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The rights of the child What is the World’s Children’s Prize? .... 4 Celebrate the rights of the child! ............. 8 How are the world’s children?................ 10 The award ceremony 2008 ..................... 12 Honorary prize laureates ......................... 14 Candidates for Decade Child Rights Hero ..................................... 15


WCPRC and the Global Vote

See Vote magazine



World’s Children’s Prize jury



Page 84 and Vote magazine pages 36–41


Gandhi votes Vote magazine page 2



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





Thanks! Tack!

Merci ! ¡Gracias! Obrigado!

HRM Queen Silvia of Sweden, Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), Swedish Postcode Lottery, Save the Children Sweden, Surve Family Foundation, Radiohjälpen, Axel & Sofia Alms Minne, Altor, AstraZeneca, Banco Fonder, eWork, Interoute, Kronprinsessan Margaretas Minnesfond, Folke Bernadotte Academy, Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse, Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen, Dahlströmska Stiftelsen and PunaMusta Oy. King Baudouin Foundation US, The ForeSight Group, Boob Design, Communication Works (South Africa), GiverSign & Linus Bille, Cordial, Markus Reklambyrå, Twitch Health Capital, Grenna Polkagriskokeri, Ågerups, Floristen i Mariefred, ICA Torghallen Mariefred, Centas, Euronics Strängnäs, Petter Ljunggren, Lilla Akademien, Gripsholms Värdshus, Gripsholms Slottsförvaltning, Gripsholmsvikens Hotell & Konferens, Grafikens Hus, Maria Printz & Printzens Matverk, Broccoli and Benninge Restaurangskola. The prize jury. All the children, young people and teachers at Global Friend schools. All Honorary Adult Friends, Adult Friends and cooperation partners. The board and advisory board of the World’s Children’s Prize Foundation and the board of Children’s World. IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems).

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In Bangladesh: Svalorna/The Swallows, SASUS Benin: Juriste Echos Consult Brazil: Grupo Positivo (Portal Positivo, Portal Educacional, Portal Aprende Brasil), SEMED-Santarém (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), SME-Balsa Nova (PR), SME-Rio Branco do Sul (PR) Comitê para a Democratização da Informática do Paraná, ONG Circo de Todo Mundo, Oficina de Imagens, Christiane Sampaio Burkina Faso: Art Consult et Développement Burma: BMWEC, Community Schools Program Burundi: Maison Shalom Cameroon: SOS Villages d’Enfants Cameroun, Plan Cameroun Congo Brazzaville: ASUDH/Gothia Cup Congo Kinshasa: FORDESK, APEC, APROJEDE Czech Republic: Vzajemne Souziti Gambia: Child Protection Alliance (CPA) Ghana: Ministry of Education, ATWWAR – Ekua Ansah Eshon, Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), Unicef, VRA Schools Guinea Conakry: Ministère de l’Education, CAMUE Guinée, Parlement des Enfants de Guinée Guinea Bissau: Ministério da Educação Nacional, AMIC 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 Western and Nyanza Provinces, CSO Network for Western and Nyanza Province – Betty Okero Mauritania: Association des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs de la Mauritanie Mexico: Secretaría de Desarollo Humano Gobierno de Jalisco – Gloria Lazcano Mozambique: Ministério da Educação e Cultura, SANTAC

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Global Vote! Thanks cow!






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Global Vot 2009: e 15 Apr i 25 Oct l – ober





Världsomröstning Votación Mundial Vote Mondial Votação Mundial


31–35 36–40 41–45 46–50





Banana leaf ball


Page 72

My wardrobe

Plastic bag ball

Vote magazine page 5

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Sock ball Page 53 (Southern African Network Against Trafficking and Abuse of Children), Graça Machel Nepal: Maiti Nepal 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, BRIC, PCDP Philippines: Lowel Bisenio Rwanda: AOCM Senegal: Ministère de l’Education, Ministère de la Femme, de la Famille et du Développement Social, EDEN – Lamine Gaye, Save the Children Sweden, Unicef South Africa: Ministry of Education, National Department of Education, Eastern, Western and Northern Cape Departments of Education, North West Department of Education and Department of Social Development, Bojanala Platinum District Municipality and Department of Education, Qumbu District of Education, Marlene Winberg Thailand: Ministry of Education, Duang Prateep Foundation Uganda: Uganda Local Governments Association – Gertrude Rose Gamwera, Wakiso District, BODCO, GUSCO UK: The Children’s Rights Director for England – Roger Morgan, Oasis School of Human Relations Vietnam: Vietnam Committee for Population, Family and Children – CPFC, Voice of Vietnam – VOV Children’s Programme, Nguyen T.N. Ly, Save the Children Sweden Zimbabwe: Girl Child Network


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Newspaper ball Page 78

64–68 69–73 74–78 79–83


GLOBEN is published with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Save the Children Sweden and others.

Box 150, 647 24 Mariefred, Sweden Tel. +46-159-12900 Fax +46-159-10860 e-mail: prize@worldschildrensprize.org www.worldschildrensprize.org

Editor-in-chief and legally responsible publisher: Magnus Bergmar Contributors to issue 50–51: Andreas Lönn, Paul Blomgren, Johanna Hallin, Tora Mårtens, Ragna Jorming, Carmilla Floyd, Gunilla Hamne, Kim Naylor, Annika Forsberg Langa, Sofi a Klemming, Elin Berge, Mark Vuori, Louise Gubb, Bo Öhlén, Göte Winberg Illustrations & maps: Jan-Åke Winqvist, Lotta Mellgren, Karin Södergren Design: Fidelity Translation: Tamarind (English, Spanish), Cinzia Gueniat (French), Glenda Kölbrant (Portuguese), JaneVejjajiva (Thai), Preeti Shankar (Hindi), M.A Jeyaraju (Tamil), Tran Thi Van Anh (Viet). The magazine is also available in Swedish, Arabic and Farsi (Persian). Cover photo: Paul Blomgren Repro: Done Printing: PunaMusta Oy ISSN 1102-8343

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Your prize for your rights Hello Global Friend! The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC) belongs to you and all the other children and young people under 18 in the world! Your school (or group) is one of almost 50,000 Global Friend schools with 22 million students in 94 countries. And that number is growing fast. This year is the tenth WCPRC. We’re celebrating by voting for the children’s Decade Child Rights Hero in a Decade Global Vote. The 2009 WCPRC period is from 15 April – 25 October. On 20 November, the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, you and children all over the world will reveal which of the 13 candidates is your Decade Hero!


n the year 2000, the Montessori Droppen school in the Swedish city of Haparanda became the fi rst Global Friend school. It is also the most northerly Global Friend school in the world. The school playground is covered by a thick blanket of snow


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for half the year. During their breaks, the children make snowballs and throw them at each other. The second Global Friend school that was registered in 2000 has as much sand as the fi rst has snow. The fighting that the children at Gacomo Dheer school in Somalia, Africa have experienced is nothing like the snowball fights of the children in Haparanda. It’s a real war, with grenades and landmines. World’s Children’s Prize in all subjects The 13 candidates for the children’s Decade Hero are the people and organisations who have received the voting children’s Global Friends’ Award or the jury children’s


Global Vote in Nigeria.

World’s Children’s Prize during the fi rst nine years of the WCPRC, 2000-2008. There is even more information on the candidates and on the children they fight for at www.worlds childrensprize.org. This year’s WCPRC period is different from usual. It runs from 15 April to 25 October. You can decide when to have your Global Vote Day, but here are a few particularly suitable dates: • 15 September: UN International Day of Democracy • 21 September: UN International Day of Peace • 5 October: UN International Children’s Day • 24 October: International UN Day

The children who participate in the WCPRC are change makers, and they are active in ensuring greater respect for the rights of the child. In the vote magazine, lots of children explain how they want things to be. On page 42, James in Ghana says

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Many schools work on the World’s Children’s Prize for weeks or months, and in several different subjects – even maths! It’s a good idea to study the rights of the child and the prize in this order: 1. The rights of the child in your country Start by learning more about the rights of the child, with help from the prize magazine (pages 8-11) and www. worldschildrensprize.org. If you live in a country where there are lots of Global Friend schools you’ll receive a fact sheet on the situation for the rights of the child in your country along with the prize magazine. “Thanks to The Globe magazine I’ve learned about my rights. I wish all the child­ren in the world took part in the Global Vote every year. I know that many adults in my country don’t know that the rights of the child exist,” says Massala in Congo Brazzaville. “We have to teach the adults about our rights,” says Adou in Ivory Coast. Koffi in Ivory Coast doesn’t trust adults: “We children have to fight for our rights – we don’t get

them for free. I don’t understand why adults don’t respect the rights of the child.” “I would like there to be a government minister for us children, a child minister, who would make sure our rights are respected,” says Coumba in Senegal. “Many adults don’t believe that children can have views on things like school and society,” says Carine in Brazil. Aishwarya in India agrees with her: “Adults underestimate us. We should be able to express our opinions, just like in the WCPRC. The world’s children are its best hope for development.” Are the rights of the child respected in your life? At home? At school? Where you live and in your country? Do politicians listen to children? What needs to change? Do adults treat children well? If not, what needs to change? How can you and your friends tell people – your parents, teachers, politicians, journalists and other adults – that the rights of the child are not respected, and how things should be? Ayanda in South Africa knows what he wants to say: “You adults have to treat

Montessori Droppen school in Haparanda, Sweden was the first Global Friend school in the year 2000. Today there are almost 50,000 Global Friend schools.

“the cane is king in my school”. Corporal punishment is banned in 23 countries. What about your country? Write to WCPRC at prize@worldschildrensprize.org to tell us how things are in your home and your school, and what you think about it. Entrants have a chance of winning a WCPRC t-shirt and Gabatshwane CD.

