metal attracts the gold chips. Then he strains off the mercury through an old pair of shorts. The mercury drips into the bucket. When he opens the cloth, the grains of gold are left behind. He collects them in a little plastic bag. By sunset, he has three grams of gold to sell. Dad killed in a fight
Joseph lives with his older brother, who is unemployed. Joseph is almost constantly thinking about school fees.
He worries that the head teacher will send him home because he’s behind with the payments. But it wasn’t always like this. When Joseph was little he and his family lived on a plantation. His dad harvested palm tree fruit, which was then pressed to make palm oil. But Joseph’s dad became ill and they were thrown out of the plantation. Shortly after that his dad got into a fight and was knocked unconscious with a stone. The family had a TV and a fridge, but were forced to sell everything to get their dad to hospital. But he died anyway.
Joseph’s school friends on children’s rights Right to healthcare
Right to parents
“I had just been vaccinated when I felt a shooting pain in my eye and I fainted. Now I can’t see anything out of my right eye. My parents used the last of our money to pay the doctor, but it wasn’t enough for an operation. Now it’s too late. I will never see out of that eye again. I want all the children in the world to have the right to healthcare!” Anita Cudjoe, 16
“My parents abandoned me when I was a week old. I’ve never met them. I’m grateful that the World’s Children’s Prize teaches us about our rights. Now I know that all children have the right to be looked after and to their parents, but it makes me sad when I think about how my parents let me down.” Matilda Dadzi, 16
School should be free
Joseph cast his vote in the Global Vote at Mpohor senior high school. There is a long queue to vote. “Voting gives us important knowledge. When we are adults we will be voting to elect Ghana’s president,” says Joseph. “If I became president I would fight for children’s rights. I would build schools for all children who have lost their parents.”
“I sell drinking water after school to earn the money to pay my school fees. I think that all children should be able to go to school without having to pay!” Lucy Amoah, 17
Joseph has been panning for gold ever since. He saves the money together with the expensive mercury in a plastic bag under his bed. Every other Monday he knocks on the
head teacher’s door to pay a little bit more of his school fees. “I love English, science, maths and agricultural engineering. And I like playing football with my friends at break. I’m a forward and I score a lot of goals. School is my favourite place. “My teacher made me a monitor, so I’m in charge of the keys to the stock cupboard and toilets. It’s good training, because I want to be a bank manager. You have to be organised and be able to plan in that job. And you have to be nice to the customers. I would give all parents loans so that they could send their children to school.”
School oranges There is an orange grove in the school yard, where the pupils can pick and eat as many oranges as they like.
Warning! Mercury! Mercury is a liquid heavy metal that Joseph uses to separate gold from the sand. Mercury is dangerous for people and the environment. It is particularly dangerous when combined with water, because it can transform into the toxic substance methyl mercury. A UN report states that mercury can damage the nervous system and cause learning difficulties.
TEXT: JOHANNA HALLIN PHOTOS: TOR A MÅRTENS
“I was twelve years old, and I felt completely empty inside, as empty as our house. “We were always doing fun and exciting things when my dad was around. We played football and games. He was a happy and clever person. Life is hard now, without him.”
Formerly the Gold Coast Ghana used to be a British colony and back then it was known as the Gold Coast, because there is a lot of gold here. Gold is still a very important commodity, which Ghana sells to other countries.
Peace house Joseph and his brother have inherited their dad’s house. It's called ‘Peace House’, because it’s situated in a sheltered glade.
Joseph Quanicoe, 16 HAPPY: When I’m running or playing
football. SAD: when I hear that someone’s
dad has died. ANGRY: When my big brother hits
me. FAVOURITE FOOD: Rice with nkotomire
sauce. LOVES: Music, I want to be a gospel
singer. HATES: People who take advantage of children. WANTS TO BE: Bank manager.
Long queue to vote.
Fleeing the Burmese military.
Photo: Free Burma r angers
From voting queue to flight Children in village schools in Burma, which is a dicta torship, organise their own democratic elections. The English version of The Globe is smuggled into Burma, with translations into Karen and Burmese. The children read excitedly about their rights. But not long after they had helped to elect the Decade Child Rights Heroes in their Global Vote, the warning came: the Burmese military were on their way! Every body grabbed whatever they could carry and fled into the forest. But 6year old student Naw Paw had been visiting her grandfa ther, and she didn’t get away. She and her little brother were shot by the soldiers.
The children read a booklet with all the text from The Globe translated into Karen, while looking at the pictures in the English version of the magazine.
56-57.Burma Pakistan_eng_fra.indd 56
Making the voting booth for the children’s democratic Global Vote in a village school in Burma.
Want to make important child rights decisions “The World’s Children’s Prize has taught us that many children under 18 are oppressed just like us, and have other difficulties in their lives. I have been empowered by learning lots about the rights of the child. Everyone should respect them and should be punished if they violate them. The Globe is great because it has taught me about other children and it makes it possible for me to teach younger children about their rights. If I were king or prime minister, the rights of the child would be my number one priority. I want to be part of discussions and decision-making on the rights of the child. We are going to work to protect those rights and raise awareness of them. Education is the most important thing for us children.” Naw Eh Blute Paw, 16
People need to know “Not many people here know about the rights of the child. The most important child rights issues for me are child soldiers, forced labour and trafficking. Some people violate the rights of the child because they don’t know anything about them. We have to make sure people know that our rights exist. It makes me sad that children’s rights are violated so often in my country. I promise to do what I can to make things better. I want to fight for the children who are oppressed. The World’s Children’s Prize has taught me a lot about the rights of the child. If I become a leader in the future, I will help children who have difficult lives. The Globe magazine is great because it teaches lots of people about the rights of the child, and I have learned what people do to protect children’s rights in different countries.” Saw Htoo Htoo Lay, 12
Children in the Thar Desert, Pakistan Pretending to be candidates
Proud of taking part “If I were king or prime minister or a politician, I would work for the rights of the child. I would make decisions and invest money in helping children. Oppression and forced labour are the most important child rights issues here. Many people live their whole lives without knowing that the rights of the child exist. We have to work to raise awareness of them. Our rights are important for us children, and I like the World’s Children’s Prize and how it supports children. I am proud of being part of the World’s Children’s Prize, and the Global Vote Day is an unforgettable experience for many of us. It is wonderful that so many people read The Globe and learn more about the rights of the child.” Naw Hser Bwet Wah, 12
“When we work with the World’s Children’s Prize, we imagine that we are the candidates. It’s really exciting. We have to explain the good things each candidate has done. We gain such good heroes and role models.” Ventee Baj, 13, Apna School, Ragho Mengwar
Teaching parents “Parents don’t know much about the rights of the child. We have to teach them. We like voting, but first we must have knowledge, so we learn about the candidates. It’s important to think for yourself. The rights of the child apply to everyone under 18. It is our right to be allowed to go to school. Girls have the right to go to school too. Rich and poor people have the same rights.” Ashiq and Sakki, Apna School, Mubeen Hajam
Decide for ourselves “The World’s Children’s Prize has taught us how an election works. Now our elections for our school council are secret too. We can all decide for ourselves. The prize is good because it teaches us about the rights of the child. We have a right to be listened to, and to be included in decision-making.” Nid Lal, 15, Apna School, Bhambo Chandio
Have to persuade parents Queue for the ballot box
The Globe taught me the rights of the child
Equal rights “The World’s Children’s Prize teaches us about our rights. We know that no-one is allowed to treat children from other ethnic groups badly. Everyone has equal rights. Both boys and girls have a right to an education.” Marvi and Shafi Muhammad, Apna School, Mubeen Hajam 57
TEXT & PHOTOS: BRIT T-MARIE KL ANG
“The World’s Children’s Prize is good for all children. Before, I didn’t know what the rights of the child were. Now that I know all about them, I want to teach adults about them so that they respect our rights. I learned about the rights of the child through The Globe magazine. It is good for everyone, and teaches many people about children’s rights. We had meetings to decide who should do what on Global Vote Day, and we made it happen together. Adults here often force children to do work that is not suitable for children. When I grow up I will give children the right to decide for themselves.” Saw Wee Htoo, 17
“We learn about all the candidates. You have to know about what you’re voting for. It is so good to learn that there are rules telling you what rights children have. We do a lot of work to persuade the parents in the village that all children should be allowed to go to school. It’s not easy. Many parents themselves did not go to school, and do not know that children have a right to an education. Sometimes we have to visit the same family again and again.” Haresh Kumar, Apna School, Dobar
PHOTO DESERT: STEVE BER ARD
56-57.Burma Pakistan_eng_fra.indd 57
Child soldiers and refugee child re The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the worst wars in the history of the world. The fighting has been going on almost constantly since 1998 and at least 5.4 million people have died. Tens of thousands of children have been forced to become soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of children have had to flee their homes. Many of these children take part in the Global Vote. Zawadi, Eric and Mateso read The Globe with Pacifique Cisagara from children’s rights organisation APEC.
The child soldiers and Greenland “I like reading about children in The Globe. Even though we’ve never met, it feels like we’re friends in real life,” says Mateso, 15. He, Eric and Zawadi are former child soldiers. Sometimes they fought against each other. But now they’re friends. They often read The Globe and today they are learning about how climate change is affecting children in Greenland.
ateso has been reading The Globe since he was rescued by the organisation APEC and ended up at a centre for child soldiers a couple of years ago. “I’ve missed out on school because I was kidnapped and forced to be a soldier when I was little. I’m 15, but I “The Globe gives children a chance to talk about their lives and their thoughts about other children and that's extremely important,” says Mateso, 15.
can’t read. The social workers at the centre read The Globe for us and teach us about our rights. The magazine taught me that it’s wrong to use children as soldiers. It made me angry, because I realised that the adults had used me.” His friends Eric and Zawadi nod. “I like The Globe too. It tells me what life is like for children in different countries around the world and about how I can demand to be
treated by adults. The magazine gives you tips. A lot of children here in DR Congo are forced to become soldiers. It’s a terrible life,” says Zawadi, 16. Buried alive
“I was just nine years old and terrified during my first attack. I started crying, threw my machine gun on the ground and fled back to the
base. The soldiers were furious, they dug a deep hole in the ground and threw me in with two dead people. Then they laid stones over the hole and put earth on top. I hate the soldiers who beat me and forced me to take drugs and do terrible things,” says Eric, 14. “The Globe tells us that adults should behave in exactly the opposite way. They should be taking care of children and protecting us from things like this that can damage us. Not doing the awful things that they did to us. Now I can’t wait to take part in the Global Vote. When I vote it feels like I am helping to put a stop to adults taking advantage of children,” says Mateso.
Long-distance Globe friends
The friends in DR Congo feel that they have friends in Greenland ... … even though they’ve never met! You can read the articles about climate change and children in Greenland at www.worldschildrensprize.org
d ren take part in the Global Vote Refugee children vote The war in DR Congo killed Esther’s entire family and the soldiers treated her extremely badly. Today she is taking part in the Global Vote.
Adults should read The Globe! “
that what The Globe teaches us is respected by our government and all other adults. Because adults don’t look after children here, it’s the opposite. We don’t get any respect. That’s why it’s so important for adults in Congo to start reading The Globe as well. Then they would learn that it’s actually their duty to look after both their own children and their neighbours’ children.” Bienvenue, 15, DR Congo
to eat. I was often treated badly.” Wants to be visited
“But there were also adults in Bunia who brought all the children together who didn’t go to school, and told us about children’s rights. They read The Globe to us. I realised that no child should have to go through what I went through. It’s against our rights. “The Globe makes me happy because it teaches us about how us children should be treated and how to demand our rights. We learn about adults who help children who are having a hard time. That makes me happy. I’ve taken part in the vote a couple of times. I like supporting the idea that children should be taken care of. My life is difficult because my whole family is dead. My dream is for the candidates I’ve voted for in the Global Vote to come and visit one day and help me, because I feel lonely.” Esther, 16, DR Congo
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: ANDRE AS LÖNN
s child soldiers were abused all the time and forced to do appalling things. I was rescued after a couple of years in the war, but I’m here as an unaccompanied refugee because I’ve no idea where my family is. I work at a cassava mill to survive, but my dream is to be able to go to school again. Me and the other unaccompanied refugee children get a bit of help from the organisation ADECOR. We read The Globe together so that we can learn about our rights. And we’re taking part in the Global Vote. I love voting in the Global Vote! It’s really the only time that children in DR Congo get the chance to be heard when it comes to important things. We have to fight to make sure
“was nine when we were woken by machine gun fire. Five armed soldiers came into our yard. Mum, dad and five of my brothers managed to escape. But me and my little brother got left behind. The soldiers beat me and forced me down on the ground. Then they raped me. When one was finished, the next one started. My little brother was hysterical. He screamed and cried and ran round and round. He was only five. The soldiers left me unconscious on the ground. It was my brother who woke me. He shook me and cried out. The whole village was on fire. “When the people came back to the village, they said that my family had been killed while trying to escape. A kind neighbour helped me and my brother with food. But my little brother got worse and worse. He wasn’t well and he was very unhappy, but noone could help him. He died a few years later. Me and another girl left the village to travel to safer areas. We walked for three weeks. We slept in the villages along the road and were always afraid. In a town called Bunia, I started cleaning and washing up and doing the laundry for people so I would have somewhere to live and something
“The Globe is a toolbox for fixing the w
Mpho and Sello’s names have been ticked on the voting register, and they are given ballot papers.
Sello puts a cross against his chosen candidate in the polling booth.
Sello Molete has read The Globe for several years. He really likes the magazine, and participating in the Global Vote. Sello, who goes to Tsunyane Primary School in Bojanala, South Africa, is in a wheelchair, and gets help from his friend Mpho Malatsi to get around the polling station.
PHOTO: LUCKY LETSHWENE
“The Globe magazine is like a tool box for a mechanic to fix cars or my wheelchair. When I read The Globe magazine I get inspiration to fix the world. There are so many problems in the world. I compare my own life with the lives of other children. I now call them my friends because the Globe teaches us about friendship. I feel that I need to learn more and do more. I want to keep all Globe magazines in my memory box so that I can use them to protect my rights. Then I can talk about rights. It is important to speak up about rights because if you keep quiet, nobody will know that you are suffering.” Sello Molete, 14
Friends Senobe Kgomotsi and Mpho Mothupe are helping organise their Global Vote Day.
Sello places his vote in the ballot box.
Red paint on his thumbnail means Sello can’t vote twice.
On the way to the voting booth
“All children and adults should be Mpho Mothupe and Senobe Kgomotsi are friends. They were involved in preparing for the Global Vote Day at Tsunyane School. “Every child should be given their own copy of The Globe. If all children could read, then everyone would respect each other’s rights and would be respected. And all parents should also read The Globe,” says Senobe. “The life stories in The Globe of my friends in other countries touch my heart. Sometimes I feel like I do not know what to do because they, adults, abuse children and they make it difficult for children. I think adults must also read The Globe magazine so that they know about children’s rights,” says Mpho. “Adults need to know that we don’t want to be abused; they take advantage because of their physical power. We
want to be respected, we are the ones who must stand up and fight for our rights. Every child ought to have his or her own Globe magazine to learn about our rights, and to use it to protect children,” says Senobe. “Children need rights because they are as much
e world” “Vote to change the world!” Scotty Carlson, 12, made a speech at Global Vote Day at Skyline School, Solana Beach in California, USA. Later, when the school had their World’s Children’s Press Conference, Scotty was interviewed via Skype on CNN, on prime time television.
Kebone Nxube helps Danny Kgatishwe to put up arrows for the voting queue to follow.
uld be able to read The Globe” citizens of the country as any adult, it’s very important to have our rights respected because we are the future. If we know our rights will also respect other’s rights and the world would be a better place for all people,” says Mpho. “I want the whole world to have people who dedicate their lives to children, and for other people to follow them. When I vote l feel that I am making my contribution for a better world,” says Senobe. “When we prepare for the Global Vote, I am on top of the world. I used to hear people say ‘we are going to vote’, and l didn’t know what was that but now l know. People think I am crazy when l say that this children’s vote is more important than an
adult vote, because it’s a global vote for my rights and the choice is mine,” says Mpho. “If l can speak with the Minister for Education l would tell her to use the Children’s Prize for final exams and that parents must read The Globe with their children. I also love jury member Gabatshwane, who lives here. l wish l was like her. She loves and respects other children, maybe because she reads The Globe magazine all the time, for a long time. If all children could read it, everyone would respect each others rights and be respected,” says Senobe.
Soon the ballot box will be ready.
“Every day the World’s Children’s Prize changes the world. It empowers the children of the world to make a difference. From all corners of the earth, the rights of the child are neglected. But the World’s Children’s Prize, with our help, is trying to stop that. Learning about the prize has opened my eyes. It has given me power. It has made me aware of what is happening in the world to children, and the efforts that are being made to stop it. The World’s Children’s Prize has inspired me. They honour people who risk their lives, and accomplish so much through love and hard work. I want to follow in their footsteps. I know that I too can make a difference. I hope that people all over the world will hear this call to action and rise to the challenge before us. These are our rights! This is our vote! These are our heroes! Let’s vote to change the world!”
TEXT: CHRIS SAMPAIO PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
Ravel Sousa Marinho, 12, jumps out of his hammock early in the morning. Today is the day that his feature on São Jorge school's preparations for Global Vote day is to be broadcast on Santarem’s Rural Radio station. Every year, youth reporters give broadcasts on several different radio stations about how children in Amazonas in Brazil are working with the World’s Children’s Prize.
“I'm the leader of the election committee and an election supervisor. Then I help to make the school look nice and I play in the WCPRC band. It’s really great,” says Ravel.
World’s Children’s Prize o
avel gets to school quickly because he lives nearby. He starts up the diesel generator and sound equipment so that he can broadcast the programme “Listening and learning”. He and the other children taking part in the morning session soon hear the voice of 11-year-old Reynan da Silvas
live from the studio in the city of Santarem. The youth reporters on Educational Radio are based at various places along the River Amazon. “Hi there guys! Today, me and my colleagues are going to tell you about how Global Vote Day is being organised in schools across our dear
homeland! First let’s go to our reporter Ravel Sousa in Tapará Grande: “Good morning to our friends in the Rural Radio station studio!” says Ravel. “This is the fourth year that my school has taken part in the World’s Children’s Prize. This year we’re looking in particular at article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is about the right to education. Many children here in Amazonas have to drop out of school to start working and
Ballot box on horseback The riverboat arrived at the ballot box competition by horse with Isaac Miranda Almeida, 14. It became one of the ballot boxes at the school’s Global Vote.
supporting their families, or to take care of younger siblings. Others are taken advantage of by their parents or gangs, who use money from child labour to buy drugs and alcohol. I think that the authorities should work harder at making sure that children's rights are supported, because many of these rights are not respected here.” Ballot box competition
Ravel continues live: “Children must have the right to make their voices heard! We want to be part of things and have our say about the right to education and about the kind of school we want. A school without beating and abuse, where the teachers care about their pupils and respect them. A school where the teaching is good. A school with a library, where the pupils can look for knowledge, study and read books, so that they can get a good job in the future.
The riverboat ballot box has been emptied of votes by Larissa Miranda Adams, 15, who is the election general for the Global Vote at São Jorge school.
Big brother with ballot box Ravel’s big brother Melck Wandrey Sousa Marinho, 16, carries a ballotbox.
e on air….. “The stories in the World’s Children’s Prize magazine taught us that many children around the world do not have the right to go to school. We want to make all the people here where we live aware of how important it is to fulfil these rights. Our Global Vote Day is very special. We have organised a ballot box competition here in Tapará and we really enjoy designing and building the ballot boxes. We
will use the best ones for the vote, to support respect for children’s rights,” reports Ravel. “Thanks Ravel! And congratulations to all of you in Tapará, who through your commitment and creativity are making the Global Vote a really special occasion where you take your civic responsibility,” says Reynan in the Santarem studio.
Round the world with The Globe
Before the Global Vote begins, all the candidates are presented to the voters through “Mr Manelinho’s dance”. Mr Manelinho is a traditional funny character, who entertains everyone while he talks about his great adventures. At São Jorge school, Mr Manelinho ‘travels’ around the world and meets all the prize candidates en route. Jandilson Colares Bentes presents a candidate to the rest of the pupils, who sing the name of each child rights hero in chorus.
In the voting booth...
“Hi there guys!” says programme presenter, 11-yearold Reynan da Silva in the studio, and hands over to reporter Ravel, who broadcasts live from his school.
Drumbeats for World’s Children’s Prize
Ravel plays in the school band, which is led by his big brother Melck, 16. The band has hats with WCPRC (World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child) on them.
An example to the adults The children at São Jorge school are examples to the adults on how to get involved and take responsibility. The teachers invited the parents to the school to discuss children’s rights. This meant that everyone understood how important the World’s Children’s Prize programme is for all of them, both children and adults.
While the pupils who attend the morning shift at São Jorge school listen to the radio programme with Ravel, the pupils from Pucu, who attend a later session at the same school, gather in the forest to collect bamboo. They’re taking part in the ballotbox competition to build
The friends take the ballotbox to school in their canoe, while Josiane and Josicleisson paddle their own canoe to school.
Bamboo hut becomes ballot box a ballot box that looks like the huts in which they live along the River Amazon.
TEXT: CHRIS SAMPAIO PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
osiane Carvalho dos Santos, 10, and her brother Josicleisson, 11, both help collect bamboo for the ballot box. Josiane is a bit impatient. She has to get to school to present the candidate who fights to free slave children and who defends their rights. “Things like that happen here in Brazil too. The situation for children needs to
improve here as well. Children should be treated well and with love,” she says. Josiane and her siblings have time to play and study, but they all have to help out at home. Josiane looks after the animals – hens, goats, sheep and parrots – while Josicleisson takes care of the bees. “I have to clean the beehives so that the flies and ants are not attracted to them,” he explains. Paddle to school
Josiane and Josicleisson paddle their canoe to São Jorgé
school every day. They’ve done that on their own ever since they were six years old. The journey to school is more fun today than usual. All the children in Pucu who are going to school paddle together, taking the ballotboxes they have built with them. They have to go on foot on slippery logs along the wet ground for the final part of their journey to school. A single slip and they'll end up in deep mud. The pupils from Pucu meet some of their school friends from Tapará Grande on their way to school. They pick fruit
and seeds and break off leafy branches. “We're going to make the school look nice for Global Vote Day,” they say. After a long journey, the Pucu children finally arrive at school. They can hear the World’s Children’s Prize band from a long way off, practising on their drums. They will round off the Global Vote Day along with the drama group, who will recite poetry and dance.
The children in Pucu make their entry for the ballot box competition – a mini bamboo hut.
Voting in the bamboo house
Everyone read The Globe at home Josiane’s dad Jocivaldo is a fisherman and bee-keeper. Josicleisson helps him with the beehives. Jocivaldo tells us how excited the children have been in the run up to Global Vote Day. “It’s the first time they’ve been involved and they’ve been really looking forward to it. They brought The Globe magazine home with them. We’ve been reading it together after lunch on Sundays. It’s interesting for them to learn about other children. The magazine also helps the children to understand about democracy. We live in a democratic country and taking responsibility as citizens is very important. Democracy has developed here, but it’s important that people use their right to express their opinions. That goes for children too.” The family's house is built on stilts, just like the school and most houses here. Every year, the Amazon River and all its tributaries rise by 7-10 metres between March and August. A few years ago, the flooding was worse than usual, and the water swept houses and livestock away.
The tree is full of beehives.
The family in front of their house on stilts.
“Everyone should be treated equally”
Mercedes Klein School in São José dos Campos has been involved with the World’s Children’s Prize for five years. Here are their voting booths and ballot box for the Global Vote.
Leaders listen to the children! “All people have rights, and that definitely includes children. Just like all others, children and young people have opinions and rights that must be respected. It is high time our authorities and leaders turned their attention to the children whose voices need to be heard, so that their destinies can be changed.” Renata dos Santos Loureiro, Castro Alves School, Cariacica, Espírito Santo
Every child in school
Pâmela Germano Cruz and Priscila Kelly de Carvalho at Mercedes Klein School in São José dos Campos, Brazil, write: “The World’s Children’s Prize shows us how children suffer by not having enough food or not being allowed to go to school. There are people who just walk right past those who need help, as if they didn’t exist. Everyone should think about that behaviour. The World’s Children’s Prize shows that every child has the right to study, play, eat good food and have a home, as well as the right to care, love and attention. Since they all have the same rights, regardless of race or religion, all children should be treated equally. All children have the right to happiness!”
We care “The Global Vote is a fantastic idea, because I don’t think that children anywhere in the world have full freedom of speech when it comes to defending their rights. Adults think that just because we are small and don’t know as much as they do, we don’t understand what’s best for us. Quite the contrary - WE are the children, WE live with our problems, and WE care about our own futures. Take global warming for example. It started before we were even born. It’s not our fault, but we can’t just stand by and hope that the adults will solve it!” Stefhani Aparecida Alkin Padilha, Paulino Botelho School in São Paulo
“What is done to children now determines what they will go on to do to society. Every child must have the right to go to school. But to be able to learn, they must also be well fed and healthy. If we do not develop as people, there will be no development. Violence is the result of a lack of education.” Bruno Martins Pereira Lomba, Castro Alves School, Cariacica
TEXT: CHRIS SAMPAIO PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
Voting by computer
Tamires’ Global Vote rap Tamires Saldanha de Souza, 14, who goes to Mercedes Klein school in São José dos Campos, Brazil, has written a rap:
My name is Tamires I’m not here to play This issue is serious There’s sense in what I say The World’s Children’s Prize is important I’m telling you, this prize is excellent Children need love and children need care Not to be hungry, sore and in despair They must get education Power, pride, potential We must all be humble and try to reflect Each candidate who we want to elect Because they treat children with respect So I will ask my friends for a presentation Of the people who give children hope of transformation!
At Colégio Neo Master School in Ponta Grossa, Paraná the children cast their votes in the Global Vote on the computer. Around every computer, there is a voting booth so that nobody can see who others are voting for.
“Participating in the World’s Children’s Prize was a chance for us to learn about people who give their lives to help others,” says Clara do Prado Patrício, left. “The candidates fight for a better world,” says Gabriel Pádua Valladão, in the voting booth on the right. “We get to know the great heroes of our planet, who defend the rights of the child. Organising a genuine election, with candidates who really fight for a good thing, has been one of the most important lessons of my life,” says João Lucas Pareta Degraf. “The World’s Children’s Prize makes us reflect on the rights of the child, and makes us behave with more compassion,” says Matheus Serenato. 66
WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES? Every year, the World’s Children’s Prize child jury selects the three final candidates for the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child from that year's nominations. To be able to make a fair choice in the Global Vote, it's important that you have equal knowledge of all three candidates – and you will if you read about them on the pages that follow. The two candidates who do not receive the voting children's prize receive the World's Children's Honorary Award. All three candidates receive a sum of prize money to go towards their work with children.
CECILIA FLORES-OEBANDA Philippines Pages 68–87
MONIRA RAHMAN Bangladesh Pages 88–105
MURHABAZI NAMEGABE D. R. Congo Pages 106–125
Why has CeCiLia been nOminated?
TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda has been nominated for the 2011 World's Children’s Prize for her 20-year struggle against child labour and trafficking. Cecilia herself was five when she started working, and she has made it her life’s work to fight for the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable children. Cecilia founded the organisation Visayan Forum, which has rescued tens of thousands of girls from slave labour and trafficking. They do preventative work in towns and rural areas to stop children from being exploited. Cecilia has influenced legislation in the Philippines and the wider world to bring about better protection for children. Despite constant death threats, she doesn’t give up. Cecilia and Visayan Forum run eight halfway houses for girls all over the country, four support centres for domestic workers and one safe house, a home for those worst affected. Since 2000, Cecilia and Visayan Forum have helped 60,000 victims of trafficking and taken several cases to court. They have trained thousands of partners to combat trafficking, including judges, prosecutors, police, travel agencies and government authorities.
NOMINE E • Pages 68–87
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda The phone rings in the middle of the night. A voice hisses in the darkness: “Stop getting in the way of trafficking, or we’ll kill you and your children.” But Cecilia Flores-Oebanda won’t be scared off. She is used to death threats, after many years of fighting the people who buy and sell girls into slave labour. Today, she is one of the world’s foremost advocates of ending modern-day slavery.
ring it on!” Cecilia usually replies. “Every thing in me will fight, down to my last drop of blood.” Nothing will make her give up her dream for all children in the Philippines to have their rights fulfilled – rights to a good, safe life where they go to school and don’t have to work. Trading in humans is the third most profitable trade in the world, after the drugs trade and the arms trade. Many people are losing mon ey because of Cecilia’s fight. “But they’re afraid of me now. They know that I’ll nev er give up,” she says. The first time Cecilia was threatened she was afraid, mostly for her children’s sake.
“But all my children agreed that I have to keep going.” Locked gates
Cecilia is always on her guard on the way to work. A female security guard opens the iron gates and is careful to lock the heavy padlock once Cecilia is inside. Three young girls come running and throw themselves around Cecilia’s neck. “Auntie Dai!” they shout, using the children’s nick name for Cecilia. “Come and play with us!” The girls are cousins from
Cebu in the Visayas islands, one of the poorest parts of the Philippines. Many victims of trafficking come from there. Rosalie, 10, and her cousins have just been rescued by Cecilia’s organisation, Visayan Forum. Soon they will move to her safe house. It is a home for girls who cannot
Cecilia and the girls she helps are often threatened and need protection. but Cecilia is not afraid, she will never stop fighting.
Rosalie, 10, and her cousins were rescued from dancing naked in front of film cameras at an internet cafe. Now they're safe at Cecilia's safe house.
ing. It took several months for them to find us too.” It didn’t seem safe for the affected children to stay in the area. So Rosalie and her cousins were taken to Cecilia and Visayan Forum in Manila. “But now I’m so happy. I miss my family, but my grandfather says life is better for me here, and that I need to do my best at school.” Cecilia’s own story
Cecilia’s own family were
a return to their families. One girl may have been sold by her own parents, and so she would be at risk of being sold again. “My father is dead and my mother didn’t do anything to put food on the table for me and my siblings,” says Rosalie. “I lived with my grandfather.” One of Rosalie’s neighbours, Archie, was always saying that she and her cousins should stop school and work for him. Archie and his friend Stella ran an internet café and said that they needed models to make movies. Archie said, “You could earn a lot of money.” “I had to stop school - we didn’t even have any food,” says Rosalie. “That was when my cousins and I started to work for Archie.” Archie had promised that he would only film the girls’ faces, but that was a lie. “We had to dance naked in front of a camera. Archie said that men in other countries paid to watch us.”
Everything Rosalie did was filmed with a webcam. The film was broadcast live online for men in the USA and Australia. While the men watched the children, they sent messages to Archie saying what they wanted the girls to do in front of the camera. The girls worked for Archie and Stella for over two years. They gave the money they earned to their families. Many other children did the same. Archie said that they weren’t allowed to tell anyone what they were doing. Police raid
One day, the internet café was surrounded by armed police. From a distance, Rosalie saw Archie and Stella being dragged into a police car. Four children came out of the house too, crying as they were taken away by the police. “People said that we’d end up in jail because we had worked for Archie. We were terrified so we went into hid-
Cecilia sold fish as a little girl to help her family survive and so that she could go to school.
among the poorest of the poor. “We lived between a garbage dump and a river,” she says. “I started working when I was five. My sisters and I sold the fish that my father caught in the river. I walked around in the heat with the fish basket on my head, with smelly water and fish oil running into my hair and over my face. But I knew I wasn’t allowed to come home without having sold every single fish.” “People said to us, ‘dance for us little girl, then we’ll buy your wares’. So I danced and sang.” Cecilia and her eleven siblings searched the garbage dump for things they could sell. Sometimes they didn’t have time to get out the way when the garbage truck came. “Once I ended up up to my chin in stinking garbage!”
What is trafficking? Trading in humans is the third most profitable trade in the world, after the drugs trade and the arms trade. People can even be sold again and again, as long as someone wants to buy them. Children and adults are taken across borders or to other parts of their countries, to be exploited as forced labourers. This is called modern-day slavery. Many are exploited as maids or sex slaves. Children are kidnapped, sold, tricked or forced to do things against their will. Most of those affected come from very poor families. Traffickers control their victims through violence, blackmail and threatening to harm their victims’ parents or siblings.
Girls who are maids in the Philippines are often treated like slaves. Many ask for help via Cecilia's 24-hour helpline.
Cecilia’s mother was educated, and she made sure her children went to school. She would rather starve than not pay the children’s school fees. Cecilia got teased in school for her odd sandals, and because her hair and worn clothes always smelled of fish and garbage. The worst time was when she was a teenager. “She’s cute, but she stinks,” the boys would say, holding their noses as she passed. “Don’t you know that it’s a new perfume?” said Cecilia, trying to sound cool. Inside she was sad and angry. She saw that many families who didn’t work half as hard as hers had plenty to eat. She decided there and then that her own children would have a better life. Cecilia’s father explained that she had to be tough to
survive in a hard world. “He taught me to box, and he would bet on me to win matches! And he threw me in the river to teach me to swim. Soon I could swim like a fish.” Cecilia won several swimming competitions and got a place on the school swimming team. That got her a scholarship that paid for her school fees and books.
were planning a raid on her house. She fled to the mountains, and became known in the Philippines as Commandant Llway. Few people knew that the dreaded freedom fighter was a teenage girl. After several years’ struggle with the guerillas, she was surrounded by Marcos’ soldiers. She shouted: “Here is Commandant Llway. Don’t shoot, I’m coming out.” Some of the soldiers cut locks from her long hair as proof that they had helped capture her. Helping poor children
During her time in the mountains and in prison, Cecilia had three children. The children born in prison were named Dakip (Capture) and Malaya (Freedom).
Finally, Dictator Marcos was overthrown. Millions of people took to the streets and forced him and his regime to give up. Cecilia now wanted to give her children a better life. But she also wanted to fight for all the children in the Philippines who live in extreme poverty. With the help of her siblings, she began to set up her own organisation in Manila. Then the area where Cecilia grew up was hit by a typhoon that killed over 10,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless. Cecilia discovered that ruthless traffickers were exploiting other people’s bad luck. Children who had been orphaned or made homeless by the typhoon were prom-
Fighting the dictator
During Cecilia’s childhood, the Philippines was ruled by a dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. She began to protest against the regime at the age of 14, even thought it was very dangerous. She was angry that Marcos and his friends had a luxurious lifestyle, while the poor were starving. One day, a few years later, Cecilia found out that the military
Cecilia loves spending time singing and laughing with the girls that have been rescued by her organisation, Visayan Forum.
Many are given the chance to be children again at Cecilia's halfway houses for girls who have been sold by human traffickers.
Cecilia has taught police and security guards at ports and airports how to recognise traffickers and girls who have fallen victim to human trafficking. They now help her to catch those who buy and sell children.
ised jobs and schooling, but instead were sold into slavery. As Cecilia’s work became more well-known, children began to go to her for help. “I met girls who had fled from slave labour as maids for rich families. Some of them had scars from being burned with cigarettes or irons. One girl had been forced to drink corrosive acid and died from her injuries. She came to us
when it was too late. I realised I had to invest everything in helping these children.” In 1991, Cecilia led the first Global March Against Child
Labour, which now unites millions of children and 114 organisations all over the world in the fight against child labour and slavery. The
Cooperation saves children “Everyone must join the struggle against trafficking and child labour, or we’ll never reach our goal,” says Cecilia. At ports and airports, she cooperates with police, security guards, taxi drivers and baggage handlers. They get training from social workers and from girls who have been victims of trafficking themselves. They learn how to uncover traffickers and their young victims, they keep watch and ask questions, and they hand out flyers with Cecilia’s helpline number on them. Anyone can call the helpline to ask for help, or to report suspected trafficking.
What do Cecilia and Visayan Forum do? Cecilia and Visayan Forum believe that everyone should take part in the struggle to end child labour and trafficking. They fight all over the Philippines and they make sure those in power can’t turn a blind eye to children being bought and sold like commodities. • Children and adults in the poorest parts of the Philippines, where the majority of trafficking victims come from, get education and support. Mothers in particular, are given knowledge to be able to protect their children. • At ports and airports, Visayan Forum cooperates with staff, police, and other authorities, to uncover trafficking and rescue the victims. • Rescue operations are conducted to free children who are being exploited in brothels or as maids in people’s homes. • There are helplines open around the clock for children and adults who need help or want to
report suspected cases of trafficking or slave labour. • Girls who have been rescued are given protection at halfway houses all over the country, help to be reunited with their families, and new confidence and faith in the future. Girls who cannot return home are given a home and an education at Cecilia’s safe house. • Children under 14, who are not allowed to work by law in the Philippines, have their schooling paid for. Older girls get vocational training and work experience, and sometimes financial help. Former child labourers are encouraged to start local child rights clubs, where they play and have fun, but also raise awareness of trafficking, to keep their friends safe. • To win the war against trafﬁcking, we need better laws that protect children and make it easier to send traffickers to jail. Cecilia influences politicians in the Philippines and around the world, to make them change their laws and rules.
Children who have been rescued from child labour help Cecilia in the struggle for children's rights by protesting against human trafficking.
Philippines’ first trade union for maids, Sumapi. Today, Cecilia’s Visayan Forum is one of the world’s foremost organisations in the fight against modern-day slavery and trafficking. Hundreds of staff and volunteers work with Cecilia in Manila, at her safe houses
and halfway houses all over the country, and in her preventative work in villages and slums. Cecilia is known all over the world, but she’ll never forget her roots. “I can still smell the stench of fish and garbage on my body,” says Cecilia.