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Global Vote in D.R. Congo.

me the way that you wanted to be treated when you were children!” 2. The rights of the child in the world In the vote magazine, you can read more about what children and young people in different countries think about the rights of the child and about the World’s Children’s Prize and the Global Vote. You can also learn a lot about the rights of the child all over the world by reading about the life experiences of the jury children (see Bwami’s story on pages 36- 41 of the vote magazine, and the stories of all the jury children at www. worldschildrensprize.org). 3. Find out about the candidates When you have found out about and discussed the rights of the child, it’s time to meet this year’s prize candidates and the children they fight for. On pages

Gacomo Dheer school in Somalia was the second Global Friend school.

16–83 here in the prize magazine you can get to know all the candidates and the children for whom they fight for a better life. As you’re sure to see straight away, all the prize candidates have all done fantastic things for children. And the children and young people’s thoughts and feelings are just like yours would be if you 5

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Global Vote for children in India who were orphaned by the tsunami.

IMPORTANT! Not a competition!


The WCPRC and the Global Vote is not a competition. All candidates have made fantastic contributions to the rights of the child, and will be honoured for that at the award ceremony.

had experienced the same things. They are just like you. You might read the prize magazine as homework. You might put on an exhibition or a play about the prize candidates and the rights of the child. Perhaps you can ‘travel’ to the candidates’ countries as reporters. Your teacher can get more ideas about what you can do with the WCPRC from the Teachers’ Guide and the teachers’ section of the prize website. To be able to make a fair choice, you need to know the same amount about all the candidates, their work and the children they fight for! Normally, three prizes are awarded: The Global Friends’ Award, which is a prize from you and all the other voting children. In the fi rst Global Vote in 2001, 19,000 children voted. In 2008, 6.6 million children voted.

The World’s Children’s Prize is the jury children’s prize. The World’s Children’s Honorary Award goes to the prize candidate(s) who do not receive either of the other two prizes. In 2009, instead of the usual prizes, there will be an award for the Decade Child Rights Hero. 3. Prepare and carry out your Global Vote Day After learning about all the candidates, some schools make election posters and hold speeches. Since the Global Vote is your vote, it’s important that you children and young people are involved in organising it. You can read about Global Votes all over the world in the vote magazine. In order to have a democratic Global Vote, you need:

Meena votes in the Global Vote in the Thar Desert in Pakistan.

• Voting register. A list of everyone who has a right to vote in your Global Vote. • Ballot papers. Cut out the ballot papers from your package. If there are not enough, photocopy the examples on the last page of the vote magazine. You can also make your own ballot papers. If you don’t have enough paper, each voter could write a number from 1 to 13 for his or her candidate on a scrap of paper. • Voting booth. So that no one can see how you vote. • Ballot box. All the ballot papers should be put in the same ballot box. You should not have a ballot box for each candidate, because then everyone can see who people are voting for. • Paint to prevent cheating. Either tick off names on the voting register, or mark each person’s fi nger with paint after they have placed their vote in the ballot box. • Election supervisors. Tick off voters on the voting register and give out voting slips. • Voting observers. Oversee the voting and the vote count, and check that all who have voted get a paint mark. • Vote counters. Count the votes and send in the results. Global Vote Day Decide on a date for your Global Vote in good time. In

South Africa, Mexico and Brazil, for example, whole school districts have chosen the same Global Vote Day for all schools. Some countries are considering introducing a national Global Vote Day. Now you are experts on the rights of the child, who know how to demand respect for those rights. You know all about the prize candidates and the children they fight for. You also know all about your prizes, and about how a democratic Global Vote works. Good luck with your Global Vote Day! Report back to the WCPRC– say how everything went and what you think about the rights of the child, the WCPRC and the Global Vote. Invite the press Don’t forget to invite the press, radio and TV to come along to your Global Vote Day! Tell the journalists about the rights of the child and how they should be respected more. Explain the WCPRC and the work of the candidates. Send newspaper clippings in to WCPRC and tell us about what you did. Time to celebrate! Your Global Vote Day is an important day. Don’t forget to celebrate it! In the Thar Desert in Pakistan the students celebrate their Global Vote as the sun sets with dancing, tea and biscuits. In Santarém, Brazil they hold a dance performance and eat acai, the fruit of the Amazon. In Sweden, cakes decorated with the WCPRC’s rainbow children are often served. Report the results of your vote for all candidates Don’t forget to report your school’s results for all 13


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

candidates by 25 October. All the votes cast all over world are added together. You can put the results of your vote into the ballot box at www.worldschildrensprize.org, email them to prize@worldschildrens prize.org, fax them to +46 159 108 60 or post them to WCPRC, Box 150, 647 24 Mariefred, Sweden. In some countries, schools report the results of their Global Vote to a coordinator in their country. The award ceremony 2010 On 20 November, children all over the world will reveal who their Decade Child

Rights Hero is. If you want to know the results, check out www.worldschildrensprize.org. The award ceremony always takes place in mid-April, in memory of Iqbal Masih from Pakistan, the fi rst winner of the WCPRC, who was killed on 16 April 1995. The Decade Hero will receive their prize in April 2010. 5. Demand respect! When your country has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which all countries except Somalia and the USA have done, your country has committed to doing all it

can to ensure that the rights of the child are respected. Your country must also inform its people, adults and children, about the rights of the child, on an ongoing basis. The WCPRC helps your country to do this. Now that you are experts on the rights of the child, you can remind and teach adults about the rights of the child, at home, in school, and with journalists and politicians. You can also express your demands for respect for the rights of the child! Do let your parents read this magazine.

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

The international child jury in 2008, with Queen Silvia of Sweden after the prize ceremony.

Each child on the jury represents all the children in the world who have experienced similar violations of, or struggles for, the rights of the child. You can learn about the different parts of the rights of the child by reading about the jury children in the vote magazine or at www.worldschildrensprize.org. It’s hard to become a member of the jury. Millions of children all over the world must be able to experience and learn from each jury member’s life. That’s why it is your experience of violations of the rights of the child, or your fight for those rights to be respected, and your story about this, which determines whether you can join the jury. The jury children must also, if possible, represent all continents and all major religions.

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

Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Honorary Adult Friend Nelson Mandela smiles as he reads the cartoon of his life in The Globe.


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Celebrate the rights of t The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Child Convention) consists of 54 articles. We have summarised a few of them here. 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.

 illustr ation : lot ta mellgren/ester

Article 2 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. Article 3 Those who make decisions affecting children must put the interests of the children first.

Article 6 You have the right to life and the right to develop. Article 7 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. Articles 12–15 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.

Article 18 Your parents are jointly responsible for your upbringing and development. They must always put your interests first. Article 19 You have the right to protection 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.


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20 November is a day of celebration for all the children in the world. It was on that day in 1989 that the UN adopted the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, which has its 20th anniversary this year! It is known as the CHILD CONVENTION and 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 Child Convention. This means they are obliged to take children’s rights into consideration and to listen to what children have to say.

I demand respect for the rights of the child!

f the child Article 22 If you have been forced to leave your country you have the same rights as all the other children in your new country. If you are alone you have the right to special protection and help. If possible you should be reunited with your family. Article 23 All children have the right to a 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.

Article 31 You have the right to play, rest and free time, and the right to live in a healthy environment. Article 32 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. Article 35 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.


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How are the wor Survive and grow

2.2 BILLION CHILDREN UNDER 18 IN THE WORLD 80 million of these children live in Somalia and the USA, the two countries that have not agreed to honour the rights of the child. All other countries have promised to uphold the rights of the child.

Name and nationality From the day you are born you have the right to have a name and to be registered as a citizen of your home country. Every year, 136 million children are born. Around 48 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 14 children (1 in 7 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 25,000 children under the age of 5 die (9.2 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 3 million lives a year. But 1 in 5 children is never vaccinated. Every year, 1.4 million children die of diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. 6 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 1 in 3 of these children are treated for malaria and only 1 in 4 children in 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 world’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 110 million children with disabilities in the world.


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Children who live on the street

Crime and punishment

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

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

Hazardous child labour You have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and work that is hazardous to your health or that prevents you from going to school. All work is prohibited for children under 12. Around 240 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work, and for 3 out of 4 of them, this work is harmful to their safety or health. Some 8 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.

Protection from violence You have the right to protection from all forms of violence, neglect, maltreatment and abuse. Every year 40 million children are beaten so badly that they need medical care. 23 countries have forbidden all forms of corporal punishment for children, so only 3 out of 100 children are fully protected from violence by law. Many countries still allow corporal punishment in schools.

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

You have the right to protection and care in times of war or if you are a refugee. Children affected by conflict and refugee children have the same rights as other children. Over the last 15 years at least 2 million children have been killed in war. 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 children have been used as soldiers, carriers or mine clearers (2500 children are killed or injured by mines every year). At least 25 million children have had to flee their homes or countries.

School and education You have the right to go to school. Primary and secondary schooling should be free for everyone. More than 8 out of 10 children in the world go to school, but there are still 101 million children who get no education whatsoever. 150 million children leave school before the fifth grade.

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


orld’s children?

Protection in war and flight


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Queen Silvia and the members of the child jury watch as Hanoi College of Art from Vietnam perform a lion dance, at the prize ceremony at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden.

6.6 million voting children’s prize

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


SOMALY MAM 6,593,335 young people under 18 took part in the 2008 Global Vote and selected Somaly Mam of Cambodia as their prize laureate. After having been a sex slave as a child, Somaly has spent the last 13 years liberating girls from sex slavery and giving them rehabilitation and education. The international child jury chose to give their prize to Somaly too. Queen Silvia of Sweden presented the Global Friends’ Award and World’s Children’s Prize to Somaly Mam, who was joined on stage by Sina Van and Sry Pov Chan.


JOSEFINA CONDORI Queen Silvia applauds Josefina Condori, who received the World’s Children’s Honorary Award, accompanied by Luz Garda and Sayda Teran. Josefina was awarded for her 15-year struggle for girls in Peru who work as maids, often in slave-like conditions.


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EREMONY 2008  photos: ELIN BERGE

Umbono from South Africa performed at the prize ceremony. Jury members Nga Thai Thi, Vietnam, Laury Petano, Colombia, Maïmouna Diouf, Senegal and Rebeka Aktar, Bangladesh along with Tommy Rutten, USA, who represented 6.6 million voting children at the ceremony.

During the ceremony, when the jury children demanded respect for the rights of the child, Queen Silvia said: “I too demand respect for the rights of the child!” Queen Silvia continued, “This is a very important cere­ mony, almost like a children’s Nobel prize ceremony.”

Hanoi College of Art performed.

Omar Bandak of Palestine and Ofek Rafeli of Israel are members of the inter­ national child jury.

The World’s Children’s Honorary Award

Agnes Stevens Agnes Stevens was joined on stage by Ed Korpie and Brianna Audinett when she received the World’s Children’s Honorary Award from Queen Silvia. Agnes was awarded because, through her organisation School on Wheels, she has been fighting for the rights of over a million homeless children in the USA for 20 years. 13

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8 0 0 2 – 0 200

World’s Children’s Honorary Award Since the start of the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child in 2000, 14 prize laureates have been awarded the World’s Children’s Honorary Award for their amazing efforts to protect children’s rights. These people are not included in the vote for WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009. You can read more about the honorary prize laureates’ work to protect children at www.worldschildrensprize.org.

Anne Frank

Hector Pieterson

Barefoot College

Children’s Peace Movement



In the first year, three children from the billions who had their rights violated during the 20th century were honoured posthumously. The two honorary prize winners were Anne Frank, Holland, and Hector Pieterson, South Africa. Anne Frank died in a German concentration camp in March 1945. Hector Pieterson was shot dead at the age of 12 in Soweto in South Africa, on 16 June 1976.

Ana María Marañon de Bohorquez, Bolivia, who for almost 25 years has fought for children living on the streets of Cochabamba.


Casa Allianza

Pastoral da Criança

Paul and Mercy Baskar

Ana María Marañon de Bohorquez

Liz Gaynes, Emani Davis

Jetsun Pema

Barefoot College, India, for their 35-year pioneering efforts, including their creation of a Children’s Parliament and evening schools in Rajasthan.

Josefina Condori

Inderjit Khurana

Agnes Stevens

Jetsun Pema, Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s sister has been working for the rights of refugee children for almost 45 years.

2007 Cynthia Maung, Burma, who has fought for the health and education of hundreds of thousands of refugee children for 20 years, both under the military dictatorship in Burma and in refugee camps in Thailand.

Children’s Peace Movement, Colombia, which helps children campaign against the war and runs activities to bring happiness to children.

Inderjit Khurana, India, who has been running over a hundred schools and two telephone helplines for 23 years, helping some of India’s poorest children – those who live and work on station platforms.



Casa Allianza, Central America, which works for children who live on the street.

Josefina Condori, Peru, who for 15 years has been fighting for girls who work as maids, often under slavelike conditions.

2003 Pastoral da Criança’s 155,000 volunteers, Brazil, which works to reduce infant mortality and malnutrition among poor children.

Cynthia Maung



Agnes Stevens, USA, who together with her organisation, School on Wheels, has been fighting for the rights of homeless children in the USA for the past 20 years.

Paul and Mercy Baskar, India, who for 25 years have fought against hazardous child labour. Liz Gaynes and Emani Davis, USA, who for 25 years have worked defending the rights of children of prisoners.


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There are 13 candidates for the WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009, who will be awarded in the Decade Global Vote, which is from 15 April – 25 October 2009. On 20 November, the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children all around the world will reveal the name of their Decade Hero. The stories of the candidates and the children they fight for are taken from the year that the candidate received the Global Friends’ Award from the voting children, or the jury members’ World’s Children’s Prize. So the children are older today than they were in the stories. You can read more about the prize candidates and the children they fight for at www.worldschildrensprize.org.

Candidates for the WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 2000


Iqbal Masih, Pakistan (posthumously). Iqbal was a debt slave in a carpet factory. He was honoured for his fight for the rights of child debt slaves. He was murdered on 16 April, 1995. Pages 16–20

Maggy Barankitse, Burundi, who has, over 15 years, saved tens of thousands of orphaned children in wartorn Burundi and given them a home, love, schooling and a hospital. Pages 36–40


James Aguer, Sudan. James has, over 20 years, freed thousands of kidnapped children from slave work in Sudan. James has been imprisoned 33 times and four of his colleagues have been murdered. Pages 41–45

Asfaw Yemiru, Ethiopia. Asfaw was a street child at the age of 9. At 14, he opened his first school for street children underneath an oak tree. Since then he has devoted over 50 years to giving underprivileged children the chance to go to school. Pages 21–25

2002 Nkosi Johnson, South Africa (posthumously). Nkosi fought for the rights of children suffering from HIV and AIDS up until the time of his death at the age of 12. Pages 26–30 Maiti Nepal. Maiti fights the trafficking of poor girls from Nepal to India where they are forced to work as slaves in brothels, and helps girls who have been affected by trafficking. Pages 31–35

2004 Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, Thailand. Prateep was a child worker at the age of ten. Since starting her first school at the age of 16, she has spent 40 years fighting to give the neediest children the chance to go to school. Pages 46–50

2005 Dunga Mothers, Kenya. Twenty mothers in Kenya, who for the past 12 years have been fighting to enable AIDS orphans to go to school, have a home, food, love and have their own rights respected. Pages 51–55

Nelson Mandela, South Africa, Graça Machel, Mozambique. Mandela for his life-long struggle for equal rights for all children in South Africa and his work to defend their rights. Machel for her 25-year-long fight for the rights of vulnerable children in Mozambique, in particular for girls’ rights. Pages 56–63

Iqbal Masih

Asfaw Yemiru

Nkosi Johnson

Maiti Nepal

Maggy Barankitse

James Aguer

Prateep Ungsongtham Hata

Dunga Mothers

Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel

Craig Kielburger


Betty Makoni

2006 Craig Kielburger, Canada. At the age of 12, Craig founded Free The Children. He fights for young people’s right to make their voices heard and to liberate child­ ren from poverty and violations of their rights. Pages 64–68 AOCM, Rwanda. AOCM consists of 6,000 people orphaned by the genocide in Rwanda, who help each other to survive by sharing food, clothes, schooling, homes, healthcare and love. Pages 69–73

2007 Betty Makoni, Zimbabwe. Through the Girl Child Network, Betty empowers girls to demand their rights, supports those who are exposed to abuse and protects others from assault, forced marriage and trafficking. Pages 74–78

Somaly Mam

2008 Somaly Mam, Cambodia. After being a sex slave as a child, Somaly has spent the last 13 years liberating girls from sex slavery and giving them rehabilitation and education. She was punished for her work when her 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped, drugged, raped and sold to a brothel. Pages 79–83


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NOMINEE • Pages 16 – 20

Iqbal Masih WHY IS IQBAL A NOMINEE? Iqbal Masih, Pakistan, has been nominated posthumously (after his death) as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009, for his struggle for the rights of debt slave children. Iqbal became a debt slave at an early age, for the owner of a carpet factory who then sold him on. Iqbal was probably 5 or 6 when he started working in the carpet factory. He worked from early morning until evening and was often treated badly. Five years later, he was liberated from debt slavery. He started attending the Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) school. Iqbal talked to his friends who worked at carpet factories and spoke at meetings. He gave many carpet worker children the courage to leave their owners. The owners threatened Iqbal who, after receiving an award in the USA, was murdered on 16 April 1995. He has become a symbol for the fight against harmful child labour all over the world.

Iqbal Masih became a debt slave in a carpet factory in Pakistan when he was a child. Five years later he was set free. He gave other children the courage to leave their owners. Iqbal was threatened by the carpet factory owners and was murdered on 16 April 1995. He is a symbol for the struggle against child labour and in 2000, he received the first World’s Children’s Prize posthumously (after his death). The prize has another name in memory of Iqbal: the Iqbal Masih Award.


qbal is about five years old when he has his fi rst working day in the carpet factory. Later, when his mother Anayat needs money for an operation, she takes out a loan from a carpet factory owner called Ghullah. The loan, or ‘peshgi’, is in Iqbal’s name. That means that Iqbal owes Ghullah the 5000 rupees (100 US dollars) that his mother’s operation cost. Now Iqbal is a

debt slave and Ghullah is in charge of his life. When Iqbal gets home from the carpet factory in the evenings, he collapses into bed and falls asleep. Sometimes Ghullah wakes him around midnight. “We have a carpet delivery that has to be fi nished. Come on, get up.” The peshgi debt means that Iqbal has to go with Ghullah, who drags a sleepy

Iqbal through the narrow streets to the carpet factory. If Iqbal falls asleep at work, he is woken up by a blow from the carpet fork. Iqbal runs away One day, a little boy in the carpet factory has a high fever. Ghullah, the owner, ties the boy’s feet together and hangs him upside down from the fan on the ceiling. “I’m the one who decides when you work,” roars Ghullah. In that instant, Iqbal decides he’s had enough. He starts to run away from work as often as he can. Iqbal and his friends take the chance to run away when Ghullah isn’t there. They

“Children should have pens in their hands, not tools,” is what Iqbal used to say.

Iqbal often spoke at meetings in front of adults and children.

In the year 2000, Iqbal received the first World’s Children’s Prize, which will always have another name, in his memory: the Iqbal Masih Award.