Cecilia’s safe house Some girls can’t be reunited with their families, so they move to Cecilia’s safe house, Center of Hope, at a secret address in Manila. These girls have often had death threats from the people they are running away from. They are supported by house parents, social workers, psychologists, teachers and security guards. “It has to feel like a real home for them. They gain protection and faith in the future here,” says Cecilia. The land for the safe house was bought using a donation from J.K. Rowling, the author of the famous Harry Potter books. There are plans to build a school and a gym here.
Learn Filipino! The almost 100 different ethnic groups who live on the 7 107 islands of the Philippi nes speak 170 different lang uages and dialects. The national language is Filipino. Since the Philippines used to belong to Spain, then the USA for 400 years, the lang uage contains many Spanish and English words. i = Kumusta Hó Goodbye = Babay Yes = Ohó No = Hindi Hó Help! = Saklala! Long live! = Mabuhay! Friend = Kaibigan Group of friends = Barkada
TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
Global March fights for the 250 million child labourers in the world. Four million of those are Filipino children. The hundreds of thousands of child domestic workers in families in the Philippines had no rights and were often treated like slaves. So in 1995, Cecilia founded the
Samraida smuggled into slavery Samraida was 14 when she was smuggled out of the Philippines with a fake passport. She was flown thousands of miles to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, as a maid to a rich family in the Middle East. “I was treated worse than an animal, and I was sold to a new employer against my will,” says Samraida.
TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
or as long as Samraida can remember, her mother has worked abroad. Her family lives in Mindanao, one of the poorest areas in the Philippines and one that has been ravaged by civil war for over 30 years. Many poor children in Mindanao grow up without their mothers. Most families here are Muslim, so girls and
women from here are in demand as maids in rich Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia. “My mother only came home once every two or three years,” says Samraida. “When I was ten I asked her to stay. I cried and clung onto her, but she got angry and shouted that she worked like a slave for my sake. That night I
decided to stop missing my mother. After all, we hardly knew one another.” Although her mother sent them money every month, the family often found themselves on the brink of starvation. Her father worked hard on the farm, but they still didn’t have enough to eat. When Samraida was twelve she had to start working as a
Jeepney to transport slave girls The jeepney is the most common mode of transportation in the Philippines. They are always imaginatively decorated with bright colours, patterns and decorations. Jeepneys are often used to transport victims of trafficking. They are only supposed to hold 15 people, but the police have stopped jeepney buses where traffickers have packed in as many as 50 young girls. They are often covered with tarpaulin, and the traffickers tell the police and the port staff that the cargo space is full of vegetables or some other commodity.
maid. She also looked after her younger brothers and sisters and the household. Samraida’s job was tough and the pay was terrible. So she decided to go and work abroad too, even though her mother said it was awful. Overseas workers earn more, and two salaries would help the family. But Samraida was too young to get a passport according to the law in the Philippines you have to be at least 23 to work abroad. Fake documents
Samraida’s journey to her job in the Middle East starts when she is 14, when a man from Manila comes to her village. He’s a recruitment agent, someone who recruits
Samraida Esmael, 18 WANTS TO BE: A social worker and work for Cecilia. IDOLS: Singers Celine Dion and Sara Geronimo. LIKES: Singing, especially traditional Philippine songs. LOOKS UP TO: Cecilia, Erica and the others in Visayan Forum.
The huge airport was frightening - Samraida had never flown before when she was smuggled to a life of slave labour abroad.
girls who want to work abroad. The man promises that Samraida will get a passport and a job if she goes with him. Samraida jumps at the chance. Early one morning she sets out on the journey to Manila, with the recruitment agent and two older girls. It takes four days, travelling by jeepney and then by ferry. “Your visas aren’t ready yet,” explains the man. “While you’re waiting you can live with my wife and me and take care of our household.” Samraida and the other girls are kept locked up in the house, without pay. In fact, the recruitment agent says they will have to pay for bed and board. “We’ll reclaim those costs
from your salary from your first seven months in the Middle East,” he says. Long wait
The recruitment agent gives Samraida a note of the details in her fake passport. Her age has been changed to 23 and she has a new name and place of birth. She must know all the details in case she is questioned by the airport police. Still the weeks pass, and Samraida feels tricked and afraid. Will she have to stay here as the recruitment agent’s slave? The dark room where she sleeps with the other girls feels like a prison cell. She wants to go home. “Do what you like,” says the recruitment agent. “But first you have to pay us seven months’ wages, that’s what
you owe us for food, accommodation and travel expenses. And you have to pay your own way home.” Samraida doesn’t have any money and she doesn’t know where to go. After six months, some new girls arrive at the house, and the recruitment agent says that Samraida’s visa is ready. She has a job waiting for her in Kuwait. Three days later she’s on her way to the airport, dressed in a veil and a long skirt. The recruitment agent’s wife has done Samraida’s make-up to make her look older. A man meets Samraida in the departure hall to give her her ticket and false passport. “Look confident. Stand tall and walk straight. And choose the second desk when
Samraida was questioned by police when they discovered that she had a fake passport.
you go through passport control,” says the man, before disappearing back into the crowd. Samraida’s heart is in her mouth as she approaches passport control. Her hands shake as she hands over the fake passport, but the passport control officer hardly even looks up. “On you go,” he says. Samraida realises that the traffickers have paid the passport control officer to let her through. Arrival in Kuwait
Dizzy and nauseous, Samraida staggers off the plane in Kuwait. A man is waiting in the arrival hall, holding a sign with Samraida’s false name. However, she is not taken to her workplace, but to a job
centre in Kuwait City. Samraida is locked into a small room with no windows, which is already full of girls and young women. Some are from the Philippines, others from Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Ethiopia. In the evening, Samraida and a few other girls have to stand in a row and be inspected by three men. Samraida is scared. One of the men says that he has six children and wants a girl to take care of them and the household. “You’ll have to work from four in the morning until two in the morning, seven days a week,” he says. Samraida does a quick calculation in her head. “That’s 22 hours a day! I can’t manage that,” she says. The man is furious.
“You’re lazy! Why did you come here if you don’t want to work?” Over the course of two weeks, Samraida meets a series of men with similar demands. She goes home with one of them for a trial. She has to climb a high ladder to clean a cupboard, but she loses her balance and almost falls. The man takes her back to the job centre. “She’s not good enough,” he says. The owner of the job centre is furious and tries to beat Samraida, but she gets away. “Why are you trying to hurt me?” she asks. “I came here to work, not to be treated like an animal.” When Samraida is taken back to the room, it is packed fuller than ever. New girls arrive from the airport every day, and there isn’t even space to lie down any more. Samraida has to sleep sitting up, but that is almost impossible in the heat. The room has neither windows nor a fan, and it’s difficult to breathe. Samraida realises that she’ll have to take a job, any job, just to get out of there.
Exporting people Hardly any other country in the world has as many citizens working abroad as the Philippines. The country has a long tradition of people travelling abroad to find work, a tradition developed and encouraged by the former dictator Marcos. Almost half of the country’s 10-12 year-olds say that they have considered working abroad. Today, the country is one of the world’s most important sources of migrant workers. Some travel legally, but hundreds of thousands are smuggled out of the country and sold in neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as the Middle East, Africa, the USA and Europe. “Other countries export tea, coffee or electronic goods. The Philippines exports people,” says Cecilia.
After 18 days, Samraida is hired to work as a maid for a family with four children, three of whom are grown up but still living at home. They have a large, four-storey house. An older Filipino woman does all the cooking. It’s Samraida’s job to do the cleaning and the
laundry. Her employer explains the house rules: “You must never leave the house - you are too young to go out on your own. You must wear a veil and you must not wear tight or revealing clothing. Don’t waste time talking to the other maid, or phoning home. And you are not permitted to have any contact with our neighbours’ maids.” After the first day Samraida is exhausted. Her whole body is aching from scrubbing floors, washing dishes and doing laundry from four in the morning until midnight. The other maid has worked for the family for seven years. She whispers a warning to Samraida, to watch out for the youngest son. “He lies and says that the maids are stealing his things, just to get attention from his mother.” Samraida works seven days a week, from dawn until midnight. The days drift by. The house is Samraida’s prison. She wants to go home, but she has signed a contract and promised to work for the family for two years. Every month, she sends her entire salary to her family in Mindanao. They write to her to tell her about the house they are building with her money. That gives her the strength to keep going. Samraida escapes
After two years, Samraida is exhausted but happy. She is going home. Her contract states that her employer has to give her back her passport, and a flight ticket. But there is
a shock in store. Her employer refuses. He wants Samraida to stay on. “Go home if you like,” he says. “But we’re keeping your passport, and you won’t get a ticket from us.” The family stop paying Samraida, but they still force her to keep working. After four months, however, they are tired of her tears and her pleas to be allowed to go home. They send her back to the job centre. There, they say that Samraida has to earn the money for her ticket home, and they sell her to another family. In the new family, Samraida has to take care of a little girl. When the girl falls ill, Samraida goes with her to hospital, and realises this is her chance to escape. She asks permission to go to the toilet, but instead she dashes down the stairs. Once out on the street, she hails a taxi. “Take me to a police station!” The police listen as Samraida explains she has been sold against her will. “We’ll try to help you,” they say. “You can stay here in the meantime.” Samraida is squeezed into a prison cell with around 80 girls and women from the Philippines and many other countries. All are maids waiting for trials or to be sent home. Soon Samraida strikes up a friendship with another girl, Katy. She has run away from an employer who raped her. “He assaulted me every time his wife left the house,”
Samraida has been given new hope for the future through Cecilia and her time at the halfway house.
she says. When Katy ran away, her employer reported her for theft. Now she is awaiting trial. Samraida is scared. Imagine if the same thing happens to her! But after eight months in the prison cell, she finally gets her passport and a flight ticket. As she flies home, Katy is still in prison. She has been sen-
tenced to several years in prison for the alleged theft.
"Domestic work is decent work". Cecilia fights for the rights of maids.
Samraida is Muslim and prays several times a day.
Yet another shock awaits when Samraida arrives back in Mindanao. The new house, which all her money went towards, is gone. There has been fighting between rebels and government forces in her home village. Many people
What is a halfway house?
Samraida was kept locked in like a slave for several years. Today she is back at school and wants to work for Cecilia and Visayan Forum. She is already working to combat human trafficking, distributing information and demonstrating to support the fight against trafficking.
have died, and her house has been burnt to the ground. Her father and siblings are living in a refugee camp. They are delighted that Samraida is home, but they cry as they tell her about what has happened. “You didn’t even get to see your own house!” they say. Samraida decides to go abroad again. “I plan to earn enough money for another house.” “Absolutely not,” says her father, upset. “You’ll have to walk or swim to Manila.” But Samraida is stubborn, and in the end her father gives in. One evening a few weeks later, Samraida is back at the airport. But this time, the passport control officer calls the airport’s special anti-trafficking unit. They’ve been trained by Cecilia and Visayan Forum, and they know how to recognise vic-
tims of trafficking. Samraida claims she is 25, but the special unit’s dentist examines her teeth and discovers that she is under 18. Then they call Erica, one of the social workers from Visayan Forum. Protection at halfway house
Behind high walls, near the airport, is Cecilia’s halfway house, where girls who have been rescued on their way abroad are kept safe. It is after midnight when a guard unlocks the heavy padlock on the gates. Samraida cries silently. She has missed her chance to help her family. And what if she ends up in prison for trying to travel with a false passport? Erica takes her to a room upstairs. In the darkness, Samraida can just see rows of narrow beds, and she begins to panic. Is she back in pris-
on? But one of the girls wakes up and whispers: “Don’t worry. You’ve come to a good place. Sleep now, and we can talk more tomorrow.” The next morning, all the girls gather round Samraida. All of them have been victims of trafficking, but have been rescued by Visayan Forum, an organisation that helps the girls to get an education and be reunited with their families. A week later, Samraida wakes up in the middle of the night. A girl is sitting on the bed next to hers. She has just arrived from the airport, looking scared and confused. “Don’t be afraid,” says Samraida. “You’ve come to a good place. Sleep now, and we can talk more tomorrow.”
Cecilia och Visayan Forum have built nine ‘halfway houses’ near Manila airport and near shipping ports that are used by traffickers. The girls who are rescued are taken straight to a halfway house for protection and immediate help. At the halfway houses there are social workers and field workers who are on hand around the clock. There is also a ‘house parent’ who makes sure that the girls get everything from food and beds to acceptance and love. Based on each girl’s individual situation, they can receive help to be reunited with their families, grants for school fees, and legal and psychological support. The halfway house staff run helplines and train airport and port staff to be able to uncover trafficking and rescue the victims.
6.00 Wakey wakey! Sometimes new girls have arrived from the airport during the night. They are often sad and scared, so they need a warm welcome when the others wake up.
A day in the life of th Near the airport is one of Cecilia’s Halfway houses, a safe home for girls who have been rescued from being smuggled abroad for forced labour.
6.20 Morning exercise This makes even the sleepyheads wide awake. 6.40 Clean and fresh A quick wash and brush of the teeth – nobody wants to miss breakfast.
7.30 Everyone helps Everybody helps house mother Alice to make breakfast and set the table. 11.00 Build a shelter! The typhoon is coming! The game Bahay, Bata, Baygo (home, child, disaster) is all about children needing protection and a safe home. The game starts when someone shouts that a typhoon is coming. Then everyone has to hurry to ‘build’ houses to shelter in.
9.00 Hi Cecilia! Today Cecilia is visiting. She plays games and chats with the girls. Although many of them tell her about sad experiences, there is also room for plenty laughter. 78
12.00 Fish for lunch Krista, 16, helped to fry fish for lunch.
13.30 Musical chairs to Lady Gaga Lady Gaga is booming from the speakers as the girls play musical chairs. Everyone squeals with laughter when the final chair breaks under the happy winner. She was rescued just a few days earlier, after a member of the family she worked for as a maid tried to rape her.
of the halfway house 18.00 Christian and Muslim prayers The Catholic girls use a small upstairs room as a chapel, while the girls who are Muslim usually use the dormitory for their prayers.
The youngest girls can draw and write about their experiences.
22.00 Quiet in the Halfway house Lights out, and all is peace and quiet. But who knows how many new girls will be rescued during the night tonight.
î Ł TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
20.00 Evening karaoke and letters In the evening lots of people gather around the TV to sing karaoke. Others take the chance to write letters home.
Marisela tricked into When Marisela’s father falls seriously ill she has to stop school. The family is facing starvation when she is offered a well-paid job at a restaurant in Manila. But Marisela has been lied to, and she is forced to be a slave at a brothel.
TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
arisela is growing up in Samar, where her family have a small farm. They live in a bamboo hut surrounded by meadows, mountains and tall trees. It’s a beautiful area, but a poor one. The family rarely have enough food to eat their fill. When her father falls ill, Marisela has to stop school and take a job as a maid. The pay is poor and she cries herself to sleep under her master’s table every night. After
six months she returns home and begs her mother to be allowed to go back to school. But it’s not possible. A few days later, her mother’s cousin Lana comes to visit. She says she can get Marisela a job at a restaurant in the capital, Manila. “She’s too young,” her parents say at first, but they give in when Lana promises to take good care of Marisela. The journey begins early the next morning. A few
other girls from the village are going too. It’s the first time Marisela has left Samar, and the first time she has travelled by ferry. The high waves make her seasick, but she is full of expectation. On the journey from the ferry terminal into Manila, tall buildings and wide streets flash past the taxi window. Neon signs and shop windows sparkle in the darkness of the night. But when the taxi stops, Marisela is disap-
Marisela was rescued from slave labour at a brothel and was offered protection at Cecilia's home for girls.
nto brothel pointed. She sees a dirty, rundown house behind high walls. “Where is the restaurant?” she asks. “You must rest first,” snaps Lana. She pushes the girls into the house and leaves them alone in a small room. The others soon fall asleep, curled up on the floor. But Marisela lies awake for a long time. She senses that Lana is behaving strangely, and that all is not as it should be. Captives at brothel
The next morning, Lana tells them the truth. There are no restaurant jobs. The girls are
to work at a brothel and sell their bodies to strange men. Marisela is shocked. “Why didn’t you tell us?” she shouts. “I would never have come with you! My mother wouldn’t have agreed to it!” Lana just walks away. When Marisela tries to follow her, the door is locked. She and the other girls run over to the window and see a guard outside the gates. They are captives at the brothel. After a long wait, a man comes to get them and drags them in to another room. It’s full of girls sitting on the floor in their underwear.
Suddenly, Marisela spots her cousins from Samar. Lana has tricked them into coming here too. One of them, Nadia, tells them that the girls are kept under lock and key 24 hours a day, and are only let out to take care of clients. The men who work at the brothel are called pimps. They guard the girls and take them to clients’ hotels. Nadia feels sorry for Marisela, who is crying and saying she wants to go home. “Lana takes all the money we earn, but sometimes the clients give us a little pocket money,” says Nadia. “I’ve saved some up, and I can pay
for your ticket home.” But when Lana comes back she says that Marisela has to stay. “Nadia’s money won’t get you far. You owe me loads of money so you have to work to pay me back. You have no choice.” One of the pimps takes Marisela to a doctor’s surgery. “Don’t say a word to anyone,” he warns her on the way there. Lana wants to know whether Marisela has any illnesses and whether she is a virgin, someone who has never had sex. Later, Marisela 81
Tens of thousands of girls from poor families are sold by traffickers to sex clubs and brothels in the Philippines.
finds out that clients pay more for young girls who are virgins. She is the youngest at the brothel, and is worth a lot of money to the traffickers. The doctor is suspicious. She asks lots of questions but the pimp is standing next to Mary-Ann so she doesn’t dare ask for help. Nena gives Mary-Ann a special soap and tells her to scrub herself three times a day to make her skin lighter. She also gives her a short dress and thin underwear. Mary-Ann’s own clothes are ugly and childish, says Nena. Mary-Ann wraps her clothes up in a parcel. When no-one is looking, she writes a note to her mother and hides it among the clothes. Then she gives the parcel to Nena. First client
Soon the pimp tries to take Mary-Ann to a client, but she struggles free of his grip and refuses to go. The next day the pimp is angry. He calls Mary-Ann terrible things, and shouts that she can’t just eat and sleep, she has to work too. The pimp drags MaryAnn out with him and leaves her in a hotel room. The client, a Chinese businessman, is annoyed that he has had to wait two days for his virgin. He tells her to take her clothes off and have a bath. She starts to cry and falls to her knees to beg him to leave her alone. “It’s my first time doing this, they’re forcing me.”
Finally, the man begins to cry too. “I won’t touch you. But don’t tell your pimp,” he says. “Lie down and rest.” But Mary-Ann doesn’t dare lie down - she is worried that the man will attack her. “Don’t be afraid. I have daughters around your age, so that’s why I’m leaving you alone,” he says.