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Iqbal wanted to be a lawyer and free the children in the carpet factories.

play all day without worrying about what awaits them. The next morning, Ghullah comes to their homes to get them. He’s furious, and he beats the boys with a carpet fork or whatever is within reach. Then he chains them up. Sometimes two days pass before he releases them again.

Finally free! Early one morning in October 1992, Iqbal runs away from work. He jumps onto the back of a tractor, where many adults and children are already sitting. One hour later, they arrive at a BLLF meeting. This is the fi rst time Iqbal sees the leader of BLLF,

Iqbal with one of his many friends in Sweden.

Ehsan Ullah Khan. He listens with interest when Ehsan talks about the law against debt slavery. Ehsan asks Iqbal to tell the other children about his experiences. At fi rst Iqbal doesn’t dare, but then he steps up to the microphone. Ehsan gives Iqbal a ‘freedom letter’. On it is written the law that bans debt slavery and the sentence for people who use debt slaves. The problem in Pakistan is that people don’t obey the law, and the police and courts often help factory owners rather than poor people. Ghullah refuses to let Iqbal leave the carpet factory. But Ehsan doesn’t forget the little boy, and he asks some of his colleagues to fi nd out more and help Iqbal to freedom. Iqbal is delighted to be able to start attending ‘Our own school’, as the BLLF school for former debt slaves is called. He tells his friends

Iqbal threatened Iqbal now lives in Lahore with BLLF. The fi rst time he comes home to visit, Ghullah the owner of the carpet factory says: “You have to come back to work. Then the other children will come back too.” But Iqbal refuses. Another carpet maker threatens Iqbal’s mother. He says he’ll kidnap her and Iqbal if Iqbal doesn’t return to work or pay off the debt that made him a debt slave. A third carpet maker says to Iqbal’s little sister Sobia: “Your brother walks about like a judge in the streets when he comes home. But one day we’ll get him.” “Shut up old man,” says Sobia, who has never dared to be rude to an adult before. “Watch out or we’ll kill you too,” replies the carpet maker.


and children in other carpet factories that they don’t have to stay with their owners any longer. In the Muridke area, children start leaving carpet factories in their hundreds and thousands. Iqbal speaks at meetings. He always ends his speeches by saying: “We are…” And all the children respond: “FREE!”

Iqbal murdered In October 1994, Iqbal visits Sweden. He tells school children about how life is for debt slave children in Pakistan. Many newspapers write about him, and he is featured on lots of TV programmes. In December Iqbal was beaten with a carpet fork and chained up when he tried to escape, but he still kept trying.


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This is an extract from the comic strip “Iqbal, the little carpet boy” by Magnus Bergmar and Jan-Åke Winqvist. You can read the entire comic strip at www. worldschildrensprize.org.

Let this be as lesson to you others, also!

The doctor has said that I must have an operation, but I don’t have any money.

Iqbal warms up with a scarf at school in the winter.

1994, Iqbal flies to the USA, where he is given an award by Reebok for fighting for the rights of debt slave children. Iqbal is also ‘Person of the week’ at one of the USA’s largest TV companies. Iqbal returns to Pakistan. On the morning of Easter Sunday, 16 April 1995, he takes the bus home to Muridke. That evening he joins his relatives Lyaqat and Faryad Masih, who are taking food to Lyaqat’s father who is watering his fields. All three of them sit on the same bike. It is eight o’clock and it’s dark. When the boys are half way there, they hear two gunshots, which kill Iqbal. Faryad can’t write, so on the night of the murder, he has to put his thumbprint at the bottom of a blank piece of paper. Then the police write whatever they like and claim that Faryad has signed the paper to say that it is true.

Hurry up, Shafiq. The match will begin soon!

Here, it’s me who decides!

But I’m working mother. Isn’t my money enough?

No. I have to ask Ghulla for peshgi!

Night falls. The first day of work is finished...

Gullah. I have to have an operation and buy medicine. Can I get peshgi for Iqbal?

Over the next years Iqbal would work 12 hours per day, 6 days a week.

Peshgi is that debt which causes Iqbal to become a debt-slave with Ghullah. Here is 6,000 rupies!

It is Friday, the boys’ only free day. Two teams have gathered in the open space between the canal and the houses. Iqbal has looked forward to this cricket match for an entire week...

Each group collects money.

Winner takes all.

Iqbal, Shafiq and Rafiq, come and work! We have a carpet that has to be finished!

In the middle of the night, Ghullah comes to Iqbal’s house and drags him out of bed...

Even though it is their free day the boys cannot refuse. They are debt slaves and Ghulla decides...

..He needs to sleep!

That can wait! We must get the job finished!

Brother, would you like to play?

...but today there is not to be a match for Iqbal...

No Sobia. I’m too tired...

Iqbal, the peshgi means that I must allow him to take you!


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e tch

Iqbal is so tired that he falls asleep...

The next morning Ghullah gets Iqbal at his home...

The next morning, a poor farmer called Ashraf Hero is arrested and accused of murdering Iqbal. The police torture him. They hang him upside down from the ceiling and beat him with sticks and leather belts. “You’re going to say that you killed that boy Iqbal and say whatever we tell you to. Or else we’ll kill you and your whole family. You’re poor and worthless. No one cares what we do with you,” say the police.

As punishment for running away, the children are chained...

Iqbal thinks constantly about how hard his life is, but he can’t think of a way to be free...

All the boys in the factory are debt slaves. None of them have a peshgi, which is what the debt is called, less than when they started to work for Ghullah. After five years in the carpet factory it would become even worse for Iqbal...

One day a man comes by and speaks with the carpet slaves... My name is Yousuf! The peshgi debt which makes you slaves is unlawful. Follow with me to a meeting of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, BLLF tomorrow and you will learn more.

Look out!

You know what will happen to you if you leave your work!

The owner is coming!

Iqbal ignores his owner’s warning and takes part in the meeting... Say, didn’t I see you yesterday?



When Iqbal visits his home village he speaks with children in other carpet factories. Many now dare to leave their owners....

Arshad Ghullah comes to Iqbal’s house... You must begin to work again, otherwise the others won’t work either!

Be careful! You now have Arshad as an enemy! I’m not afraid of him any longer. He ought to be afraid of me!

I don’t have any time for you!

The lie spreads The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan confirms that the police report is correct and that Hero, an innocent man, is the murderer. As a result the lie is spread all over the world by ambassadors and journalists, without being questioned. The Human Rights Commission also claims, without proof, that the murder is nothing to do with the fact that Iqbal challenged the carpet makers. Hero is kept out of the way. No one is allowed to meet him. But in court he is found not guilty. The police write that Hero, who has never before held a rifle, just happened to hit Iqbal when he fired in the general direction of the boys. In actual fact, Iqbal was hit by 120 pellets on his back, while the other boys were only hit by a total of two pellets. It was Iqbal who was the murderer’s target, and he was shot in the back when he tried to escape. “Iqbal told me that he wanted to be a big lawyer,” recalls Sobia, who was ten when her big brother was murdered. “He wanted to free the children in the carpet factories and give them an education so that poor children could have a better future.”  19

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Iqbal now speaks at BLLF’s meetings where free debt-slaves gather...

We are ...

Modern day slaves There are around 240 million working children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the world today. Three in four of them carry out harmful child labour, the kind of work that prevents children from going to school and destroys their health and development. More than 8 million children are forced into the worst kinds of child labour, as debt slaves, soldiers or prostitutes. Every year, at least 1.2 million children are ‘trafficked’ in the modern day slave trade. Iqbal was a modern day child slave. There are child slaves in countries like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Cambodia and Sudan, as well as in Europe. Most of these are debt slaves, but there are other kinds of slaves, like the girls in West Africa who are household slaves. You are a modern day slave if your employer has so much power over you that you have to work for him or her. Pakistan, like most other countries, has laws that ban both debt slavery and child labour. But often these laws are not enforced. The countries that have child slaves have all ratified the UN Conven­ tion on the Rights of the Child, and are supposed to protect their children from having to carry out work that is harmful for them. 

Later the same day Iqbal meets his relatives Faryad and Lyaqat...

... FREE!!!

We’re going to bike out with food to Amanat in the field!



So died Iqbal Masih, the boy who worldwide is a symbol for the fight against child labour...

“The former debt slave boy Iqbal Masih who fought for children’s rights in Pakistan is dead!”

At the police station on the same night the murder is committed...

Faryad is forced to put his fingerprint on a sheet of blank paper. Then the police write down what they claim has happened...

The news spreads around the world...


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NOMINEE • Pages 21–25

Asfaw Yemiru When Asfaw Yemiru was nine he lived alone on the streets of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. He started his first school at the age of 14. Now he’s 66, and has helped tens of thousands of poor children to go to school and achieve a better life. “Asfaw is a very simple man. His only riches are all of his students,” says Behailu Eshete who attended Asfaw’s first class 52 years ago.


sfaw’s story begins when he is nine years old, watching over his father’s goats. His father has decided that Asfaw is to start attending the village priest-school in a few days. But Asfaw has no interest in this. He had been to the capital Addis Ababa with his father, and has wanted to return ever since. He believes he can have a much better life in Addis Ababa than if he remains in the village with his eleven siblings and looks after goats. But Addis Ababa is a long way away and Asfaw knows that his mother and father would never agree to him moving. “It usually takes more

than two days to get to the city by donkey, so it will take even longer to walk,” he thinks. Early the next morning he heads off to Addis Ababa. Work and school When he passes by St. George’s church in Addis

Ababa, Asfaw sees many poor orphaned children there. Since he has no money he also goes into the church. Asfaw spends the night there. He spends the next night in the church as well. Asfaw takes a job as a bearer. Sometimes several days go by without him having anything to eat. Like many of the other poor children Asfaw begins to attend the church’s priest school when he doesn’t work. He learns quickly and the priests help him to attend a catholic school. One day a rich woman passes the church with a large basket full of cheeses.

The children also learn about agriculture and other practical skills they need so that they can always support themselves.

Good grades in Asfaw’s schools Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest countries. The country’s inhabitants have suffered repeatedly from war and drought, which has caused the deaths of millions of people. More than half of the population are children under 15. Nearly two out of every three Ethiopians can’t read or write. School is free and mandatory for the first six years, but less than half of all children ever begin school. Only one in ten children continue on to class 6. Big class sizes are quite normal. Asfaw’s Moya school has had the best class 8 exam results in the whole of Ethiopia for many years. There are several reasons for this. There are only 30 children in each class; the poor children are highly motivated to learn; caning is banned, and there is a good atmosphere in the school.

WHY IS ASFAW A NOMINEE? Asfaw Yemiru has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 because he has spent 45 years, since he was 14, devoting all of his time and energy to fighting for the rights of the most deprived children. Asfaw believes that education is the only way to help poor children to improve their lives. He started his first school for children living on the streets in 1957 at the age of 14, after he himself had been living on the streets from the age of nine, working as a child labourer. Tens of thousands of poor children have received their education in Asfaw’s schools, and he has also offered support to their families by providing money and milk. Asfaw’s schools are free, and nobody has to pay for school books or buy a school uniform. Caning has always been forbidden in Asfaw’s schools, where the children also learn about farming and other practical skills. Asfaw’s struggle to give poor children the chance of a better life has been long and often hard – he has been in prison several times.


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Asfaw pays a house call to some of his students.

One of the cheeses falls out of the basket. “Excuse me! You dropped some cheese,” calls Asfaw and runs up to her. The woman looks at him and offers him a job and a place to stay at her home. Asfaw accepts and for the next three years he works for the woman and her two sons. Every day he gets up before sunrise and chops wood and fetches water before he runs off to school. Despite hurrying he often arrives late and is beaten by the teachers. When Asfaw comes home from school he is tired, but he still has work to do. He never goes to sleep before late in the evenings. Eat less! Asfaw makes up eight school years of study in only a few years. When he takes the final exam in the eighth class his results are so good that he wins a scholarship to the outstanding Wingate boarding school.

When Asfaw is 14 he begins at Wingate. He likes the school very much, but one thing bothers him. The school is adjacent to Paulos Petros Church where many poor, orphaned children live. One day as he sits in the dining room and eats, Asfaw gets an idea. “Imagine if we gave the left-over food to the poor children instead of throwing it away!” Asfaw goes immediately to the headmaster, who thinks that Asfaw is absolutely right. Every day after lunch, Asfaw and his friends hand out food to the hungry

children. Asfaw asks his classmates to eat less so that there will be more food left for the poor. Many think this is good, but they still tease him a little. “Look, here comes the boy who wants us to go hungry!” they call and laugh. Asfaw also collects clothing from his classmates and gives it to the children outside the church. Some of the poor children ask Asfaw if they can’t be allowed to go to school exactly as he does. Asfaw speaks to some of his classmates and they decide that they themselves will try

to teach the children. At 4.30 the next day Asfaw holds his first lesson under a big oak tree in the yard. The rumour about Asfaw’s school under the tree spreads quickly, and every day more and more poor children come. Stop Emperor! When Asfaw turns 17 and begins his last year at Wingate, some 200 children gather every afternoon at his school under the oak tree. Asfaw had planned to continue his studies at the university, but he feels that he can’t abandon all of the

STOP EMPEROR! Give me land for a school!

A barefoot Asfaw (on the left) shows the emperor his new school.


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The long march Asfaw taking the lead during the 1,000-kilometre march to raise money for his schools.

orphans under the tree. He decides to try to build a school where the children can both live and continue their education. But he has no money, and no land. One day Wingate receives a visit from Ethiopia’s Emperor, Haile Selassie. He has come to see how things are going for pupils at the country’s best school. When the emperor is about to leave, Asfaw sees his chance. He throws himself on the ground before the emperor’s car and cries out: “Give us land!” Everyone wonders in terror what will happen. The Emperor gets out of his car and approaches Asfaw. “Why do you need land?” He asks. “I want to build a school for poor children,” answers Asfaw. Some time later, Asfaw receives a large plot of land behind the Wingate School from the Emperor. Asfaw is able to borrow money from the headmaster at Wingate

Many of Asfaw’s students live in simple shacks.

and together with the children he begins to build the school and moves into it along with 280 orphaned children. The long march Ten years after the opening of the school Asfaw has 2,500 pupils and is “father” to 380 orphans. But Asfaw has two problems. Firstly, the school is getting very crowded and secondly, he realises that many of his students can’t find a job after they graduate. Asfaw decides to build another school. At the new school, aside from learning maths, English and other subjects, the children will also learn about agriculture. If children learn, for example, how to grow vegetables and raise chickens, Asfaw hopes that they will be able to make a living, even if they don’t find work. As usual, Asfaw is short of money, but he has an idea... “We will walk to Harar and back!” he tells some of

Asfaw pays a house call When money is available the poorest families receive help from Asfaw, so they can let their children go to school instead of to work.

his oldest students one day. They think he is joking because everyone knows that Harar is 500 kilometres away across the desert, half way to Somalia. But Asfaw explains to his students that they will send out information about their walk to international organisations, companies and rich people to get them to sponsor the walk. They walk through the mountains and extremely hot steppes. They sleep under the stars. Every day some of the students give up, and finally there is only Asfaw left. He is the only one who walks the entire 1,000 kilometres. Asfaw uses the phone book to write to the 5,000 richest people and companies in Ethiopia. He gets one answer! But finally money starts coming in, mostly from friends abroad. Asfaw buys a piece of land where, together with his students, he builds another school. Asfaw’s life has been a

long and often exhausting journey to help poor children. Under previous governments he was even imprisoned for his work. Tens of thousands of children have received their education at Asfaw’s schools since he began teaching orphaned children under that tree 52 years ago. But often Asfaw has felt unhappy that he couldn’t help more children. 

Asfaw’s school Asere Hawariat for classes one to five.


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shines shoes and goes to the poor children’s school It takes Yewbneh, 12, an hour during the dry season to walk to Asfaw's school Asere Hawariat. He loves going to school, and it’s his dream to one day be a doctor.


ewbneh has been shining shoes for three hours and before that he has been in school the entire day. His back aches when he straightens up and counts his money. There’s enough for a little bread and perhaps something else. Yewbneh’s best friend Wondimageni has also finished work so they begin to walk home together. When he comes home Yewbneh hangs up his worn work coat. Smoke from the cooking fires is heavy in the air, but in Yewbneh’s home there won’t be any warm dinner this evening either. It will be bread. “We are poor. Life is hard and that is why I let you work every evening. I don’t like to, but what can I do?”

sighs Grandmother Fikirte. Yewbneh has always lived with his grandmother and her children because his own parents are dead. “It is good to live with grandmother, but I am always sad when I think about my parents. I don’t remember what they looked like.” No uniform

After dinner Yewbneh goes into his little brown mud house. Yewub, who is his aunt, is already waiting for him. They do lessons together every night under the only light bulb in the house. Yewbneh thinks of Yewub as his sister. All of grandmother’s children - and they are many –have become his

Ten adults and seven children share two small rooms in Yewbneh’s home.

Yewbneh does his homework under the only light bulb in the house.

siblings. Ten adults and seven children share two small rooms.. “If I don’t study I can never get a real job and then I will be poor my entire life,” he says. Grandmother agrees. “Education is very important and we’ve been lucky. All of my children have been able to attend Asfaw’s schools free and I have, in addition, been given money by the school every month to pay for electricity and to buy food and other things for the children. I would never have been able to afford to send the children to any other school.” Yewbneh knows that this is true. “During my first year the school gave me 20 birr every month so that I could continue attending. Now I don’t receive money as frequently because the school can no

longer afford it. But I still don’t need to pay for going to school and we don’t need to wear uniforms. No one

Yewbneh calls his aunt Kebebush sister. Here she pounds wheat.


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! k c a Sm Just as Yewbneh walks past with his shoe-shining kit one of the boys squarely hits a ball, which is bound fast with a rope to a pole. The ball has been made of plastic bags by the boys themselves. The boys are playing Tezer-ball and when one of them misses it is time for a new player. They motion for Yewbneh to join the game, but he never has time. “I think all children ought to be able to play after school instead of having to work,” says Yewbneh.

Yewbneh earns enough money for bread from the day’s shoe shining.

would have the money to buy a uniform,” says Yewbneh. Likes English “I am not certain that I want to get married and have children. First I must fi nd a job so that I can support them. If I can’t do that I don’t want to have children. I don’t want my children to suffer as I have, to go to school and have to work at the same time. Children should be able to just go to school,” says Yewbneh.

“I would like to become a doctor. In Ethiopia there are very many poor people who have no access to a doctor. I would like to help them,” he says. Someone rings the bell that hangs in the tree outside the classroom and recess is over. The teacher writes something on his blackboard. It says, "He shines shoes in the afternoon", in English. “Have I spelled it correctly?” he asks. “Yes, it’s right!” answers

the entire class in chorus. It is the fi nal lesson of the day and Yewbneh, who is in class five, has English. He looks for a moment at the blackboard and then writes the sentence in his notebook. “He cleans shoes in the afternoon". Long way to school When the school day is over Yewbneh talks for a moment with his friends, but he can’t stay for very long. It’s a long way home. In the dry period it takes about one hour.