A few hours later, MaryAnn meets the pimp in the hotel lobby. “Did it hurt?” he asks. Mary-Ann looks down and shakes her head. Mary-Ann tries to run away
The next day Mary-Ann is dragged to another hotel room. The client is wearing a green hospital tunic, the kind
that doctors wear. He doesn’t care about Mary-Ann’s tears. “I’ve paid for this. Now take your clothes off and do your job,” he says, forcing Mary-Ann down onto the bed. She tries to wriggle free of his grasp, but he is too heavy. She feels like she is going to suffocate. The man rapes Mary-Ann. Then he throws her out of the
Marisela, 17 LIKES: Writing poetry and reading. FAMILY: Mother and six brothers
and sisters – my father is dead. WANTS TO BE: A social worker. IDOLS: TV stars Kris Bernal and
Aljur Abrenica. LOOKS UP TO: Cecilia and the others in Visayan Forum.
There is a small Catholic chapel at the halfway house for girls.
room. She goes down the stairs, determined to run away before the pimp returns. But when she gets to the exit the hotel staff stop her and call Lana. That night Marisela curls up on the floor in the stuffy, windowless room and sobs tears of pain and exhaustion. Is this how her life is going to be now? Help is on its way
Meanwhile, in the village of Samar, Marisela’s mother has found her note in the parcel of clothes. She goes straight to the police station, and they contact the police in Manila. The very next day, they hear banging on the brothel door. There are police officers and social workers outside. “We don’t have a Marisela here,” says the pimp. But Marisela hears her name and calls for help. In the car on the way to the police station the pimp hisses that she’d better keep her mouth shut. “Otherwise you and your family will be in trouble.” Marisela gets scared. What Marisela and Lana are not their real names.
if Lana sends gangsters to kill her parents and siblings? She refuses to answer the police officer’s questions, and the pimp is allowed to return to the brothel. Marisela is moved to a Visayan Forum halfway house. The other girls who have been saved from trafficking welcome her, and Cecilia tells her not to be afraid - she is safe here. Then Marisela starts telling her story. That means that the police and Visayan Forum can do another rescue operation and free all the girls who are held captive at that brothel.
Finally, Lana is sent to prison. But Marisela knows that other people have taken over and have already started recruiting girls for a new brothel. That’s why she continues to work with Cecilia and Visayan Forum to raise awareness of trafficking and report anything suspicious. “Almost all the families in my village have been affected in some way,” she says. “Many children and women have been tricked and exploited. I warn my sisters and all the girls in the village not to talk to strangers. I say, ‘Don’t listen to exciting promises of good, well-paid jobs, not even from people you know.’
After all, I was sold by my own relative!” Marisela still wakes up often in the middle of the night from nightmares, in a cold sweat and with a pounding heart. But she is delighted to be free, and now she’s back at school. “I’m going to train as a social worker and work for Cecilia,” says Marisela. “I want to be like her, and save girls from slavery and abuse.” Marisela and her new friends fight together to combat human trafficking.
Happy and free
With support from Cecilia and Visayan Forum, Marisela dares to testify against the traffickers in court. “I want revenge,” she says to Cecilia. “They stole my childhood.” Before and during the trial, Marisela and her family receive several death threats. But Marisela doesn’t let herself get frightened, and her family support her. 83
Ruby won against trafficker Ruby will never forget the day in court when her trafficker was sentenced to life in prison. She and Cecilia cried when the verdict was announced. It was a historical victory.
TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
uby was 14 when she was tricked by a trafficker. She was the oldest child and lived with her family in the poor area of Mandaluyo. “I had to stop school and start working when I was twelve. My stepfather was unemployed and drank all of our money. He beat me, and my mother shouted at me all the time. One day one of my friends said that her Aunt Nellie could get jobs for both of us at a restaurant on the coast. I saw the chance to get away from my stepfather, and my mother’s nagging. With a good salary I could send
money home to the family.” Ruby and five other girls met at the home of the friend’s aunt. “Nellie showed us our uniforms: short vest tops and miniskirts. She also asked if we were virgins. That made me nervous, but my friends didn’t seem worried, so I didn’t say anything. Nellie said we were going to stay at hers that night and go to the coast the next day. So I didn’t get a chance to talk to my mother. Early the next morning we took a four-hour bus journey to the ferry terminal in Batangas.” The shop in Ruby's area has to guard against theft!
Ruby's school diploma and awards. Left: Rescued girls wear masks at the opening of Cecilia's safehouse.
Questioned by police
Just when Nellie and the girls were about to board the ferry, a guard stopped them. He suspected that Nellie was a trafficker and called the police. “The police officer asked how old I was,” says Ruby.
“First I said 18, as Nellie had told me to. Then I said 16. ‘You look more like twelve,’ said the police officer. He was a big man with an angry voice. I was terrified and in the end I told the truth.” At the police station Ruby also met Chris, a social worker from Cecilia’s organisation, Visayan Forum. “Chris made me feel safe. She explained that we had been on our way to be sold to a brothel,” says Ruby. “And that we had been saved at the last minute, and that Nellie would be put in jail if we would testify against her. But I didn’t dare answer any more questions.” Ruby and her friends were taken to Cecilia’s halfway house. The older girls were furious and wanted to get out. “I wanted to stay really, but I didn’t dare stand up to my friends. In the end we managed to escape, but the police caught us. After that I found new friends at the halfway house. I learned more about trafficking and I met girls who had been sex slaves at brothels. I realised that I was lucky to have been saved in the nick of time. Now I wanted those who had tricked me to be punished. Not just for my sake, but for my friends’ sake.”
thought I was more important than the money.” Historical verdict
Nellie was sentenced to life in jail. For the first time ever, a trafficker in the Philippines had been convicted after being caught while transporting victims. “I was delighted, but also sad for Nellie. I had found out that she had been trafficked too, and that she had just had a child. The businessman who owned the bar we were meant to be taken to had made her recruit new girls. Now Nellie’s in prison but the businessman is free. That doesn’t seem fair.” Today, Ruby lives with her family again. The time she spent at the halfway house gave her faith in the future and better self-esteem. Now
she can put her foot down when her parents fight. She often speaks out about trafficking at protest meetings and supports other girls. “Now I’m studying to become a social worker. My dream is to one day have a family and a home of my own, and to work for the Visayan Forum. That’s my way of giving something back after everything they’ve done for me. Auntie Cecil has inspired me. She has made it possible for thousands of girls to get their lives back, and she never stops fighting for us.”
Ruby's home - the whole family shares one room!
Robileen ”Ruby” Acebo, 20 WANTS TO BE: A social worker and work for Cecilia and Visayan Forum. LIKES: Dancing, but I’m too shy! Writing poetry. DOESN’T LIKE: Loud noises and injustice. That girls are exploited and abused. LOOKS UP TO: Cecilia. She rescued me and inspired me to save others.
When Ruby and another girl agreed to testify in court, they and both their families received death threats. “Sometimes it felt hopeless and I wanted to give up,” recalls Ruby. “But Cecilia and Visayan Forum gave me the support I needed to keep going. The first time I testified I was terrified. Nellie’s family and friends were there, staring threateningly. Later I found out that my mother had been offered lots of money to stop me from testifying. But she refused. I was surprised, but also proud and happy that my mother 85
The children's street theatre warns people about human traffickers.
Children against trafficking A fire in the poor district of Pandacan destroyed the Geronimo Garcia, 13 homes of over 50 families. Many children had to stop CHILD RIGHTS CLUB ACTIVITIES: Meeting friends, acting, going to school and start working in order to survive. singing, dancing. I’m a good actor. I also get help with my school fees. One of them was 12-year-old Dane Padel. LIKES: My gran. My mother left me with Now Dane is back at school, thanks to a grant from Cecilia’s child rights club in Pandacan. Dane and other children who have been saved from having to work are now fighting for children’s rights! “We do street theatre to warn children and adults about traffickers,” says Dane. He and his friends have also made their own t-shirts as part of their campaign against trafficking. Dane has written ‘Stop the abuses’ on his t-shirt. Dane Padel
Victor Reyes, 11 LIKES: School, especially maths. CHILD RIGHTS CLUB ACTIVITIES:
Acting. Likes performing and is never nervous. WANTS TO BE: A police officer. I want to put all traffickers and drug dealers behind bars, to protect children. The police never come to our district. LOOKS UP TO: My gran. She’s one of the leaders of the Visayan Forum in our district. LIKES: When we had a Halloween party. DOESN’T LIKE: Fires. When I found out that the Visayan Forum helped those affected by the blaze, I joined the child rights club.
her seven years ago and never came back. My gran is almost blind so I help her with everything. We hardly have any money, so the neighbours give us food. DOESN’T LIKE: When people drink alcohol, fight and shout. There are gangs here that fight each other. I try to avoid them. WANTS TO BE: A fashion designer and artist. My favourite thing would be to design ballgowns. DREAM: To stop the violence in my area and in my country. BEST EXPERIENCE: When we visited the Enchanted Kingdom theme park. Worst: The big fire. It destroyed many people’s lives.
Stay on your guard! Kert Quiambo, 12 I’m not for sale! Renamae Timoteo, 10
Don’t talk to strangers! Charlie Fernando, 11
Maricar, 13, loves Cecilia’s child rights club. Every day after school she meets her friends and they rehearse their anti-trafficking play.
Maricar keeps her clothes in a wardrobe in an alley. She and her family store their possessions here, since they don’t have their own home.
Maricar and her family don’t have their own house, just a narrow bench and a wardrobe on one of the narrow alleys in the poor area of Pandacan. Her parents sleep on the bench. Maricar and her brother usually sleep on the floor in relatives’ houses. ”One day I hope we’ll have a home of our own,” she says. “I’d love a pretty little house with four rooms.” Maricar used to have to help her family by working, but now the child rights club helps her pay her school fees. “My favourite thing is the drama group. We learn to dance too. We act out stories about trafficking. In one scene I play a maid who is abused by her employer and goes to the police.” Raising awareness
“These are my play clothes. They’re comfortable and easy to move around in. My plastic sandals are cheap and practical. Especially during the monsoon season, when Pandacan is often flooded. I wish I could get high heels and checked ballerina pumps, but they’re too expensive.” School uniform
“I say: ‘Don’t be blind, look around you. If you see something suspicious, don’t be passive, do something!’ My mother was shocked at many of the things I told her. For example, that organised crime exists and that people buy and sell children. If traffickers try to recruit me I’ll report them to the police. If they try to kidnap me I’ll escape. I’m good at fighting!” When Maricar hears that a trafficker has been given a jail sentence it makes her happy. “But it doesn’t happen often enough,” she says.
“We have to wear white shirts and pink trousers to school. We buy them second hand from older children who’ve grown out of them. Right now it’s the summer holidays. I miss school and my friends there.” Ballgowns
“I’m allowed to borrow these dresses from the child rights club when I’m going to dance Filipino dances like Tatarin and Buling-Buling. I love parties, especially the Santo Niño festival. We play and dance on the streets.” Santo Niño, the Holy Child Jesus, is the Patron Saint of Pandacan. According to legend, the area was attacked by the Spanish army in the 19th century. But the soldiers called off the attack when they saw a little boy playing in front of their canons. The inhabitants of Pandacan said it must have been the child Jesus who saved them. Since then there has been a festival every January in memory of Santo Niño.
TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
Maricar has learned a lot about trafficking and the rights of the child. She raises awareness among everyone she meets: family, neighbours and schoolmates.
Maricar with her family. The narrow bench and wardrobe in the alley are their ‘home’.
Why has MoniRa been noMinaTed?
TEXT: MONICA Z AK phOTOs: KIM NAYLOR
Monira Rahman has been nominated for the 2011 World’s Children’s Prize for her courageous struggle to put a stop to acid and petrol violence in Bangladesh. Most of those affected are girls, but women, boys and men are also attacked. Often young girls are attacked with acid for spurning a marriage or love offer. Attacks on men but also on women, often arise out of disputes over land. Many young children are attacked because they were sleeping with their mother, some babies are acid attacked by their father because of being girls. Acid violence has been common for some time, but before Acid Survivors Foundation, established in 1999 with Monira as its director, this issue was not recognized as a matter of violation of human rights. In the organisation’s early years, there was more than one acid attack every day in Bangladesh. Today, there are only half as many attacks. But the goal is for no-one - no child, no girl, no woman and no man - to be attacked with acid or petrol by the year 2015. ASF helps survivors to live an active life, with dignity. They even offer plastic surgery, if necessary. The survivors themselves are the greatest activists against this kind of violence.
NOMINE E • Pages 88–105
Monira Rahman The first time she saw a girl whose face had been destroyed by a man throwing acid, Monira Rahman was shocked. She had had no idea that men in her country, Bangladesh, did this to destroy girls’ appearances for life. Often, the motive was jealousy. The second time, Monira fainted. But since then, she and her organisation, ASF, have fought non-stop to save girls – and boys – who have been the victims of attacks using acid or petrol dousing. Monira and ASF have even managed to halve the number of acid attacks in Bangladesh.
onira Rahman is a happy and very dynamic woman. She has always been that way. “When I was born, my country belonged to Pakistan and was called East Pakistan,” explains Monira. “When I was six, civil war broke out. Our house was burned down, we had to flee, my father died from cholera, and we were extremely poor. But our country became
independent, and since then it has been called Bangladesh. When I was seven my mother moved to the capital, Dhaka, with us, her six children. “My oldest brother became the head of the family. He
went into business, things went well for him and we became better off. I went to school, but I was terrified of my older brother coming home every afternoon. He used to shout and my sisters
Monira demonstrating with survivors of acid attacks and petrol dousing attacks. Thousands of men are demonstrating too.
“We have hundreds of survivors who are part of the fight against acid throwing and petrol burning attacks. They demonstrate, meet politicians, and press charges against the attackers,” says Monira.
and me. He made fun of us. We were punished for the slightest little thing. He used to beat us. I was terribly afraid of my brother. That was when I decided never to get married.” Important teacher
In Year 7, Monira had a teacher who liked her and believed in her. “She said I was clever. She gave me the courage to stand up for myself. She encouraged me to join debating clubs and express my opinions. She made my confidence grow. These days, when I meet all the people who have been injured by acid and petrol attacks, I try to act in the same way. I show that I like them, and try to give them confidence.” After meeting this teacher, Monira became a student leader and demonstrated on the streets. She and her friends were attacked. Many were beaten and injured. “I came to a realisation that we have to change society, but
that we can’t bring change through violence. The only way to find solutions is to discuss the problems together.” During a severe famine following a cyclone that caused widespread flooding, Monira and other students cooked food for those affected. Monira saw a lot of terrible things. So once she had graduated from university, she started working as a social worker for an organisation that helped homeless women and children. At that time, women and children who lived on the street used to be arrested by police and locked up in appalling conditions.
dow, but it wasn’t a ball - it was a rolled up piece of paper. When I opened it out, it read: ‘Go to the boys’ toilet’. The door was locked, but I managed to get it open. Inside, a boy of 5 or 6 was lying on the floor. He had been tied up, he had a high fever, and one of his legs was broken. The staff had abused him and broken his leg because he had wet himself. That time, it was good to be able to intervene.” For a long time, Monira worked with homeless girls
“Once I went to look at an orphanage far away in a rural area. I was shown around, and I couldn’t see anything particularly wrong. Afterwards we were sitting in the office when I caught sight of a few children outside. I thought they were playing, and that they had thrown a ball through the open win-
Even the government of Bangladesh has listened to Monira and ASF.
and women who had been locked up. “They lived in a large, rundown, red building. They were locked up in large halls, and many of the rooms didn’t have any windows. There could be as many as a hundred people in the same room. The first day, I caught sight of a woman who was lying with her hands and feet bound. I untied the ropes. Then I was called to the manager’s office and he shouted at me. I replied that you simply can’t treat people like that. The manager didn’t say anything, but I think he agreed with me, because I didn’t get sacked. “These girls and women lived in fear. Every night, staff took a few of them out and raped them. Some of them didn’t even know their own names or where they came from any longer. They didn’t have any papers. I started to find out who was who, and managed to trace many people’s families. One woman had been locked up 89
Monira jokes with Sweety, filling her with courage for the plastic surgery procedure she is about to undergo.
for 21 years. I helped her to speak again, and I found her family. I watched her come back to life. It was a wonderful thing to see. And I saw her leave that big red house and go home to her family. “During those years, I learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to tackle the most difficult situations, and that you have to find strength in yourself first before you can give strength to others.” First acid victim
Thirteen years ago, she met two girls who had survived acid attacks. “Men had thrown acid at
them in order to destroy their beauty for ever. I hardly knew that that sort of thing happened in my country. Nobody talked about it or wrote about it. I had only ever read one little article about an acid attack. And now a 17-year-old girl was standing in front of me, with her face totally disfigured by acid. Her whole face had melted away, and one of her eyes had been destroyed. I was deeply shocked. When one of the girls began to speak, I saw her strength. She talked, she smiled and laughed - she was alive, despite her terrible injuries. Instead of seeing a dis-
figured face, I began to see a girl, another human being. “But at night I had nightmares. I dreamt about the acid being thrown... I saw flesh and bones melting... I saw deformed faces... I heard screams. Every time I woke up I thought: How can something like this be possible in my country? And how can these girls be strong enough to be able to show themselves and explain why they were attacked?” I fainted
“The media didn’t care about these two girls. But they had piqued my interest. I knew
that I wanted to find out more about this. So I started to go to hospitals and discovered that the burns units were full of victims of acid attacks. And every day, new patients arrived. There were children, girls, women, boys and men, but the vast majority were young girls. Everyone was crying, there weren’t enough beds for everyone, and there were no doctors. The conditions were horrific. I fainted, twice. “I remember the second time I fainted. A girl came in with burns over 50 percent of her body. Her whole back was one big open wound. I remember thinking, there’s no way she’ll survive. We took her to a private hospital. But the conditions there were terrible too. The smell was the worst thing, and the wound was oozing. I fainted. A nurse took me out of the room. When I was feeling better, I went back in. The The operation is over, and Monira congratulates Sweety – it has been a great success!
experienced, and we felt better and got stronger. Today, we have psychologists here at ASF. They help the survivors, but they also help the staff who work with them.” Monira was also afraid of being attacked herself. In the early years, she always carried a bottle of water with her. She had learned from the plastic surgeons that the best thing to do after an attack is to pour water on the wound. Now, most people in Bangladesh know to carry on throwing bucket after bucket of water over the victim, for a long time. This can lessen the damage. And everyone knows that if victims get to the ASF hospital within 48 hours, they have a good chance of survival, and the damage can be limited. Children affected by acid throwing or petrol dousing gather at ASF, to spend time together and paint together.
girl survived. And I have never fainted again.” Founded ASF
By now, Monira had realised that acid attacks were common. The motive was often jealousy. When a girl refused to marry a man, he would throw acid at her as a form of punishment. And there was acid everywhere - it was used in the textile industry, in the jewellery industry, in car batteries, everywhere. Every day, someone was attacked with acid. The vast majority were girls under 18 and children. But grown men and women were attacked too. Often, acid attacks on men were sparked off by conflict over land. Monira felt that she had to do something. But what? Monira met a Canadian plastic surgeon called John Morrison. They decided to form an organisation that would help survivors. They called the organisation ASF, the Acid Survivors Foundation. Monira is now the director of ASF.