When the rains come he has to wade in mud and then it takes nearly twice as long. “Hey there Yewbneh!” calls his ‘sister’ Kebebush, who is crushing wheat in the yard when he comes home. He returns her greeting and puts down his brown school bag and eats a piece of bread before putting on his blue work coat. He goes to the water tap and fills his shoe-shining bucket. Just then his friend Wondimageni arrives and they go off together towards the road.  25

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NOMINEE • Pages 26 –30

Nkosi Johnson WHY IS NKOSI A NOMINEE? Nkosi Johnson has been nominated posthumously (after his death) as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for his fight for the rights of children with HIV and AIDS. He fought for their right to go to school and to be treated like other children. He opened a home for poor mothers and children with AIDS. He urged the South African government to give mothers with HIV special drugs that would save the lives of tens of thousands of children in South Africa every year. Even after his death, Nkosi continues to be a role model for children with AIDS, as well as for healthy children, who he taught to respect and not be afraid of children with AIDS.

Nkosi and Mimi.

Nkosi Johnson, the little boy with the big eyes, gave children with AIDS in South Africa a voice that reached around the world...


kosi himself had AIDS and died when he was 12 on 1 June 2001 – the day Children’s Day is celebrated in South Africa, a day dedicated to the welfare of children. But during his short life Nkosi did a lot of thinking about why the South African government and the adults of the world didn’t do everything they could to protect children from being born with HIV. And why they don’t take care of children who are born with HIV – children who will gradually develop AIDS and die very young. Nkosi also saw how children became orphans because their mothers and fathers died of AIDS. These children ended up on the street without anyone to take care of them. Terrible statistics There are 2.1 million children around the world with HIV. Some 280,000 of these children live in South Africa. Fifteen million children around the world are orphans because their parents have died of AIDS. Around 1.4 million of these children live in South Africa. Nkosi’s struggle When Nkosi wasn’t allowed to start school he gave lots of

interviews and pointed out that he was not a danger to other children. The debate on Nkosi’s school situation led to the decision that all children with AIDS in South Africa have the right to attend school. Together with his foster mother Gail, Nkosi struggled for two years to open a home – Nkosi’s Haven – where poor mothers with AIDS could live for free, together with their children. Nkosi knew that he would probably have been born healthy if his mother Daphne, who had AIDS, had been given anti-HIV drugs while pregnant with him. He thought a lot about why so many children are allowed to become sick and die of AIDS when this could be avoided. In a speech heard throughout the world

(which you can read parts of on the next page), Nkosi challenged the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki. Government refused On 14 December 2001, a court in South Africa ruled that the South African Government must provide expectant mothers with anti-HIV medicine. But only a few days after the court’s ruling the government appealed against the decision. South Africa’s children (and many adults) recall what Nkosi said: “The government should give mothers the medicine they so badly need. No more children should die.” 


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From Nkosi’s speech in July 2000, before an audience of 10,000 and TV cameras:

Hi, my name is Nkosi ... ... and I have AIDS


i, my name is Nkosi. I am eleven years old and I have full blown

AIDS. I was born HIV positive. When I was two years old I was living in a care centre for HIV infected people. My mommy could not afford to keep me because she was very scared that the community she lived in would find out that we were both infected and chase us away. I know she loved me very much and would visit me when she could. But the care centre had to close down because they didn’t have any funds. So my foster mother Gail Johnson, who worked at the care centre, said that she would take me home. I have been living with her for 8 years now. She has taught me all about being infected and how I must be careful with my blood if I fall and cut myself and bleed. I know that my blood is only dangerous to others if they also have an open wound and my blood goes into it. That is the only time people need to be careful when touching me. In 1997 mommy Gail went to Melpark Primary School and she had to fill in a form for my admission and it said does your child suffer from anything so she said yes, AIDS. Then she phoned the school who then had a meet-

ing about me. Of the parents and the teachers at the meeting, 50% said they didn’t want me to go to school there. Then AIDS workshops were given at the school for parents and teachers to teach them not to be scared of a child with AIDS. I am very proud to say that there is now a policy for all infected children to be allowed to go to schools and not be discriminated against. I hate having AIDS because I get very sick and I get very sad when I think of all other children and babies that are sick with AIDS. I just wish the government can start giving AZT to pregnant HIV mothers to help stop the virus being passed onto their babies. I know one little abandoned baby who came to stay with us and his name was Micky. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t eat and he was so sick. Micky was such a cute little baby and I think the government must start giving mothers medicine because I don’t want babies to die. My mommy Gail and I have always wanted to start a care centre for HIV positive mothers and their children. I am very happy and proud to say that the first Nkosi’s Haven was opened last year. I want people to understand about AIDS – to be careful and respect AIDS –

but you can’t get AIDS from touching someone who is infected. Care for us and accept us – we are all human beings we are normal – we have hands we have feet we can walk we can talk, we have needs just like everyone else – don’t be afraid of us – we are all the same!”


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Nkosi means king, chief or leader in the Zulu language. And sure enough little Nkosi Johnson became a leader for children with AIDS. When Nkosi spoke out for the rights of the child the world listened, even though he was only eleven years old.

Our hero Nkosi D

uring his short life Nkosi succeeded in achieving several important results in his fight for the rights of children with AIDS: The right to education When half of the teachers and parents didn’t want to

let him start at Melpark School, Nkosi was interviewed 35 times in five days. He became famous all over South Africa. Even the government discussed whether or not a child who had AIDS should be allowed to go to school with other children. Three months later it was decided that Nkosi would be allowed to attend Melpark School and, thanks to him, it was also decided that all children with AIDS in South Africa would be allowed to go to school. One early

morning in 1997 a shy but happy seven-year-old Nkosi walked into a classroom for the first time. Home for the poor Nkosi wanted to create a home where mothers with AIDS and their children could live together. As many of them were just as poor as his mother had been, he wanted everyone to be able to live at the home completely free of charge. He also wanted children to be allowed to stay on after their mothers died so that they wouldn’t end up on the street, but could continue to go to school. To raise money, Nkosi gave lectures on AIDS and Gail tried to get companies to sponsor the kind of home he wanted. Two years later,

Nkosi became a superhero in a comic strip. Nkosi the superhero can fly.

in l999, Nkosi was able to open the home. It was named Nkosi’s Haven. Mandela phoned The same afternoon, South Africa’s former president, Nelson Mandela, phoned. He asked if Nkosi would like to visit him. Nkosi had always admired Mandela so of course he wanted to meet him! Mandela asked Nkosi if he would want to be president when he grew up. “No, I don’t think so. It seems like too much work!” Nkosi answered. Mandela laughed. Speech in Durban Nkosi became more ill and thought a lot about his disease. In July 2000 a big conference on AIDS was to be held in the city of Durban. Nkosi was invited to speak at the opening ceremony. He accepted straight away. This would be his chance to tell the president what he thought the government should do for all children with AIDS! When Nkosi heard that there would be over 10,000 people in the audience and that his speech would be


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HELLO FRIEND! in South Africa’s 11 languages Many children in South Africa speak several languages. Here you can learn to say “Hello friend” in South Africa’s 11 official languages. Zulu: Sawubona mngani wami! Xhosa: Molo mhlobo wami! Pedi: Dumela mogwera! Sotho: Dumela motswale wa ka! Swazi: Sawubona mngani wami! Tswana: Agge tsale ya mi! Venda: Hu ita hani khonani yanga!

shown on TV throughout the world he became very nervous! But he stepped out on to the stage and said: “I just wish the government could start giving AZT medicines to pregnant HIV mothers to help stop the virus being passed on to their babies. I don’t want babies to die.” Nkosi received a standing ovation. Newspapers throughout the world wrote that Nkosi had stood up for over one million children with AIDS at the conference and that no one had meant as much to the fight against AIDS as he had.

Tsonga/ Shangaan: Avhushani mgana wamena! Ndebele: Sawubona mngani wami! Afrikaans: Goeie dag my vriend! English: Hello my friend!

hoped that he would get better. But he didn’t. Early on the morning of 1 June 2001 – the day when Children’s Day is celebrated in South Africa – Nkosi died peacefully in his sleep. He was only twelve years old. Children all over South Africa sent letters and cuddly toys to Nkosi. A little girl, Leepile Manyaise, wrote: “Nkosi, I love you and you are my hero. You fought to the end, but now I hope that you will finally be able to rest. I will miss you.” 

Miss you... Six months later Nkosi became seriously ill. Many, both children and adults, came to visit him. They all

Nkosi taught headmaster not to be afraid “Nkosi and I were very close. Towards the end we were almost like brothers. But in the beginning many of my teachers and I were afraid of him and didn’t want to touch him. But Nkosi taught me that AIDS can’t be passed on through affectionate gestures or ordinary body contact. Even though I was the adult he was the one who taught me things! “Every morning he came in to my office and we drank hot chocolate together and talked. At lunch he brought food from home like all the other children, but he used to hide the food and come in to my office and say that he was hungry! I could never resist that so I went out and bought pizza and we sat together here in the office! Pizza was his favourite food. “Until third grade his health was okay, but after that he gradually became weaker. Even though he was very sick he preferred to come to school and sleep on my sofa rather than staying at home. Some people thought that I spoiled him, but I only wanted to make his final days of life as happy as possible. “I miss him very much, especially now that it’s winter. He used to sit in the sun outside the staffroom and wait for me. Some mornings I still wonder when he will turn up. Nkosi changed the whole South African school system and he made this school very special. Long after everyone has forgotten who I was, people will say that Melpark School was Nkosi’s school.” Badie Badenhorst

Mandela and Nkosi Nelson Mandela called and wanted to meet Nkosi. Nkosi and Badie.


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Nkosi & Hector fought for the rights of the child

Nkosi taught me that we must care

“Nkosi was very courageous before he died because he spoke about his illness. When Nkosi spoke people understood how dangerous AIDS is. He said that children with AIDS must be loved just like other children and I think that is very important. Nkosi also fought for the right of children with AIDS to attend school. “My school is named after a boy called Hector Pieterson*. When South Africa was still a racist country he fought for the right of black children to get a good education and because of that he was shot. He was also only 12 when he died and I think that Nkosi and Hector have lots in common. Both fought for the rights of the child.” Octavia Lebohang Gumede Hector Pieterson Primary School, Soweto * Hector was awarded the World’s Children’s Honorary Award posthumously (after his death) in 2000.

“Before I heard about Nkosi I was frightened of people who had AIDS, but he explained it so that I understood and now I really care about them. I travel around and speak about AIDS in schools just as we are doing here today. We arrange party days at schools with music and dance and at the same time we talk about AIDS. I try to get young people to understand that a friend with AIDS is still a friend. Anybody can be affected by AIDS – my sister, my brother.” Nonhlanhla Ngcobo Soweto


Nkosi on the radio “I usually listen to the radio every evening before I go to sleep. As we don’t have electricity our radio runs on batteries. One night my big sisters and I were lying on our mattress listening when they talked about Nkosi Johnson who lived far away in Johannesburg. They said that he was suffering from AIDS and that he was very ill. We thought it was awful that such a young boy could have this terrible illness. It was so unjust! At the same time he was very courageous to talk about his sickness and help others. Here in our village no one even dares to talk about it. Nkosi said that children with AIDS should be treated just as well as all other children and I agree. It is wrong to treat sick children badly, because if people laugh at them they will become even more unhappy. I am afraid of AIDS because there is no cure.” Kgopotso Ntsane Kotsoana village, Transkei


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NOMINEE • Pages 31–35

MAITI “My goal is to make Nepal wholly free from the slave trade in girls,” says Anuradha Koirala, the founder of Maiti Nepal. Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries. Many children here are forced to work in carpet factories, farming or as household servants. Girls face the additional threat of being cheated and sold as slaves to brothels in India.


everal thousand girls are sold every year, the youngest only eight years old. The girls are locked up for several years in brothels. Often they are not released until they’ve become too ill to work. Many girls have by then been infected with HIV. Worse for girls “Many blame poverty, but the main reason is that girls are treated worse than boys in Nepal,” says Anuradha Koirala. She founded Maiti in 1993, which since then has been able to save thousands of girls from having their lives destroyed in brothels. Daughters are supposed to be married off and move to

their husbands’ homes, so why should we educate them? That’s how many parents think. The boys are supposed to look after their families and are therefore seen as more valuable. And when a daughter marries, the family has to pay a dowry. Girl-traffickers exploit the poor villagers’ situation. They say they have a good job for the daughter in town. Sometimes the man asks to marry the daughter. Prevention and rescue At Maiti’s various centres in the countryside, thousands of girls have learned all about the trade in girls. They have also been able to learn to read and write, sew clothing and make jewellery. If they can support themselves there is less of a risk that their parents will send them away to work. The girls at the centres travel to villages and sing and put on plays about the slave trade in girls. And when they return home to their villages they pass on their knowledge to their girlfriends.

Maiti provides protection and care at its centre in the capital Kathmandu. There is also a children’s home and a school, Teresa Academy. Maiti saves thousands of girls every year at the border. It cooperates with the police at the border posts in India. Maiti trains girls, who have previously been sold, to become border guards. They know how trafficking works and what to look out for. At one of the border posts Maiti has opened a hospital for women and children infected with HIV and AIDS. “My dream is to establish a village for children with AIDS,” says Anuradha Koirala. “And I would like to see the girls who were sold, laugh and become children again!” 

Why is Maiti a nominee? Maiti Nepal has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for its fight against the slave trade in girls from Nepal, who are sold to brothels in India, a practice known as trafficking. Maiti prevents poor girls from being lured to brothels by educating and informing them. Maiti takes care of and supports girls who have been held in brothels in India, and has a special hospital for girls who have been infected with HIV. Some of these girls have become Maiti border guards, who stop girl-traffickers when they try to bring girls to India. Maiti works with Rescue Center in Mumbai in India, whose employees risk their lives to free girls locked up in brothels.

Anuradha Koirala, founder of Maiti.


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watches the border Poonam watches the border between Nepal and India. She scrutinises every vehicle that crosses the border. Poonam herself was sold to a brothel in India when she was only 14, so she knows just what to look for. Suddenly, border guard Poonam catches sight of something that attracts her attention. Is the girl she caught sight of one of the thousands of poor Nepalese girls who are lured to India every year to be sold to brothels?


t is ten o’clock on a Saturday morning at a border station between Nepal and India. Poonam covers her nose and mouth with her white scarf. The air is humid, dusty and full of exhaust fumes. “Stop! Stop! Where are you going?” Poonam stops an approaching bicycle taxi. In the passenger seat sits an older man with a young girl by his side. The man becomes irritated. “Who are you? What right do you have to stop me?” he asks. Poonam has no uniform and looks like an ordinary girl, dressed in a white pat-

terned sari and sandals. This is intentional. No one should be able to tell that she is a border guard. Poonam takes out her ID card where it says she works for Maiti Nepal. She explains: “We work to stop girls from being smuggled into India, so I would like to ask you some questions.” It turns out that the girl is his niece and they are going to visit relatives in India. The man shows papers to prove who they are and Poonam lets them go. Saving many girls “We check all the girls who cross the border. Even when they travel with women. You

Maiti's border guards don't wear uniform, so that no one knows they are guards.

can easily recognise girls from the villages by their clothing and by how they speak. We ask for their ID, and where they are going.” The young border guards always work in pairs. Maiti has a small house where people are taken for questioning. “If we’re not sure about somebody we try to contact their relatives. And we question the man and the girl separately. We only allow them to travel on if their answers match.” Poonam has saved several girls on their way to being smuggled to India. “We take the men to the police and the girl must

You there...Stop! Poonam asks what the man and girl are going to do in India.


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Poonam has done her washing. She doesn't want to show her face so that people in Nepal find out what she has been through.

come with us to the Maiti Centre. Then we locate her family and send her home.” Lured to India Poonam was sold to a brothel in India when she was 14. “My father died when I was five. I was forced to leave school in the ninth grade, because our family is poor. My best friend and I began to work as waitresses at a restaurant in the capital, Kathmandu.” Eventually, Poonam became good friends with a boy who came to the restaurant every day. “It felt as if Rudra was my brother. I really trusted him. One day he asked my friend and I if we wanted to visit a temple the next day. It was located up on a mountain far from Kathmandu, and you could make wishes up there. I said no, but my friend convinced me to go. We had to stay the night at an inn. “There were three boys with us – Rudra, Fistey and Bikash. The next day, Bikash said he had a shop in India that he needed to buy goods for. We refused to go with them, but they forced us and we went to a town in India.” The girls were taken further on by train and taxi. Rudra said that they were

going to visit his sister. Now Poonam started to worry. She wanted to go home – people must be wondering where she was. But Rudra, who had been so nice to her in Nepal, now showed a whole other side to his nature in India. Sold as a slave “They took us to a house and Rudra dragged us into a small room. It was very hot in there and I asked if we could go out, but he said no. We asked them to take us back to Kathmandu and they promised we would return home soon. But when we tried to leave the room they stopped us.” When Poonam tried to open a window to get a little air she saw some girls wearing lipstick who were standing in the street. “I tried to leave, but Rudra hit me in the head with a belt and I started to bleed. My clothes were covered in blood and through the haze I saw the boys take money from a wallet, saying they had sold us. We said that had they asked us we could have given them money. We begged them to take us back to Nepal, but they just laughed at us and said we would never be able to raise enough money.” When Poonam regained

consciousness, the woman who owned the brothel appeared and said that they had to start work immediately. Then Poonam and her friend were separated. “I was taken to another house. When I refused to work, the brothel owner hit me. “I told my first customer that I had never done this before and begged him to help me escape. He said that on Saturdays a lot of people came to the brothel and that he would help me then. He didn’t touch me.” But the brothel owner heard them talking and moved Poonam to another brothel. And she was beaten again. Death threats and rescue Life at the brothel was like being in prison. The girls lived in small crowded rooms and were never allowed out. “There were 30 of us at the brothel, mostly from Nepal, but they didn’t let us become friends with each other. Some girls talked about escaping and made plans, but somebody always told on them and then they were beaten. The brothel owner threatened us and said she would bury us under the house if we did anything stupid. I was 33

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Girls at the Maiti Border Centre watch TV.

scared, but the thing that kept me going was that I planned to escape from the very beginning. I made an impression of the door key in soap which I gave to customers and asked them to have copies made. Finally, after five months, Poonam was rescued. It was Maiti in Mumbai (Bombay) that had received information that there were children in the brothel and contacted the police. Twenty-one girls were saved that time. Poonam came home to Nepal and was allowed to live at Maiti's Centre in Kathmandu. “I was so happy!” Poonam’s revenge Poonam had her revenge when she managed to have

Rudra put in jail. The other girls who were saved with Poonam, had also been sold by him. Together they could give the police information that led to Rudra’s arrest. “When I think about my time in the brothel I just want to cry. It’s like a nightmare. If I had known more

about the slave trade in girls I wouldn’t have been so easily deceived. So, I want to stay at Maiti and try to prevent other girls from experiencing the terrible things that happened to me.” 