“We founded the organisation in 1999, eleven years ago. We didn’t have a penny. But we felt that we had to do it. At that time, there was one acid attack every single day. Since then, the number of acid attacks has halved - now, on average, there is one attack every other day. But our goal is to put a stop to them altogether, so that no children, no girls, no women and no men are ever attacked with acid again. We have also started to care for those who have been injured in attacks where someone has poured petrol over them and set them on fire.”
the victims strength. Of course, it is hardest for the survivors. Being attacked with acid or petrol is a terrible experience emotionally. From one day to the next, your life changes completely. No-one recognises you any more. Your nearest and dearest can’t even look at you. You don’t dare look at yourself in the mirror. It was hard for those of us who worked with them too. At the start, we used to go back to the office and shout at each other. We could release our feelings there. But we talked and talked about what we had
People know now
“I was never attacked, and now I’ve stopped carrying a bottle of water around with me. Today, people know about this violence. We have hundreds of survivors, who are also activists. They demonstrate. They meet with politicians. They press charges against the people who throw acid. They find old victims and explain that even though their wounds are old, ASF can still help them. They manage to get thousands of men to demonstrate about violence against women on International Women’s Day. We have also managed to create our own Center, with a plastic surgery clinic. We offer
Afraid of being attacked
Things were tough at the start. “It took a year before I could look at victims of acid violence without flinching and starting to cry. I had to get over that to be able to give
Monira cools down a young woman after her operation.
completely free treatment. We have even sent some victims abroad for extensive plastic surgery. Some have been given new noses, even whole new faces. We have lawyers who try to help us make sure the guilty parties are caught and convicted. We have 80 staff, and 20 of them are themselves survivors of acid attacks.” ASF has persuaded the government to make several changes in legislation. The organisation has also persuaded celebrities to participate in gala events, and ASF has helped write the script for a feature film about a schoolgirl who is attacked with acid. The reward: a smile
Monira plays down her own role in all this success. She believes that it is the survivors themselves who have achieved it all. “Those of us who work with survivors try to teach them to be strong. We try to encourage them not to hide
away indoors, but to have the courage to go out and show their damaged faces. We try to help them feel that they are worth something, that they can get an education, get married, have kids. For me, the greatest reward is seeing one of them start to smile again. That 17-year-old girl, who first got me interested in fighting acid violence, now lives in the USA. She will soon graduate as a nurse. “The thing that brings the most joy to me is meeting the people whose lives have been turned around. I remember little Bubly. She was seven months old, and nobody expected her to survive. Her father had poured acid into her mouth because he had wanted a boy. She has had lots of operations, and now she is a lively ten-year-old, who everyone here just loves. Many survivors are now studying. ASF pays for their education for as long as they want to study.”
Married after all
Monira is telling her story from her little office. Soon she’s going to a meeting with an international organisation, to try to persuade them to give ASF some funding. She is constantly on the hunt for money, so that ASF can afford to continue its work. “When I get back from that meeting, I’m going to meet some children who have been injured. Some have been brought in for operations, and others have just come for support. We try to paint together once a week. After that, I’ll go into the ward and talk to the people who have just had operations. Then I’ll go home to my family.” When she was little, Monira decided that she would never get married. “But then I met a man who was just like me. He had decided never to get married too. He was a TV cameraman, and he dedicated himself to reporting social problems and trying to make a
“The greatest reward for me is to see someone start to smile again,” says Monira.
difference. He put so much energy into his work. We were so alike. We fell in love and got married. Now we live in a small apartment and we have two boys, aged 8 and 12. They often come with me to work. My boys don’t see the scars, they don’t see the wounds, they just see friends. They usually celebrate their birthdays here.”
When Monira and ASF started their work, there was an average of one acid throwing incident every day. As a result of ASF’s protests and awareness raising work, the number of acid throwing incidents has been halved.
Sweety wants to be a detective 14-year-old Sweety locked herself inside her sister’s house for a whole year. She never went out, she just sat in a corner crying. She always wore a scarf over her face. “I didn’t have the courage to show my face.” When she found out that ASF, Monira’s organisation, could help her with plastic surgery, Sweety got her zest for life back. She wants to become a detective and put all the men who have harmed her and other girls behind bars.
madly in love with me and we’re getting married’. He even told them the date of the wedding! “When his father, my uncle, came to our house to talk about the wedding, I explained that I didn’t love him at all. I said that his son was really bothering me.” “But then my cousin started telling everyone that he would poison himself if I
didn’t marry him.” “I tried to talk sense with his father – he’s a police officer. But he just said, ‘If my son takes his own life because of you, you will bring shame on our whole family. You must marry him.’”
“I knew that he wasn’t good – he drank and he smoked marijuana – but I was forced to marry him. I was only thirteen. After the wedding, my husband said, ‘I married you to punish you. From this moment on, your life will be a living hell.’” Living hell Sweety’s life really did Sweety’s father lived far away. become unbearable. She had Sweety and her mother were to stop going to school. She forced to agree to it. was abused. After a while, she
TEXT: MONICA Z AK PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
ere’s what happened: Sweety lived in a village. She was always happy, she laughed a lot and loved dancing. She was doing well at school. “One day, when I was thirteen, my 17-year-old cousin caught up with me on my way to school. He said, ‘I love you. I want to marry you.’ I replied, ‘Firstly, I don’t want to get married because I’m too young. Secondly, I don’t have feelings for you. We’ve played together, and I feel like your little sister. And cousins shouldn’t get married anyway.’” Sweety thought her cousin would forget about it and leave her in peace. But he went round and told everyone in the village, ‘Sweety is
Sweety waiting for plastic surgery to stop her mouth from hanging open.
Sweety will be given anaesthetic before the operation.
and her husband moved to another city where they both got jobs in a textile factory. “We worked in different departments. I found out from another girl that he had started seeing a girl who worked in his department. In the evening I asked him if it was true. He pulled out a knife, cut my arm, poured salt in the wound and said, ‘If you scream I’ll kill you’. I didn’t scream, I just cried quietly. Allah gave me strength.”
Threatened with strangling
Another day, Sweety’s husband asked for money to take his new girlfriend to the cinema. Sweety refused, so he tried to strangle her with a rope. When their landlord came running, Sweety’s husband said, ‘It’s nothing. Just a little family problem.’ “He had a special stick for beating me. Another time he wanted money from me to take his girlfriend out to a Chinese restaurant. I refused, but he took the money from my bag and and left. I knew
Nervous wait for the operation.
Soon it’ll be time for the operation.
which restaurant he was at so I went there and said, ‘I refuse to accept this. I’m leaving you. I’m moving back to my mother’s house.’ He replied that he could have as many girlfriends as he wanted. He said he would get five girlfriends and be with them right in front of me.” Set on fire
“When he came home that night, he tied me up and started beating me with the stick. Then I must have fainted. Suddenly I woke up - I
was on fire. My hair, my skin, my clothes, everything was burning. He had poured petrol over me and set me on fire. Thankfully the owner of the house saw the smoke and came running. There was a bucket of water inside the door, and he threw it over me.” Sweety survived and was taken to hospital. She had to pay for injections and treatment. Her father sold all his land to pay for her medical care. “It was a horrific time. The
Sweety is under, and it’s time for the operation to start.
doctors seemed like real butchers. I was convinced they were trying to kill me.” Locked herself in
Three months later, Sweety came home. Her mouth was hanging open and it was hard for her to speak. She could hardly move her head, and there were ugly scars all over her body. “I just sat there crying. I didn’t go out. But after a year, my sister said, ‘You’re a burden. You have to try to earn money and help mother and
our little brother.’ So I was forced to go out. But it was so hard to see how people turned away when they saw my face.” Sweety learned to embroider. A couple of teaching jobs came up but she didn’t get them. “I was too ugly. The only thing I could do was hold extra lessons for junior school pupils at home. I taught them to dance, too. Then I started school again. And I got to take care of a little library. I started to read books, espe-
cially detective stories.” One day, Sweety’s sister met a women who was part of ASF, who herself was a victim of acid violence. She told the woman about her sister Sweety. “It was only recently,” explains Sweety, beaming. “That woman found me and told me about ASF. I had never heard of ASF. The woman said that if I went to the ASF Center in Dhaka, they had skilled plastic surgeons who could operate on me.”
Afraid of operation
Sweety was very nervous as she travelled to the capital and made her way to ASF. She was afraid of hospitals and doctors. The doctors had treated her so badly after the attack. But Monira and the rest of the staff talked to her lots to calm her down. ‘All treatment is free at ASF, and you will get pain relief. Our brilliant plastic surgeons will operate on your mouth to stop it from hanging open. And you will hopefully regain movement in your neck.’ 95
The doctors take skin from Sweety’s thigh and transplant it to her face.
For several days after the operation, she has a bandage round her head.
Sweety is both curious and nervous as the doctor starts to take the bandage off. What is waiting for her underneath it?
“I have met so many other people here who have been attacked with acid or petrol, and who have had operations and now live normal lives. They have given me courage. And I have met children who have been hurt too. I have danced with them. And we have laughed so much together. But deep inside I am extremely nervous. I’m so afraid of the operation.” Sweety’s smile
A few days later, Sweety has her operation. Afterwards,
the doctors say everything went well. They took skin from her thigh and transplanted it to her face. She is wrapped in bandages for several days. Then one day, the doctors and nurses gather round her and start to take away the bandage. They hold up a mirror. Sweety stares into it. Her mouth isn’t hanging open! She can talk easily! Slowly, she turns her head she can move it without any difficulty. Then Sweety smiles!
The nurses take away the last pieces of bandage. Sweety still doesn’t know how the operation has gone...
And Sweety’s smile spreads to everyone standing around her. Sweety says: “I just want to cry. I want to cry because I am so happy.” Wants to be a detective
Sweety has reported her exhusband to the police for his terrible crime against her. There is a warrant out for his arrest. But nothing has happened. Now and again, he comes back to the village to visit, but he never gets caught. Sweety thinks he has bribed the police. She knows that he lives down south and
has a new wife. “But now I know exactly what to do. I’m going to have another operation so that my face looks even better. And with ASF’s help, I’m going to study. Then I’ll become a detective. I’m going to be a
Sweety can hardly believe her eyes. Her mouth isn’t hanging wide open any more. Here comes the smile! She is so happy.
detective who finds all the men who are avoiding arrest, so that they can be convicted. I’m going to found ‘Sweety’s Detective Agency’.”
a b e s a ll g o t d in ing fin id e go who e avo an b I’m tive ar y c to o the ing tec wh de en that m go y’s m so . I ’ ’.” et the est, ted Swe ency c arr onvi nd ‘ e Ag c fou tiv tec De
Monira’s dream of a big hospital for survivors “Acid is also used as a weapon in other countries,” says Monira. “In Pakistan, Uganda, India, Cambodia... but ASF now has sister organisations in other countries too. My dream is to build a large, modern hospital in Bangladesh. We could take survivors from other countries too, and hold all sorts of training courses. We have so much to learn from each other. And we all have the same goal - to put a stop to the use of acid and petrol as weapons.”
A day in the life of B Bubly, 10, has spent a lot of time at the ASF hospital. Her father wanted a boy, and when he got a girl instead he tried to kill her by pouring acid in her mouth and on her feet.
7.05 Alone with teddy My mother has gone to work. I cuddle my favourite teddy bear so that I won't feel lonely. He always makes me happy.
When that happened, Bubly's mother, who was only 16 at the time, tried to get her daughter to hospital. She was badly injured - her teeth, mouth, throat and tongue had been destroyed. Since then, Bubly has been cared for by ASF, and she has had a lot of operations. Now she can eat, talk and go to a normal school. She lives with her mother. Once a week, she visits the ASF Center to meet other children who have been injured by acid violence.
7.30 Can't go out
08.00 My favourite dress When I don't have anything else to do, I try on clothes. This dress is my favourite one.
My father wants me to come and live with him. I won't do it. He has a new family now. He thinks that if I move in with him, he won't have to go to court and he won't end up in jail. When I said no, he said that he would kidnap me. So I can only go out if my mother is with me. I can see children playing outside, but I'm not allowed to join them.
09.30 To school To make sure I don't get kidnapped on the way to school, I always travel with my neighbour and her daughter.
15.00 Time for homework Home again. First I do my homework. I love English.
f Bubly 16.00 A hug for mum! Finally, my mother gets home.
16.30 Playtime My friend Sadi and I play with cuddly toys and Barbie dolls and play snakes and ladders.
18.00 Dancing time Mum teaches me new dances too.
17.00 Music with mum After dinner, my mother teaches me new songs and how to play the accordion.
18.30 Please mum... Can't I go out and play with the other children? Not on your own, says mum.
18.35 Hurray! Mum is coming out with me.
I crawl under the mosquito net to sleep. “Good night mum. Now I know what I'm going to be,” I say. “What?” wonders mum. “A plastic surgeon.” “Good idea. Good night Bubly.”
TEXT: MONICA Z AK phOTOs: KIM NAYLOR
19.30 Night night!
Neela wanted to be a Neela’s face and body is covered in ugly scars. A few years ago, she was a beautiful 15-yearold schoolgirl who was forced to marry a man 20 years her senior. When she is asked whether she wants to have more plastic surgery on her face, Neela shakes her head. “Now I’m used to my scars, and this is what I want to look like in the future,” she says. Today, Neela spends a lot of time fighting for other victims of acid violence. She wants to help Monira and ASF, after all the support that she has had.
always wanted to be an actress,” says Neela. “I grew up in Dhaka, the capital city. I went to a normal school, but my father had also enrolled me in a cultural school, so I went there in the afternoons. I studied, singing, dance and drama there. I loved standing on stage, feeling a connection with the audience. I had made my decision - I wanted to be an actress and work in theatre, playing characters with serious problems and strong feelings.”
TEXT: MONICA Z AK phOTOs: KIM NAYLOR
Old photos of Neela show a young girl who looks like a glamorous film star. A man who worked abroad, but had come home to find a wife, happened to see one of these photos. “My uncle told me that there was a man who had seen a photo of me, and that was enough for him. He wanted to marry me, and no-one else would do. I was 15 years old, and there was no way I wanted to get married. I said no. My parents supported me. But an uncle, and some other relatives, tried to convince me and my parents. Yes, he was 35 years old, this man called Akbar, but he had
money and a good job abroad. Finally, I agreed to meet him. I didn’t like him, not in the slightest. And I certainly didn’t want to get married. The only thing I wanted was to carry on at school and then become an actress. “After meeting the man, I went to bed. The next morning, my father told me that he had agreed to the marriage and signed some papers. His oldest brother and some other relatives had put pressure on him. The wedding would take place immediately. Afterwards, Akbar would return to his work abroad, and I would be able to stay on and continue my studies. “He promised that I would be able to keep living at my parents’ house. Akbar said. ‘You can do everything you want to, although you are married. You can keep going to school. I like modern girls.’” Life in pieces
“Nothing turned out like he had promised. My life was in pieces. He didn’t let me stay with my family - he forced me to go with him to the village where his parents lived. On the wedding night, I was ter-
rified. I was shown to a room with a bed. I cried non-stop. He tried to force himself on me, but I just cried and cried. In the end he gave up. “The next day, he left to go back to his job in another country, but I had to stay with his parents. They had a farm. They locked me into the house, and didn’t let me go to school. Instead, I had to help on the farm. My motherin-law found fault with me all the time. I couldn’t cook, I did everything wrong, I was
useless at tending to the animals and no good at helping with the harvest. After all, I had only ever gone to school and learned about dance, music and drama. Now I was expected to know everything about farming. “My father paid the family some money so that they would be kinder to me. But that didn’t help. After a few months, the day I had been dreading arrived - my husband came back. We still hadn’t had sex, and he tried
e an actress “I wanted to be an actress – I loved being on stage. At first, I refused to look in the mirror after the initial operation following the acid attack. But you gave me the courage to look, and I didn’t faint,” says Neela to Monira.
again. I was really scared of him, but I was angry too. I told him that I had been tricked. ‘You said I’d be able to stay at home and keep going to school.’ He hit me and I screamed. People outside the house were wondering what was going on but he shouted, ‘Everything’s fine’.” Glass of acid
“After a while he went out. I lay on the bed, shaking, but I finally managed to fall asleep. Suddenly, I woke up to see
him standing in the doorway with a glass in his hand. He said he had brought a glass of water, in case I was thirsty. I could see he was angry, but I had no idea what he was planning. It wasn’t water in the glass – it was acid. He walked over to the bed and threw the acid right in my face. The pain was extreme. I remember hearing a voice shouting, ‘This is your punishment’. “I screamed, ‘Mum! Dad! Help me!’ “The neighbours came
running and took me to hospital. A relative took me from the hospital to ASF. I was lucky - I got there within 48 hours. At the clinic there is a 24-hour on-call system, so I had an operation straight away.” Neela refused to look at herself in the mirror afterwards. The girl who had turned heads with her beauty knew that her face was almost black and disfigured. She had heard that many people faint when they see them-
selves in the mirror for the first time after an acid attack. “Finally, I plucked up the courage. Monira and many others with scarred faces had talked to me. They gave me the courage to look. I didn’t faint.” Monira’s visit
Today is a big day. The family have just moved into a new house in the city of Sirajganj, where Neela’s father works as a police officer. The big news is that Monira is coming to 101
Monira’s coming! It’s a big day for Neela. Monira is coming to visit, after driving for several hours to get there. She gets a welcoming hug.
visit. She has been driving for hours to get there. Neela meets her with a beaming smile. They hug each other, and walk hand in hand along the narrow alleyways. When they get into the house, they curl up on the bed and talk for hours. “I remember when you came to us,” says Monira, giving Neela a hug. “You were in a bad way. Your skin had been burned by the acid, and it was dark and hard like
leather. We transplanted skin from other parts of your body to your face straight away, but to be honest I didn’t think you would survive. “One month later, I walked into our physical training unit. I saw a girl who was covered in bandages, but who was up on her feet, exercising. I asked, ‘Who is that?’ and when I heard someone say it was Neela, I was over the moon. It was a miracle that
you survived. After three months and several operations, you were able to go home.” “We can keep working on your face,” says Monira. “I can arrange another operation for you.” Neela shakes her head. “You don’t need to do that. I’m not interested in more plastic surgery. I’m used to my scars now, and this is what I want to look like in the future.” Ex-husband jailed
With help from her father and ASF, Neela has pressed charges against her ex-husband. He’s now in jail.
“So I don’t need to be afraid of him any more. And now I have the courage to show my face without being ashamed. I have the guts to talk to groups, and I do it a lot. I am a real activist against violence. I lead demonstrations. I track down decision makers and make demands. I visit schools and try to make sure that none of the students will ever throw acid or petrol. That is important. Here in my city, there are 160 activists, and all of us have been victims of acid or petrol attacks. We make noise and we demonstrate. And we support each other. We have a network and we keep track of
When Monira says that she can arrange another operation if Neela wants it, Neela shakes her head. “Now I’m used to my scars, and this is what I want to look like in the future.”
When her girlfriends come to visit, Neela shows them her wedding sari. She even jokes about her terrible wedding day.
any new victims of acid violence. If that happens, we mobilise to support them. Today, most people in Bangladesh know that if someone gets acid on their skin, you should keep throwing buckets of water over them for a long time. Sometimes we find people with old injuries. Last week we found two. We tell them that they can get help from ASF for free, and that we can
arrange transport to the hospital.” Neela has gone back to school. “You can get a grant from ASF for as long as you want to continue studying,” says Monira. “If you want to go on to university, we’ll pay for that too.” Laughing again
Neela has lots of girlfriends. They do homework, listen to pop music on the radio and
dance together in her room. Today, Luna, Rita and Putui have come to look at the new house. Neela laughs and jokes lots. She even manages a joke about her disastrous wedding. She brings out her wedding sari and shows it to her friends. “I don’t understand how you can be so happy, and how you have the confidence to meet new people,” says one of them. “But I haven’t changed. I have my scars; they’ll never go away. But on the inside, I’m the same Neela I’ve always been.”
Neela has forgiven her parents for marrying her off, and her father has helped to get her ex-husband sent to prison. “My parents were tricked,” says Neela.
One of her girlfriends asks whether she is angry with her parents. After all, they forced her to marry that terrible man. “No, I understand how it happened. They were tricked. They didn’t mean for anything bad to happen. I have forgiven them.” Neela’s father pops in and says that it’s great that Neela is studying. He says she is so quick-witted and logical. “I think she’d make a great lawyer,” he says. “But I’m more interested in studying management at university. I want to work in a bank.” “It’s up to you,” says her father, laughing. “We will never do anything against your will again. Your mother and I are so proud of you.”
“Good Muslims don’t throw acid” When Mohammed’s sister Asma refused to marry the son of the most powerful family in the village, he took revenge by throwing acid on her. “We managed to get him jailed for life, but his family are constantly persecuting us. Personally I want to teach people that our religion is against all violence. Good Muslims don’t throw acid,” says Mohammed. “When I was little we had a
farm,” says Mohammed, 14. “We had a good life. But the son of the richest and most powerful family in the village wanted to marry my sister Asma. She didn’t want to. He said that if she didn’t marry him, something terrible would happen. Still she refused. Early one morning, when my father went out for morning prayers and left the door open, he came in and threw acid on Asma.” “Some landed on me as well, and I woke up from the pain and the noise of my sister shrieking. My oldest brother switched on a torch and saw who threw the acid. He and my father took Asma to hospital - she lost the sight in one eye, but she survived.” Life in prison
“My family reported the guy who threw the acid to the police. We had to sell all our land to take him to court. We are poor now, but he got a life sentence. Then his rich and powerful family started to persecute us. My father leases land now. At harvest time, they drive their cows onto our land to destroy all our crops. They threaten to cut our Achilles’ tendons to make us say that we lied in court, so that the case will be retried.”
“I was seven years old when Asma was attacked and the persecution of my family started. Today I am 14. I feel small and afraid. The only thing that makes me feel safe is that Allah is with me. He is strong. I am in first year at a Qur’an school. I want to be a Religious Education teacher or an Imam. Then I will teach people that our religion is against all violence. Good Muslims don’t throw acid.” Happily married
Mohammed’s sister Asma is now married to a man she loves. They have a little daughter, and Asma works at the ASF Center in the capital. During the holidays her brother Mohammed goes to stay with her in Dhaka. “I can relax and feel safe there,” says Mohammed.
Mohammed and his sister Asma.
om r f i Rum
l: o d I Pop
Five years ago he was in Pop Idol on TV. Since then, everyone in Bangladesh has known who ‘Pop Idol Rumi’ is. He’s the most popular singer in the country and he demonstrates against people who throw acid. “No real men throw acid,” says Rumi.
“Called me monkey-face” When Mamun was a newborn baby, a relative threw acid in his face. When he started school he was bullied and the children called him ‘monkey-face’. Mamun has just had plastic surgery for the tenth time and no-one calls him ‘monkey-face’ any more. “My brave mother put a stop to the bullying at school and in the village,” says Mamun, 9. “All the children used to make fun of me. When I started school they all gathered round me, shouting ‘monkey-face’ or ‘brown monkey’. I ran home crying and refused to go back to school. So my mother went there. She talked to the teachers, and the children. That gave me the courage to go back to school, and the bullying stopped. These days, no-one calls me ‘monkeyface’ or ‘brown monkey’ any more.”
Here’s what happened: Mamun’s family are poor. A relative gave them some land to build a house and grow some crops. One day, the relative demanded the land back. Mamun’s father refused. That night, the relative came and threw acid on baby Mamun and his parents. “A sudden burning pain woke me up,” says his mother, Mageda. When I looked at my little boy I saw he had terrible burns. I picked him up and ran to see the doctor in the village. He knew about ASF. And he knew that if you
Mamun’s mother put a stop to the bullying at school. She got acid on her arm too.
get victims of acid attacks to the ASF hospital within 48 hours, they can often be saved and the damage can be limited. My boy was badly burned - more acid had landed on him than on me or my husband. We thought Mamun was going to die. His face was badly disfigured. He
al men don’t throw acid!” Rumi goes on demonstrations with victims of acid vio-
ance will be despised for the rest of his life.” “I believe it’s important to use your position to make a difference.”
Listen to Rumi from Pop Idol on YouTube: Rumi.Bangladesh
Rumi with friends from ASF, who are victims of acid violence.
TEXT: MONICA Z AK PHOTOS: KIM NAYLOR
lence, and talks about them between songs at his concerts. “I often play at concerts and on TV and radio. I always focus on the men in the crowd. I say that real men don’t throw acid. Real men don’t see the scars on the faces and bodies of people who have been injured. A real man doesn’t look at appearances – all people are beautiful.” Singer Rumi had his eyes opened to what was happening in his own country by his uncle. He had worked abroad
for eight years before moving home. Two days later, he caught sight of a girl. One half of her face was beautiful, and the other totally destroyed by acid. “My uncle fell madly in love. Today they are happily married. Ever since then I have felt real empathy with all victims of acid violence. I feel it in my soul, and I want to fight against this for the rest of my life. I usually tell the men in the audience that they must respect the wills of girls and women. It is wrong to take revenge by throwing acid. I tell them that any man who destroys a girl’s appear-
has just had plastic surgery for the tenth time.” “I am just an ordinary boy in Year 2,” says Mamun. “I have lots of friends and I play cricket. I support the Royal Bengal Tigers cricket team.”
Why has Murhabazi bEEN NoMiNatEd?
TexT: ANDRe AS LÖNN phOTOS: BO ÖhLÉN
Murhabazi Namegabe has been nominated for the World’s Children’s Prize 2011 for his 20-year long perilous struggle for children in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 1989, Murhabazi and his organisation BVES has freed 4,000 child soldiers and more than 4,500 girls who have been sexually assaulted by armed groups, and taken care of 4,600 unaccompanied refugee children. His 35 homes and schools offer some of the world’s most vulnerable children food, clothes, a home, healthcare, therapy, the opportunity to go to school, security and love. Most of the children are reunited with their families. Thanks to Murhabazi, some 60,000 children have passed through the doors of BVES’ various centres and been given a better life. Murhabazi and BVES represent children in DR Congo by constantly urging the government, all armed groups, organisations and everyone else in society to look after the country’s children. Not everyone supports Murhabazi’s struggle. He has been imprisoned and assaulted and is constantly receiving death threats. Seven of his colleagues have been killed.
NOMINE E • Pages 106–125
Murhabazi Namegabe “You're going to die tonight. Eat your last meal!” Murhabazi read the short message that beeped on his mobile phone. He was in an important meeting with the UN, discussing children who were being forced to become soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He looked around cautiously. Had someone in the room sent him the death threat? Murhabazi has made many enemies during his struggle for the thousands of children being exploited and tortured in war-torn DR Congo. “The fight for children’s rights here is a matter of life and death. And I’m prepared to die in that fight, every day,” says Murhabazi Namegabe.
urhabazi hadn’t even been born when he received his first death threat. War was raging in Bukavu in eastern DR Congo in 1964, and his pregnant mother Julienne fled the narrow lanes to get away from the fighting. She didn’t notice the soldiers’ road block until it was too late. One of the soldiers pressed the barrel of his rifle against her pregnant belly, but just as he was about to pull the trigger, one of the leaders shouted: “Don’t kill her! Let her go!” Two weeks later, Julienne
gave birth to a son. She named him Murhabazi, which in Mashi means both ‘One who was born in war’, and ‘one who helps others’. “My mother always says that we were allowed to live for a reason, that I was meant to be born. And that I was predestined to devote my life to protecting vulnerable people.” Everyone should have food!
Murhabazi grew up in one of the poorest districts of Bukavu. But since his father had a job, the family always
had food to eat and the children could go to school. When they had done their homework, they could play with their friends. As soon as he started school, Murhabazi realised that not everyone was as lucky as he was. “A lot of my friends were always hungry and couldn’t afford to go to school. I thought that was unfair. Every day, hungry children gathered outside our house when we were about to eat. Mother put tiny amounts of food in their hands before she sent them away. I thought
Protected by UN Murhabazi talking to a child soldier in front of a UN Jeep. Although the fight for children’s rights in DR Congo is tough, some aspects have become easier for him. “At first we had to go on foot and I often carried out rescue missions to free child soldiers on my own. Today I have UN protection when I travel to various armed groups. I’m not even allowed to travel alone these days!” laughs Murhabazi.
Difficult to rescue children “Every time a child soldier is freed it’s like a major victory. But negotiating with armed groups is not easy. They threaten to kill us when we ask them to release the children. Then it’s difficult to handle the children, because they have been so exploited and damaged by adults. And in the end it can be difficult to get their families, neighbours, villages and schools to accept the children when it’s time for them to return to their homes,” says Murhabazi.
that the children should be allowed to sit with us and eat until they were full. I told my mother that I refused to eat her food as long as things remained as they were!” Murhabazi talked to some of his school friends and together they began to campaign on behalf of the hungry
children in the district. Every afternoon they went around singing songs about how adults needed to take care of all children. The children explained to their mothers that they planned to go on a hunger strike until the poorest children in the neighbourhood were welcome at their table. “At first it was just me and a few others, but soon there were over seventy of us demonstrating every day after school! “In the end the adults decided that the hungry children were everyone’s responsibility, and that they could eat dinner together with families that had enough food to share!” UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Murhabazi and the other children carried on demonstrating, this time to encourage parents and teachers to stop hitting children, and for the right of every child to go to school. The older Murhabazi became, the more problems he saw for children in DR Congo. He knew that children needed adults to
take up their cause, and that he himself needed more knowledge if he was to be able to help children properly. So he studied child development and health at university. He stayed on as a teacher after he graduated. On 20 November 1989 he was listening to the news on the radio after work, as he did every day. That particular day he heard the newsreader announce that the UN had adopted something that was called the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention stated that all children around the world were entitled to a good life. The newsreader also said that every country that signed up to the Convention would have to consider children’s best interests in all decisions. “I was so happy. I organised a meeting at my house with a group of teachers, students and lawyers, and I told them the fantastic news. We decided that we would do everything in our power to get the government of DR Congo to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Murhabazi’s group called itself BVES (Bureau pour le volontariat au service de l’enfence et de la santé, Bureau for Volunteer Service for Children and Health). They started examining the situation faced by children in DR Congo. They planned to report the results to the government, and point out what the country needed to do in order to meet the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. “We had neither money nor
Promotes children’s rights on radio Murhabazi has been speaking on the radio about children’s rights once a week for over 20 years.
Teaches soldiers about children’s rights When Murhabazi visits an armed group, he teaches the soldiers about children’s rights and negotiates with them to release the children.
vehicles, so we often hiked for several days through the rainforest to reach remote villages. At night we were forced to sleep in the trees to avoid leopards and other dangerous animals. Sometimes we were given food in the villages, sometimes we ate fruit in the forest, but we were often hungry.” Murhabazi and BVES continued with their struggle and started to compile facts about the lives of children in
the villages of DR Congo. Terrible facts. “When we reported our results to the government, they weren’t happy at all. DR Congo was a dictatorship back then. If anyone said anything negative about the country, like that children were suffering here, it was seen as an attack on the government. We were given a warning. If we didn’t stop, we would end up in prison.”
Murhabazi and BVES did not stop. They started speaking on the radio once a week, so that everyone would hear about the Convention on the Rights of the Child and what life was like for children in DR Congo. Every time, Murhabazi repeated his demand that the government sign the Convention. And every time the government threatened to lock him up
because his talk was creating unrest in the country. Despite the threats against Murhabazi, the country signed up to the Convention in 1990, but the government made absolutely no effort to follow its principles. “The streets of Bukavu were swarming with children who had no-one to look after them. Their parents were either poor or had died of AIDS. All these hungry and
Mobile phones and computer games fuel war DR Congo has enormous riches. For example gold and diamonds, but also tungsten and coltan. These are minerals that are used in the manufacture of mobile phones, computers, computer games and MP3 players all round the world. The war today is about who will have control over DR Congo’s mines and natural wealth. “I was forced to dig for both gold and diamonds for my commander,” says Isaya, 15, a former child soldier rescued by Murhabazi. The current conflict followed in the wake of the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994, during which almost 1 million people from the Tutsi ethnic group were murdered.
Thousands of the perpetrators fled to the forests of DR Congo, where they remained. Suspicion was rife and a struggle for power broke out between Rwanda and DR Congo, and soon seven countries were involved in one of the most brutal wars in the history of the world. As recently as 2001, the UN accused Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe of encouraging the fighting in order to gather as many riches as possible. In 2008, the UN once again accused Rwanda of keeping the war going. In 2009, the organisation Global Witness revealed that fighting in DR Congo was now driven by European and Asian trade in the manufacture of mobile phones,
computers, computer games and MP3 players. Companies from Belgium, the UK, Russia, Malaysia, China and India were identified because they bought minerals from various armed groups that were brutally violating children’s rights. Companies were keeping the war going by buying the minerals. The fact that politicians, businessmen and soldiers in Africa, Asia and the West are making huge amounts of money from the war in DR Congo makes it difficult to put a stop to it.
Children in war have the same rights “Our children, who are growing up surrounded by war, are also entitled to live, to have a family, healthcare, education and to be allowed to play. They also have the right to develop as people and make their voices heard, as well as to be respected in every way,” says Murhabazi.
dirty children were trying to fend for themselves. Many people referred to the children as ‘dogs’, but we said that they needed protection and love, just like any other child.” In 1994, BVES opened its first home for street children, and 260 boys and girls moved in. After a few months, many of these children had moved back home. But new residents were moving in all the time. Child soldiers
“We thought we’d seen the worst through our work with the abandoned children, but then the war started and life for all children here became pure hell,” says Murhabazi. In 1996, Bukavu was invaded by various Congolese rebel armies with the support of Rwanda. Children were directly targeted during the war that followed. “We had taken in unaccompanied refugee children from ethnic groups that the armies regarded as their enemies, so they destroyed our three homes for refugee children. Luckily I had managed to hide the children in time, so everyone survived. But my first colleague and friend was killed.”
All the groups that were fighting, including DR Congo’s army, were kidnapping boys and forcing them to become soldiers, and abducting girls to use them as sex slaves. Children had to leave school and were forced to flee, often ending up alone on the streets of Bukavu and other cities. “Of course I had experience of looking after tough boys who had lived on the streets before, but child soldiers were a completely different matter. Young boys aged about ten who were on drugs, wearing uniforms and carrying huge weapons. They had been completely destroyed by adults. I wanted to do every-
thing I could to save as many as possible,” explains Murhabazi. First rescue mission
“One day I met a group of mothers in utter despair, who told me that 67 children had been abducted from their village.” Murhabazi set off with a bag packed with a bunch of bananas and books about children’s rights. Alone. “I took a motorbike taxi without saying exactly where we were going. If I had, I would never have been given a ride!” When Murhabazi arrived at the rebel army’s camp in
the forest, he was arrested. He was surrounded by over a hundred armed soldiers. Guards took Murhabazi to the leader, who asked what he wanted. “I said that in our culture, adults always take care of children, but that I’d heard that this army had stolen children and forced them to fight instead of going to school. I said that I was there to take the children back to their parents again. The leader was absolutely furious! He thought I was one of the enemy because I wanted to weaken his army by taking his child soldiers. He ordered his soldiers to tear up my books about children’s rights. Then the beating started.” Children released
Blows from rifle butts rained down on Murhabazi. When he had taken a thorough beating, they locked him up. They explained that he had two choices: to be a soldier in their army, or be executed. The next morning as they were preparing to kill him, one of the leaders stopped the proceedings. He had been too
We will burn the uniforms Murhabazi with boys he rescued from being soldiers. The picture shows how they swap uniforms, so that no-one knows which armed group they belonged to. Now they will burn their uniforms together.
Child soldiers become child rights warriors “I’m convinced that we will succeed in the end. One day, all child soldiers in DR Congo will be free. Every day I feel renewed strength when I see former child soldiers becoming children’s rights warriors in their families, schools and villages!”
drunk to recognise Murhabazi the day before. Now he said: “He's no enemy soldier. I know that this man helps street children in Bukavu.” Total chaos broke out when the kidnapped children heard this. “The children cried and shouted out that I should help them too, just like I helped the street children. They wanted to go home! I told the soldiers that they had to release the children. I said that if their plan was to bring down the government and create a better country, then using children as soldiers was not the way to do it. The children had to go back to school! Who else would be able to build the new and better country that they wanted, if all the young people were drugged-up soldiers instead of young people who had been given a good education?” There was a heated discussion between the leaders. Some agreed with Murhabazi, others didn’t. But Murhabazi managed to convince them in the end. The soldiers let the children leave the forest. The first 67 rescued child soldiers ran to freedom! Prepared to die
That was thirteen years ago. Murhabazi has freed 4,000 child soldiers. Some 60,000 children who have suffered because of the war - girls who have been subjected to sexual assault, unaccompanied refugee children, child soldiers and street children - have been given a better life,
thanks to Murhabazi and BVES. There are now 209 people working at BVES, which has 35 homes and schools offering children a home, healthcare, therapy, the opportunity to go to school, security and love. Most of the children are reunited with their families. Murhabazi has gained many enemies. He gets threatening telephone calls and text messages, and he rarely sleeps in the same place two nights in a row. Seven of his colleagues have been killed in their fight for children’s rights, and he himself has been assaulted and imprisoned. “There are a lot of soldiers, politicians and businessmen, both in DR Congo and in other countries, who are making a great deal of money out of the war. The more unrest there is in the country, the cheaper it is for them to rob us of our natural resources, such as gold and diamonds. In the hunt for riches, everyone, even the armies of other countries, uses armed groups and child soldiers, and everyone rapes girls. When I fight against this I make a lot
of powerful enemies, because I’m disrupting their business activities. They are also afraid of being reported to the UN International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.” The fighting and the violence against children in DR Congo is continuing, despite the peace deal in 2003. Murhabazi will not stop fighting for their rights. “We have to keep going. Nothing will stop me as long as I know that there are children in an armed group. Not death threats or accidents.
When it turned out that it was soldiers who had sent the death threat during the UN meeting, everyone wanted me to stop and leave the country. The UN and Amnesty felt that it had become too dangerous for me to stay. And they’re right really. But how could I leave? I have a responsibility to all the vulnerable children that I and BVES have taken care of. The children trust me. I cannot let them down. Every day I’m prepared to die for them.”
Murhabazi helps the boys to get their uniforms off, which they have put on for a ceremony in which the uniforms will be burned. The boys can have a different uniform to the one they fought in, so that no-one knows which armed group they belonged to.
Children should be playing! “My parents always let me play a lot when I was a child. As long as I had done my homework I could go out and play football and play with my friends. It’s had a huge impact on the way I view childhood. Children must be allowed to play! It’s important for all the girls and boys who are with us here at BVES to be able to play as much as possible,” says Murhabazi. Friends Kasereka and Mupenzi Dame playing at Murhabazi’s boys’ home for former child soldiers.
One of the worst wars in history
This is how Murhabazi’s organisation works: • Visits armed groups and informs them about children’s rights, so that all those ﬁghting are aware of how children should be treated in war, according to both the UN Convention and Congolese law, for example, that child soldiers are forbidden. • Organises the release of child soldiers and girls being sexually exploited during visits to armed groups. • Visits refugee camps and takes care of unaccompanied refugee children and street children. • Offers freed child soldiers, exploited girls, unaccompanied refugee children and street children protection, a home, food, clothes, healthcare, psychological help, and the chance to go to a school that prepares them for returning to ordinary school again, as well as vocational training in tailoring or carpentry. • Traces the children’s families and helps the children to return to their homes. They always prepare the children’s families, as well as neigh-
bours, politicians, religious leaders and teachers in the villages, well in advance, so that the children are accepted and welcomed back properly. If it is not possible to reunite the child with his or her family, BVES helps the child to ﬁnd a foster family. A child is never sent away from Murhabazi’s home until they know that the child will be going to a safe environment. • often supports the children’s families ﬁnancially so that they can afford to let the children go to school and have enough food. It may be that the organisation helps a parent or older sibling to ﬁnd work in order to support the family. • Often helps freed children with school fees and school uniforms long after they have left Murhabazi’s home, sometimes up until they start university. • Informs the rest of society about children’s rights. One way that Murhabazi does this is via a regular radio programme.
• The war in DR Congo is one of the biggest and most brutal in the history of the world. It has been going on since 1998. A peace agreement was reached in 2003, but ﬁghting is still continuing in the eastern parts of the country, which is home to the children you’ve been reading about in The Globe. • Around 5.4 million people have died, either in the ﬁghting or from disease and starvation as a direct result of the war. • At its worst there were over 30,000 child soldiers in the country. Thousands of them have yet to be reunited with their families. The UN reports that 848 children were forced to be soldiers in 2009. • Some 200,000 rapes have been reported since the war began, but many believe that a lot more women and girls have been exploited. In 2009, half of the victims were children. • Over 1.5 million people in DR Congo are refugees. • Over 5 million children in DR Congo do not go to school.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: BO ÖHLÉN
Faida was a soldier Faida, 15 LOVES: Peace. This is the first year in a very long time that I have not been involved in war. HATES: War and death. THE WORST THING THAT'S HAPPENED TO ME: Being kid-
napped and becoming a soldier and a sex slave.
When Faida was eleven years old, she was kidnapped by one of the many armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was the beginning of a nightmare that lasted four years, during which she was forced to be both a sex slave and a soldier. “I don’t think I would have survived if Murhabazi hadn’t rescued me. He risked his own life for me. He’s like a father to me,” says Faida.
he rifle butt struck Faida hard in the face. She tried to get away, but she was rooted to the spot on her back in the high grass. One soldier was holding her arms while another held her legs.
Then six soldiers took turns to rape her. Faida could hear the screams of her friends nearby. They were suffering the same fate. The screams of her friends seemed far off, as though it were a dream. But it
was no dream. Faida and her friends had been working in their families’ cassava field, just like they always did during the school holidays. No-one noticed the soldiers until it was too late. Now two
BEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO ME: When Murhabazi res-
cued me and I got to go back to school. LOOKS UP TO: Murhabazi of course! He saved my life. WANTS TO BE: Someone who fights to make sure children have good lives. DREAM: For all the children in the world to live in peace and be loved.
My rights “In DR Congo, children have to do what adults tell them to do. When adults treat us in a particular way you just think that’s the way it’s meant to be, even if it doesn’t feel right. So it’s very easy to be exploited if you don’t know about your rights. I didn’t even know that children had rights until I met Murhabazi. Now I know that everything I went through during the war was wrong and that my rights were ignored,” says Faida.
er and a slave of Faida’s friends were dead. When one of the soldiers raised his machete to strike Faida, the commandant shouted: “Don’t kill her! She can be my wife!” Armed soldiers guarded Faida and her friend Aciza as they trudged through the field, completely naked. “We found it hard to walk because we were injured, but they forced us.” Finally they came to a road where the soldiers’ lorry was
Murhabazi helps us
My family! “The day I was called to BVES to see if a girl they had there was my Faida was the happiest day of my life! Today she is my daughter and belongs to my family,” says Faida’s big sister Donia.
“Murhabazi helped me to start up a market stall. Sometimes he helps us with money for clothes and food. If anyone in the family gets sick, he makes sure we get medical help. I don’t know how we’d cope without his support, because my dad died in the war and mum refuses to have anything to do with Faida,” says big sister Donia as the sisters do the laundry together.
Frightened neighbours say cruel things The big photo shows the view from where Faida lives with her sister Donia. “It’s not always easy for me here. A lot of the neighbours are afraid and shout things at me: ‘You're a soldier! Go back to the forest where you belong! We don't want you here! Whore!’, and things like that. It hurts. But not everyone does that. My best friend is called Neema, and she accepts me as I am,” says Faida.
My friend Neema “We often braid each other's hair, Neema and me,” says Faida. “I usually charge three US dollars to do people’s hair,” says Neema. “But Faida never has to pay. We’re mates! We meet every day and can talk about anything and even share secrets, because we trust each other.”
parked. The girls were lifted into the back, where sixty soldiers were already sitting and waiting. “I was terrified I would be raped again,” says Faida. Everyone’s slave
The girls were left alone during the long journey to the soldiers’ camp. But then it started again. “The commandant dragged me into his house. He abused me all night, even though I was seriously injured.” The next day, the commandant and a few soldiers went looting. “As soon as he’d gone, the soldiers that were left started abusing me. There were over twenty other girls and women in the camp, but no-one could help me. They were in the same situation as I was and there were armed guards watching us all the time.” When the commandant
came back, Faida was his alone. But as soon as he was out fighting or looting, she was abused by everyone. Day after day. All day long. Back home in the village, Faida’s family were getting increasingly worried. Why didn’t she come home? They went from village to village asking if anyone had seen her. But since no-one in the village had been kidnapped by soldiers before they hadn’t even considered the possibility. After a month everyone was convinced that Faida had been killed in the war. They said their farewells to Faida by having a period of mourning and holding a memorial service in the church, just like they did when someone died. Life as a soldier
After six months with the soldiers, Faida was feeling dreadful. “I was going mad. I just
couldn’t handle being everyone’s slave any more, despite the drugs they forced us to take.” Some of the girls in the camp were soldiers, and Faida had noticed that they were never raped. One day she asked the commandant if she could be a soldier too. “He agreed, and after two months of training in how to use a machine gun, knives and a bow and arrow, I was a member of his army.” The raping came to an end, but the violence didn’t. Early one morning it was time for Faida to carry out her first attack. “I was terrified, but we were given drugs before we left the base. All my fear disappeared and I became very aggressive. The soldiers said that the drugs made us invisible.” Thirty adult
soldiers and seventy children hiked up the tree-covered hills, lugging their heavy weapons. The children were forced to walk at the front.
Family chores Faida cooks a kind of maize flour porridge called ugali for the family. Ugali is the most common dish in eastern DR Congo.
Faida and Neema help each other with lots of things, like fetching water. “I would be very lonely if I didn’t have a friend like Faida,” says Neema, 16.
Beloved sister “It’s terrible that our mum refuses to see Faida. Because she was so sad when Faida disappeared! And how can neighbours shout out such stupid things at my beloved sister?! All children who have been exploited in war have been treated horrendously. We have to give them a lot of love. Faida often has nightmares and gets depressed, and I try to comfort her. I will protect her with my life,” says big sister Donia.
After a couple of hours of walking they spied the enemy camp down in a forest glade. A camp just like theirs, with soldiers, women and children. “My group started shooting and there was total chaos. People were screaming and bullets were flying all over the place. Shots rained down on us in the forest, bits of bark and wood chips sprayed everywhere. My friend Aciza, who was lying closest to me, was suddenly hit in the back. She died.” When the attack was over, Faida and the other children were sent down to the enemy's camp. “We were supposed to strip the bodies of money, mobile phones and weapons. It felt strange because it was the first time I'd done this.” This was the first of many battles for Faida.
Faida missed her family so much it hurt. She was constantly thinking about escaping. But she couldn’t. “A little boy tried to escape once. He was shot immediately. After that I didn’t dare even try. I was also ashamed. Who would want to look after me after everything I’d been through? Who could love me? No-one.” But there was someone who wanted to take care of Faida. Someone who did everything in his power to save her and the other children. It was Murhabazi. “I had just finished the washing the first time he came. A few Jeeps rolled up at the camp. An unarmed man climbed out of the Jeep with his arms in the air, and he said: ‘Amani leo!’, ‘Peace now!’. It was Murhabazi. He could easily have been killed, but he wasn't afraid,” Faida recalls. Murhabazi went up to the commandant and said that he was here to bring the children home. He said that children shouldn’t be soldiers, they should be going to school. “When the soldiers heard this they quickly hid us. I
tried to cry for help, but they pushed me into one of the houses.” The commandant refused to release the children, so Murhabazi had to leave empty-handed. But he didn't give up. A few years later he came back, but it ended in the same way. Third time lucky
When Faida had been held for four years, Murhabazi came again. And this time things were different. “I couldn't believe it when Murhabazi hugged me and said: ‘This is your chance! Everything’s going to be all right.’” And everything was all right at first. Faida got the chance to start school again at Murhabazi’s home for vulnerable girls. There were loads of children to play with and talk to. And adults you could trust, who were always there for her. She felt safe. Things went so well for Faida at the BVES school that she was soon able to go back to an ordinary school. Things started well there too. But Faida had trouble concentrating and she suffered mood swings. 115
“I could get so angry with my classmates when I felt that they didn't understand me.” In the end she couldn't cope any more and dropped out of school. Meanwhile Murhabazi had managed to find Faida’s mother. Faida was overjoyed but just like at school, things didn’t turn out as she had hoped. “Mum couldn't even look at me. She was afraid and didn't want anything to do with me. As though everything that had happened was my fault. I can't tell you how much that hurt.” Luckily, Murhabazi also managed to find Faida’s older sister Donia, who welcomed her with open arms. Faida is now part of her family. “And I’ve still got Murhabazi. Even if things aren’t that easy right now, I know that things will be OK because he is a part of my life. He’s like a father to me. Even though he was risking his own life, he still tried to save me not once, but THREE times! He is completely different to the commandant and other adults I’ve met, who just use children. Murhabazi is on our side. Always!”
School or sewing course? “Murhabazi wants me to learn to sew until I’ve recovered a bit and can start school again. So that I can learn a trade and to help take my mind off all the difficult things I’ve been through. And also so that I’ll be nearer him and the psychologists at BVES. But I’m not sure. It would be better if I could cope with continuing in an ordinary school. A good education gives you more opportunities in life. And I know that I can succeed, I know I’m smart!”
War against girls Girls and women are often the ones who end up suffering the most in war. Some 200,000 rapes have been reported since the war began, but many believe that a lot more women and girls have been exploited. In 2009, half of the victims were children. Those who survive the rapes often find it difficult to be accepted back into society as they are regarded as being ‘unclean’. Solidarity and love within families and villages is destroyed. Many of the victims are infected with the disease AIDS. “Murhabazi took me to hospital at once for an examination and HIV test. I was extremely lucky, because I hadn't been infected while I was with the soldiers. But a lot of other girls at the home are HIV positive,” recalls Faida. At the moment, 13 of the 68 girls who live at Murhabazi’s home for abused girls in Bukavu are HIV positive. Since 2002, 176 of the girls who were helped by BVES have died of AIDS. “We try to offer the girls who are HIV positive all the support we can, and make sure that they get free medication,” says Murhabazi.
Mutiya burns his uniform At Murhabazi’s boys’ home in Bukavu for former child soldiers, a group of boys is preparing to return home to their families to start a new life. But first they’re going to burn their old soldier’s uniforms. “It’s going to be just fantastic to swap my soldier’s uniform for a school uniform again,” says 15-year-old Mutiya. “
going to school, but they just laughed and said: ‘What’s so special about school? We don’t care, you’re coming with us anyway!’ Then the soldiers tore off our school uniforms, ripped them apart and trampled the rags into the mud. They took our school bags and tore up our books. After three days of being beaten at one of their prisons, we were given our soldier’s uniforms. Just a few days later, I was sent out to fight for the first time. Then I was trapped for two years. I survived, but five of my friends were killed. I saw so much death and blood.
Back then I never imagined that I would get to swap my soldier’s uniform for a school uniform. I had given up hope when Murhabazi saved my life. He came to the military camp and told us children who had been forced to become soldiers: ‘You shouldn’t be here. You’re going back to school again. Come with me.’ It felt unreal, but Murhabazi kept his word! I’ve started school again here at BVES. Now I’m going home to my older brothers, and I’m going back to school in the village. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me! But before we go we’re going to burn our old military uni-
Yes to school uniform! Before it’s time to burn the uniforms, the boys make signs. Mutiya writes ‘Yes to school uniform’ on his.
Murhabazi gathers the boys together before they go down to the courtyard where the uniform-burning ceremony will take place. They are wearing different uniforms, because all the various fighting groups in DR Congo use child soldiers. The boys at the home belonged to different armed groups. But here in the photos – for the boys’ own safety – they do NOT necessarily wear the uniform they used when they were soldiers. They may be wearing a uniform from a different fighting group to the one they themselves belonged to.
forms. The uniforms remind me of all the bad things: death, blood, war, looting... It’s going to feel just great to burn this rubbish, I will feel free afterwards. When I go back to the village I’m going to put my school uniform on instead. When I’m older I want to rescue children from armed groups, just like Murhabazi rescued me.” Mutiya, 15, spent 2 years as a child soldier
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: BO ÖHLÉN
e'd just finished our last lesson one Friday. My friend Mweusi and I were on our way home. We were telling each other stories as we walked. Suddenly there were three soldiers standing in front of us, aiming their machine guns at us. They said: ‘You can’t pass here! If you try and run we’ll shoot you on the spot!’ My parents had been killed by soldiers, so I was really frightened. We started crying and my friend wet himself. We begged them to let us go, said we were supposed to carry on
No more soldier’s uniform! “Look carefully at the sign now everyone. It says ‘No more soldier’s uniform’. You will never wear a soldier’s uniform again, you will have school uniforms, don’t ever forget that! Now we will burn the uniforms!” cries Murhabazi. Mutiya and the other boys start removing their military clothes with shouts of joy and applause and they put them in a pile in the courtyard.
! e m o h g n i o g We’re The big day has arrived. Murhabazi and BVES have managed to trace Mutiya’s family and the families of fifteen other boys. Now, finally, they’re going to return home after several years of war. “I’m so happy for the boys. This is what we’re fighting for all the time. Every time a child is saved and gets the chance to have a good life again it’s one more victory for us,” says Murhabazi, laughing.
Good luck! “Mutiya, you want to start school again and begin a new life. I know that you are well prepared and I wish you every happiness in the future!” says Murhabazi, and hugs Mutiya. “Thank you dad, thank you! I will pray for you to help you find the strength to carry on fighting,” replies Mutiya.
Murhabazi’s bag Each child who has been at one of Murhabazi’s homes gets a bag containing things that will make life a little easier when they go home to their families. The bag contains: Soap A toothbrush
A pair of shoes
New clothes Radio
Radio is important “I am giving you a radio so that you know what is happening in our country and around the world. It’s important. Listen to stations that broadcast news and that tell you about children’s rights. If you find a station that is preaching hatred, violence and war, change channels! The radio runs on solar energy so you don’t have to buy batteries.”
New dreams “I had given up hoping. But at BVES I got the chance to go back to school. I was so happy, although it made me think about all the time I had lost. Two years! Just think how much I could have learned during the time I spent as a soldier. Now I'm going to start at the school in my village, and in the future I want to be like Murhabazi!”
Uniforms go up in smoke Mutiya and his friends sing and cheer as the uniforms are destroyed in the fire.
Goodbye! We're going home now!
Goodbye friend!! The boys say goodbye to each other and to Murhabazi. They have become firm friends and helped each other through difficult times, so even though they’re longing to get home, it’s not easy to part.
Balls instead of bombs! “This is a really happy moment! My only worry is that new fighting will break out in the areas that the boys are returning to, and that they will be forced to become soldiers again. It happens, and it makes me so angry. It’s extremely tough, but we just start over every time it happens. One boy was taken three times, by three different armed groups. Each time we freed him. We never abandon the children, and we don’t give up until they’re all free,” says Murhabazi.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: BO ÖHLÉN
“The soldiers took the boys’ school uniforms and gave them soldier’s uniforms instead. And weapons instead of pens. Bombs instead of balls. But we give the boys footballs to take home with them. Those who live near each other can start a football team and carry on meeting and supporting each other. But most of all, they should have fun!” says Murhabazi.
We’re going h ome! Dreamed of school
“I really miss my friends at home. We haven’t seen each other for over four years, and I really hope they remember me. I also hope that they aren’t afraid of me now because I’ve been a soldier. I’m a bit worried about that. Because I’ve really missed my friends. Just being able to chat and play football and play. There was no place for laughter and play when I was a soldier.
“It was school that I missed most of all. When I was a soldier it always felt like I was in the wrong place, that I should be in school instead. Now Murhabazi is going to help me start school again when I get home, and it feels like a dream come true. I love school! School is important.
Misses his mother
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: BO ÖHLÉN
Longing for peace “When I was a soldier, there was war every day. Never peace. Apart from my mum and dad, it was peace that I missed most of all. I suffered all the time. It was terrible. I’m happy to finally be able to go home. I’m hoping that my life will be good now. That I’ll be able to go to school again and make lots of friends. But my parents are old and not very well. I’m afraid of what will happen to me when they die. When it happens I’ll contact Murhabazi straight away, because I know he’ll give me good advice. I love him, he saved my life. I'm going to miss him.” Amani, 15, spent 2 years as a child soldier
Military uniform – never again!
Wants to laugh and play
School gives you lots of opportunities in life. I’d like to be president when I grow up. The first thing I’d do would be to free all children who were forced to be soldiers. I would help them to find their families and let children start school again. My biggest fear now is that I will be taken by soldiers and forced to fight again. I would be devastated if that happened.” Assumani, 15, spent 2 years as a child soldier
“I’m longing to see my mum! I thought about her all the time during the war. I used to help her in the fields and fetch the water before I was forced to be a soldier. I was always worrying about how she would cope while I was away, because my dad died when I was little. I talk to my mum a lot, and I love her. I feel calm and safe when I’m with her. Now I just want to get home and be near her again. What worries me is leaving all my friends here. We’ve been able to talk to each other about our terrible experiences, and that’s been great. It won’t be like that at home. The boys in the village who haven’t been soldiers will never understand what I’ve been through.” Obedi, 15, spent 2 years as a child soldier
“I’m happy to be able to go home. It doesn’t matter what happens, if my friends are afraid of me or not, nothing scares me anymore. Nothing can be worse than what I experienced as a soldier. Nothing.” Aksanti, 15, 4 years as a child soldier
School – Yes! Military camp NEVER AGAIN!
Murhabazi never lets you down The idea is for the children freed by Murhabazi to stay at his centre for three months. But sometimes it takes longer to trace families and then help the children to start their new lives. That’s how it was for Bahati.
Dreams about good stones “The armed group that took me forced me to dig for gold, diamonds and other minerals. I had to give all the gemstones I found to my leaders. I was their slave. Those of us who had to dig tried to hide a bit, just a tiny bit, but it was difficult. If they found out, you got a severe beating. You might even be killed. When our group wasn’t digging, we attacked others who worked in the mines. I don't know how many people died. Then we used the gold and minerals to buy weapons from rich arms dealers who came out to the forests. I think that in the end, the war was about different groups, both Congolese and foreign, fighting for control of mines in DR Congo. If we didn’t have all these minerals, there would have been peace ages ago. Maybe there would never even have been a war. Now all the natural riches are bad for us. But really they should be good. If DR Congo’s government could sell the minerals properly, we could build schools, roads and hospitals. All the things that people need. I dream of such a day. I also dream of one day becoming a tailor and having a good life. And I believe I can do it, because Murhabazi and BVES are behind me.” Isaya, 15, spent 2 years as a child soldier
“Even though Murhabazi couldn’t find my parents after three months, he didn’t kick me out of the centre. Instead he took care of me for over a year, as though I were his own child. I still see him as my dad. After school at BVES, he helped me so that I could start going to an ordinary school. He paid my school fees and for everything else. And I told Murhabazi about my dream of becoming a journalism. Then he helped me and I got the chance to do a test for a journalist course for young people at the organisation Search for Common Ground. I passed the test and the course, and now I’m a youth reporter on their radio programme, ‘Sisi Watoto - We Children’! It’s probably the best programme in the world, because we talk about the most important issue there is, children’s rights. A lot of children call us and the whole idea behind the programme is to give a voice to the children of DR Congo. That’s unheard of here. Adults don’t usually listen to children at all here. “I’m hoping that I can help BVES to save more children in future, just like Murhabazi saved me. He saved my life.” Bahati, 17, 3 years as a child soldier “Every Saturday and Sunday at 5.30 in the evening I talk on the radio about children’s rights, mainly about how brutally girls are being exploited in the war in DR Congo,” says Bahati.
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“Murhabazi is like a father to me!” “One Sunday a year ago, my two sisters and I were in church when our village became a battleground between two rival groups. The soldiers were shooting with machine guns and they threw bombs right by the church, so we couldn’t get out. My whole body was shaking with fear. I didn’t know at the time that mum and dad were fleeing for their lives out in the forest. A few days later, when the shooting had ended, the Red Cross and UN came to the church and drove us to a refugee camp. I lived in the camp for five months. It was hard. The food was watered down and the mattresses were on the ground. And we didn’t get to go to school. One day Murhabazi came and asked if I wanted to live at his home for girls instead. I was overjoyed because I’d heard such good things about him. We went with him, 29 of us. I’m happy to be here and it feels like home now. Murhabazi looks after me like a father. But every night I dream that mum and dad are alive and that I can go home again. Murhabazi is still looking for my parents”. Valentina, 12
Valentina’s day at M Murhabazi’s home for vulnerable girls sits atop one of the hills in the city of Bukavu. Many of the girls were abducted by armed groups. 47 of the 68 girls who live here have been subjected to sexual assault. “I’m happy to be here and it feels like home now. Murhabazi has become like a father to me,” says Valentina, 12.
06.00 Time to get up “We brush our teeth and wash. We are given soap, toothpaste and hair and body oil here. I’ve lost my toothbrush and haven’t managed to get a new one yet, so I use my finger instead. It works quite well actually!” says Valentina, laughing.
08.00 Lessons “I didn’t go to school when I was living in the refugee camp. I know that it’s every child’s right to be allowed to go to school, even for those of us living with war and who are refugees. Suddenly I wasn’t able to, and it felt terrible. Like I’d lost time to learn important things. I was so happy the first day I got to go to school here at Murhabazi’s! You have to go to school if you want to learn things, so that you make good decisions in life and so that you can get a good job to support your family.” “When I’m older I want to learn to sew here at BVES and be a seamstress. But most of all I’d like to be a teacher. My teacher Ndamuso is not only my teacher, she’s also really kind and looks after me. She gives me advice, like a mother. I want to be like her when I’m older.” The girls who are too young to go to school go to nursery.
07.00 Breakfast Breakfast is a kind of maize flour porridge called Buyi.
12 noon Lunch Rice and beans on the menu today.
13.30 Rest It’s nice to rest for a bit during the hottest part of the day. The girl sharing Valentina’s bed is called Noella and she is ten years old. “There are often many children sharing the same bed. Sometimes it can be a bit of a squeeze, but at the same time it’s nice not to be on your own,” says Valentina.
at Murhabazi’s girls’ home 15.30 Laundry Valentina shares a wash-tub with Donatella.
14.30 Play “I love playing with my friends. You feel happy and it takes your mind off things. And you get to move about, use your muscles and get fit! We skip, do song and dance games and play different ball games.”
16.30 Homework “We often do our homework together so that we can help each other,” says Valentina.
18.00 Dinner Rice and beans for dinner as well.
“All my clothes are in a bag in the room.” “I wear the pretty white dress every Sunday when I go to church.”
“The nicest thing I have is my necklace with the Virgin Mary. When I'm wearing it I feel safe. Sort of like I'm protected.”
19.00 Evening assembly
“This yellow fleece top is my favourite!”
“Every evening we sit together and talk about our day. We sing and tell each other stories. The assemblies are really important to me, because they make me feel calm. I forget to think so much about where mum and dad are. During assemblies it feels like we’re a real family. We look after each other and the older ones take care of the younger ones. The adults here care about us. There’s always someone to listen when I’m feeling down. Murhabazi, my teacher, the nurse or the psychologist. Just like it should be in all families.”
20.00 Bedtime After brushing their teeth, the girls climb into their beds, snuggled up close, and go to sleep.
“I managed to take my clothes with me in a bag when I went to the refugee camp, and I'm really glad I did because I got my clothes from mum. I love my clothes. They are beautiful and they remind me of mum.”
Who is Murhabazi?
Three girls at the home for vulnerable girls describe Murhabazi:
He protects girls “I was kept prisoner by the soldiers and Murhabazi saved my life. It is Murhabazi who makes sure that we live in safety and security here. He gives us everything. Women and girls have a terrible time in our country. We suffer. Many are raped and abused by soldiers and other grown men. Murhabazi looks after us girls as though we were his own daughters or sisters. Many girls would have had a much worse time in DR Congo if it hadn’t been for Murhabazi. He protects us.” Donatella, 13
I love him! He is my father! “Murhabazi looks after me. He gives me a place to sleep, soap to wash, food to eat and a chance to go to school. And if I’m sick, he helps me to see a doctor. Murhabazi is just like a parent should be. He is like my father! My life would have been very difficult without him. I love him!” Josepha, 10
“My family was split up in the war because we became separated as we fled. Murhabazi and the Red Cross are still looking for my parents. I don’t even know if they’re still alive. But for the meantime, Murhabazi is my dad. I love him and I know that he loves me, because he helps me with everything. I’m always thinking of mum, dad and my brothers and sisters. Terrible things happened, but despite it all, life is a bit easier now that Murhabazi takes care of me.” Vestine, 15
Children in Murhabazi’s homes and schools
Sisters Benon, Vestine and Valentina live together at one of Murhabazi’s homes.
TEXT: ANDRE AS LÖNN PHOTOS: BO ÖHLÉN
There are 68 girls living at Murhabazi’s home for vulnerable girls in Bukavu. A further 297 girls come to the home during the day to attend the BVES school. They used to live at the home, but have now moved back to live with their families. “The families are often so poor that they can’t afford to send their children to ordinary schools. This school is free, and they can stay as long as they need to,” says Murhabazi. At the moment there are 71 boys at Murhabazi’s boys’ home in Bukavu for former child soldiers. Murhabazi has 35 homes and schools all over DR Congo. A total of 15,284 children are currently receiving some form of support from BVES. For example, 8,138 children receive help so they can go to ordinary schools, and 37 young people are being supported at university.
“In India, children held press conferences in about 20 cities to reveal the Decade Child Rights Heroes. The one in New Delhi was held in Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after he was murdered. The press conference began with performances.”
The children of Sweden held their World’s Children’s Press Conferences in 56 towns all over the country, and they led to 270 stories being featured in newspapers, radio, TV and online. In Stockholm, Rickard Jansson revealed that Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel had been voted Decade Child Rights Heroes. Majid Benachenhou and Louise Rosengren spoke about violations of the rights of the child in Sweden.
THE WORLD’S CHILDREN’S PRESS CONFERENCE?
PHOTOS: HARSHIT WALIA
Twice a year, you and your school friends can organise your World’s Children’s Press Conference: when the nominees are announced, and when the result of the Global Vote is revealed. Only children are allowed to speak! No-one over the age of 18 is allowed to be on the stage. Here’s what to do: • Hold your press conference at your school, or even better, in the most important building in your city, to show how important children, and their views, are. • Invite media representatives, and give plenty of notice. Send an invitation, but remember to also visit or phone the editorial ofﬁces. Remind all editorial staff the day before the press conference!
• If possible, begin and end your press conference with music, singing or dancing. • Start by telling the journalists some child rights facts for your country, and explain the improvements you want to see in terms of the rights of the child. You can also ask your politicians questions about the rights of the child, and present the results at the press conference. • If possible show the video, which you can order. • Reveal the three ﬁnal candidates, or the result of the Global Vote.
• End by handing out the latest press release from the World’s Children’s Prize. You can also give the journalists a child rights factsheet for your country. • Send any newspaper cuttings and details of coverage on radio or TV stations to the World’s Children’s Prize in Sweden.
Press conference dance.
“I am sorry to say that our society places greater value on sons than on daughters, who are often viewed as an economic burden. Are the rights of the child respected in India? We as children know this best!”
At www.worldschildrens prize.org you can find: Templates for invitations, questions for politicians, child rights factsheets, script hints, and the opportunity to order the video. There are also photos on the website, which the journalists can download.
If there are several Global Friend schools reaching out to the same media contacts, you should work together and hold a joint press conference. In that case, you could have one representative from every school on stage.
Welcome to the 10th Anniversary Ceremony
Lisa Bonongwe from Zimbabwe is on the World’s Children’s Prize Child Jury. She was one of two ‘Masters of Ceremony’, whose job it was to lead the 10th Anniversary Ceremony at Stockholm City Hall in Sweden.
Shobhna Jha performing a swirling Indian dance.
Decade Child Rights Hero “To be honoured by children is a very special tribute, because it is you the children of the world who are the reason for our work. You show amazing courage, vision, passion and commitment to making a better world. Madiba (Mandela) and I pledge here and now to work with you children of the world until we have a world that treasures its children, that respects and promotes their rights everywhere. Madiba says to you all children: I love you!” Some of the world’s greatest child rights heroes and former recipients of the World’s Children’s Prize came to the 10th Anniversary Ceremony, together with some of the young people they have helped. We pay tribute to
them, from left: Graça Machel, Déborah Macaringue, Mozambique, Asfaw Yemiru, Sosena Alemayehu, Ethiopia, Gail Johnson, Zintle Mqwayo, South Africa, Anuradha Koirala, Poonam Thapa, Nepal, Maggy Barankitse, Lydia Akimana, Burundi, James Aguer, Abuk Deng Garang, Sudan, Piromya Sathathai, Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, Thailand, Mofat Maninga, Judith Kondiek, Kenya, Betty Makoni, Alice Shuvai, Zimbabwe, Somaly Mam, Daly Ly, Srey Pov Chan, Cambodia, Josefina Condori Quispe, Maria Elena Achahui, Peru.
PHTOS: SOFIA MARCETIC, KIM NAYLOR & EWA STACKELBERG
Graça Machel, Decade Child Rights Hero, together with Nelson Mandela, receiving the award from Sweden’s Queen Silvia.
Kasm Kathakaarâ€™s dance troupe from India.
Ama Ambush Abantwana from South Africa opened the ceremony with a drumming and marimba performance.
Piromya Sathathai and Prateep Ungsongtham Hata from Thailand.
Maggy Barankitse and Lydia Akimana receive their medals.
Hanoi Theatre College from Vietnam played bamboo instruments and danced.
James Aguer and Abuk Deng Garang are honoured by the Queen.
Jury member Gabatshwane Gumede from South Africa sang a song to Decade Child Rights Heroes Nelson Mandela and GraĂ§a Machel.
Jury boy Mofat Maninga also represented the children that are helped by the Dunga Mothers in Kenya. He was presented with a medal by Queen Silvia. Tommy Rutten from the United States led the ceremony, together with Lisa from Zimbabwe. Tommy represented the voting children.
Judith Kondiek, Betty Makoni, Alice Shuvai, Somaly Mam, Daly Ly, Sreypao Chan, Josefina Condori Quispe and Maria Elena Achahue have been presented with medals and flowers by Queen Silvia.
Jury girl Poonam Thapa also represented those children who have been supported by Maiti Nepal, which was founded by Anuradha Koirala (on left).
A Brazilian traditional dance with small parasols. Ama Ambush Abantwana is a marimba band from Cape Town in South Africa.
Lilla Akademien’s Chamber Orchestra performed during the 10th Anniversary Ceremony. Every year, the World’s Children’s Prize Child Jury is involved in organising the award ceremony.
Thanks! Tack! Merci ! ¡Gracias! Obrigado! In Bangladesh: The Swallows, SASUS, Redwan-E-Jannat Benin: Juriste Echos Consult – Jeacques Bonou, Oumarou Tikada Brazil: Grupo Positivo (Portal Positivo, Portal Educacional and Portal Aprende Brasil), SEMEDSantarém (PA), 5a Unidade Regional de Educação/ SEDUC-PA, SME-Monte
Alegre (PA), SME-Juruti (PA), Projeto Rádio pela Educação/ Rádio Rural de Santarém, SME-São José dos Campos (SP), ONG Circo de Todo Mundo, Samuel Lago, Gilson Schwartz, Christiane Sampaio Burkina Faso: Art Consult et Développement, Malachie Dakuyo Burma: BMWEC, Community Schools Program, Eh Thwa Bor Burundi: Maison Shalom, Maggy Barankitse Cameroon: SOS Villages
d’Enfants Cameroun, Caroll Mikoly Gambia: Child Protection Alliance (CPA), Bakary Badjie Ghana: Ministry of Education, ATWWAR, Ekua Ansah Eshon, Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child, Unicef, VRA Schools Guinea Conakry: Ministère de l’Education, CAMUE Guinée, Oumar Kourouma, Unicef, Parlement des Enfants de Guinée Guinea Bissau: Ministério da Educação, AMIC,
Laudolino Medina, Fernando Cá Philippines: Lowel Bisenio 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 Kenya: Ministry of Education, Provincial Director of Education for both Western and Nyanza Provinces, CSO Network for Western and Nyanza Province, Betty Okero
Corpos e Tambores from Movimento Pró-Criança in Brazil.
“Dear children, With all my heart I would like to thank you. The rights of the child are so important! I share your demand for them to be respected. During its first ten years the World’s Children’s Prize has educated and empowered millions of children on their rights, and made it possible for them to voice their opinion on how these rights are to be respected. I must say that the World’s Children’s Prize do an outstanding job in promoting the rights of the child.” HRM Queen Silvia of Sweden In the final song, A World of Friends, the Spektrum Teens choir was assisted by the jury members and all the children who had performed during the ceremony.
Republic of Congo: ASUDH/ Gothia Cup Democratic Republic of the Congo: FORDESK, Tuzza Alonda, APEC, Damien Kwabene, APROJEDE, Amisi Musebengi Mauritania: Association des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs de la Mauritanie, Amadou Diallo Mexico: Secretaría de Desarollo Humano Gobierno de Jalisco, Gloria Lazcano Mozambique: Ministério da Educação e Cultura, SANTAC (Southern African Network Against Trafficking and Abuse of Children), Margarida Guitunga, Malica de Melo, FDC (Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da
Comunidade), Graça Machel Nepal: Maiti Nepal, Janeit Gurung Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Education, The Ministries of Education in Kogi State, Lagos State, Ogun State, and Oyo State, Unicef, Royaltimi Talents Network, Rotimi Samuel Aladetu, CHRINET, Children’s Rights Network, Moses Adedeji Pakistan: BLLFS, Mir Sarfraz, BRIC, PCDP Rwanda: AOCM, Bonaventure Senegal: Ministère de l’Education, Ministère de la Femme, de la Famille et du Développement Social, EDEN, Save the Children Sweden, Unicef
United Kingdom: The Children’s Rights Director for England, Roger Morgan, Oasis School of Human Relations, Zena Bernacca South Africa: Ministry of Education, National Department of Education, Eastern, North West Department of Education and Department of Social Development, Bojanala Platinum District Municipality and Department of Education, Marlene Winberg, Nadia Kamies, Vusi Setuke Thailand: Ministry of Education, Sunida Dechsen, Duang Prateep Foundation, Czech Republic: Vzajemne Souziti Uganda:
Uganda Local Governments Association, Gertrude Rose Gamwera, Wakiso District, BODCO, Nason Ndaireho, GUSCO, Louis Okello USA: World’s Children’s Prize US Inc, Margareta Anden Vietnam: Vietnam Committee for Population, Family and Children – CPFC, Voice of Vietnam – VOV Children’s Programme, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Ly Zimbabwe: Girl Child Network, Nyasha Mazango
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the 2011 world’s children’s prize jury AL Bwami OB N D L G IE Ngandu R F D. R . CON G O
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Amy Lloyd KINGDOM
Mofat Maninga K E N YA
AL OB N D Hamoodi L G IE Elsalameen FR PALESTINE
AL L is a OB N D L G IE Bonongwe R F ZIMBABWE
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Maria Elena Achahui
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AL Nuzhat OB N D L G IE Tabassum FR BANGLADESH
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Amar Lal INDIA
the world’s children’s prize for the rights of the child