Learn Nepalese Ke gare ko? – Hello... How are things? Khelney ho? – Do you want to play? Timro naam ke ho? – What's your name? Mero naam – My name is Timi kasto chao? – How are you? Ma sanchai chu – I'm fine Malai timi maan parcha – I like you Saathi – Friend


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Saved at the border Anjali, 12, is the youngest girl at the Maiti Centre. She was saved at the border when she was on her way to a circus in India: “A man came to our house and asked my mother if she would sell me to a circus in India. Mother said no, but I went on about it because I thought it sounded like fun. There were several of us who were friends and wanted to go together. The man said that there wouldn’t be any hard work and that I only needed to learn to walk on a rope. We would be given a lot of time to watch TV. “When we were about to cross the border a girl from Maiti came up to us and asked the man where we were going. He said he was going to give us food in India. But the girl then asked me

and I said I was going to work in a circus. She saw that the man was lying and we were told to go with her. Afterwards I was scared because I had been tricked.” Children from poor families in Nepal are often tricked by being told they will earn a lot of money, that the job is easy and that they will be able to go to school. In reality they receive no salary at all and are forced to work every day of the entire year. Now Anjali is living at Maiti's Centre to learn about the slave trade in young girls so that she can spread this information to her friends in her home village.

Greatest risk for poor girls Dilmaya learns about the slave trade in girls at Maiti’s centre. Then she and the girls at Maiti’s travel to the villages to sing and act in order to warn other girls. Dilmaya made plastic flowers to sell during Dashai, the major Hindu festival for Durga, who is goddess of the sea and represents feminine force. The festival is celebrated because when the rainy season is over and the harvest has been gathered in, good has triumphed over evil.



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NOMINEE • Pages 36–40

Maggy Barankitse Why is Maggy a nominee? Maggy Barankitse has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for her over 15-year struggle to help children in Burundi, where armed conflict continues to take place. Maggy has directly saved the lives of 25 children and helped over 10,000 children to a better life. She builds villages of 500 houses where orphaned children can grow up in ‘families’. They receive food, clothing, medical care, schooling, homes and love! Maggy helps children from all the people groups and religions of the country, teaching them that they are all equal. She also helps poor children in neighbouring villages, and shows that people in Burundi can help one another. All 30,000 people who live in and around Maggy’s villages are offered medical care at the hospital she has had built. Maggy takes risks when she points out that Burundi’s politicians, army and rebels violate children’s rights.

Maggy Barankitse and 7-yearold Dieudonné hug each other. Dieudonné is one of the many children in Burundi that Maggy has helped to a better life. It began when she saved the lives of 25 children during the civil war in 1993. Since then, she has helped over 10,000 children. They have received food, clothing, medical care, a home, the chance to go to school and… love!


ieudonné is a lively boy, but his face bears the scars of war. When Maggy found him, four months old, his face was badly injured by the grenade that had killed his mother. Maggy worked at the Bishop’s Manor in Ruyigi when the civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples broke out. “I helped people from both groups to find shelter at the Bishop’s Manor. But we were attacked by hundreds of Tutsis. They beat me and kicked me, but they let me live because I’m a Tutsi.” “I managed to hide 25 children, but when the attack was over all the children had lost their parents. Because I lost my parents when I was little, I know how important it is for a child to feel safe and loved. I decided to take care of the children myself,” says Maggy. The war in Burundi killed around 300,000 people, many of them children. There are 620,000 orphaned children as a result of war and AIDS.

“Children have been kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers, others have been forced to quit school since their fees are no longer paid for. Over half of the children in Burundi do not go to school. Many end up on the streets, where they have to beg to survive and risk being exploited. But the politicians continue to invest in weapons, not in children,” says Maggy. House of Peace Maggy and the children moved into an old school that they renamed ‘Maison Shalom’, the House of Peace. The children belong to all of the people groups and religions in Burundi. Maggy teaches them that they are all equal. “I want to show the people of Burundi that it’s possible to live together in peace.” At first, there was only the orphanage at Maison Shalom, but Maggy didn’t want the children to grow up in an orphanage. “That’s why I built villages of 500 small houses where the children can live in small families. There are a couple of ‘village mothers’ in every

village. The children learn to manage a household, grow vegetables and tend livestock, but most importantly they learn that they belong to a family that loves them. The things the children learn in the villages will help them manage when they move away one day.” Maggy has set up a bakery, a dressmaker’s workshop, a small guesthouse and a farm. There, the children who have completed school can work to support themselves and their ‘families’. Maggy’s struggle for the children in Burundi is often dangerous. She has searched for abandoned and wounded children in conflict areas. She has been put on trial several times, and many people have threatened to kill her because she tells the truth about the way politicians, the army and the rebels violate the rights of the child. “My dream is to be able to close Maison Shalom one day, and see to it that every child in Burundi has a family to live with. But more children come to us every day, and we will be here as long as there are children who need our help and our love.” 


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“Maggy is my mum and my gran”


It was 1993, and Justine’s family had sought shelter with Maggy. But one morning, the Bishop’s Manor was attacked by hundreds of armed men.


urry up! You can hide in here,” Maggy shouted. She opened the empty cupboard and Justine and her three little sisters squeezed in as fast as they could. When Maggy closed the door, Justine was terrified. She heard gunfire and people screaming. She thought about the rest of the family. Where were her mum and dad? And her little brother? After several hours Maggy opened the cupboard door. Justine saw that she was crying. “It’s over… but your parents didn’t make it. Your little sister is also dead. I’m sorry about everything that’s happened, but I promise I’ll take care of you now,” she whispered.

“Maggy took care of me and my sisters. She made sure that we could continue school, but most of all, she gave us love. I think it’s because of her love that we could get through all those awful things. I see Maggy as my mum, my dad, my gran... she’s everything to me!” says Justine. “I want to be like Maggy and help other children who are suffering. The most important thing Maggy has taught me is to forgive. The men who murdered my parents and my little sister live just a few houses away. At first I always wanted revenge. But one day they came and asked for my for-

Justine and her little brother Claude, who also survived the attack.

giveness. They cried and said they regretted what they’d done. It was hard, but I forgave them. After that day, I could finally get on with my life.” 

Maison Shalom began with Lysette and Lydia “Before Lysette’s mother died, she begged me to love Lydia and Lysette as if they were my own daughters and I swore to do my best to give the girls a good life. I also made up my mind to take care of all the other children who had survived the massacre at the Bishop’s Manor. That night, I became mother and father to 25 children who had been left totally alone in a bloody war,” says Maggy. She put up a gravestone in honour of Lysette’s parents and all the others who died in the massacre. But Maggy also put up the gravestone so that all the children who had survived

would have a place to go where they could remember their dead parents and brothers and sisters. “I often go there with Lysette and Lydia. We pray for their parents, and sometimes the girls put beautiful flowers on the grave. Lysette’s parents meant a lot to me. Her mother and I were best friends and I feel that they continue to help me to have the strength to keep fighting.” “I got a second chance in life thanks to Maggy,” says Lysette Irakoze. Here she is with her sister Lydia as little girls and as teenagers.

Justine and all her siblings one year after the attack.

Maggy and the sisters at the gravestone, which was put up in memory of everyone who died in the massacre.

“I got a second chance in life, thanks to Maggy,” says Lysette Irakoze. Here together with her sister Lydia, as little girls and as teenagers.


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Aline lives in Maggy’s vi L

andry, it’s time for your bath!” she calls, and starts pouring water into a small plastic tub. Aline bathes him every day when she comes home from school. Landry doesn’t like it, and he cries. But afterwards, when he sits on Aline’s lap wrapped in a dry towel, he’s calm.

Aline Nimbesha lives in Maggy’s village and wants to help orphaned children. “If Maggy hadn’t helped me I would have died. I want to be like her and take care of orphaned children,” says Aline, who is 14. When Aline was five, she lost both of her parents. Today she lives in one of the villages that Maggy has built for orphaned children. Aline lives with six other children who have now become her family. “I love children, and I take care of the children in the village when I’ve finished my homework. They sit on my back, and I sing to them to make them calm and happy.

You have to take care of children and make them feel safe,” says Aline. Aline has been through terrible things herself. In 1993, her village was

attacked and her whole family was killed. Aline is a Tutsi, and the people who killed her family were Hutus. Hit on the head “They set fire to our village and chased us into the woods. I was only five, but a man slashed my throat with a machete, and hit me in the head with a stone. When he thought that I was dead he walked away. But I was lucky, because a woman took care of me and carried me all the way to Maggy. I

Both Christians and Muslims welcome Most people in Burundi are Catholics. Maggy is also a Catholic, but at Maison Shalom, all children are welcome regardless of their religion. It doesn’t matter if they belong to traditional African religions, or if they’re Muslims, Protestants, Catholics or non-believers. They are all equal for Maggy. “If I know that a child’s parents were Muslims, I’ll raise the child as a Muslim, since I know that’s what the parents would have wanted,” says Maggy.


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was unconscious when I got to Ruyigi, and one side of my head was badly hurt. If Maggy hadn’t taken me in and helped me, I would have died.” Carefully, Aline touches the scar on her throat. It’s a constant reminder of the horrors she went through. But although it was Hutus that killed her family, she has never hated them as a group. “It’s probably because I’ve always had friends who are Hutus. At Maison Shalom and in Maggy’s villages, Hutus and Tutsis live side by

side. We’re friends, and for us there’s no difference. We’re equals here. That’s what I always tell Tutsis who can’t understand how I can live with Hutus.” She wants to be like Maggy “Hi, how are you doing?” Gloriosa has come home. She’s something of a mother to the other children. She works at the bakery in Ruyigi that Maggy founded so that girls who have completed school can earn their own living. Maggy pays the children’s school fees and gives them maize, rice,

beans, oil, meat and other things they need once a month. If they want other things, they use Gloriosa’s money. When they go to market to buy fresh fruit, for example, she pays – just as any mother would do. Besides Gloriosa there are also adult women in Maggy’s village who are like mothers to all the children. If a child has a problem, he or she can talk to them. The village mothers also make

sure that everyone goes to school and they help out if anyone is ill. When all the girls have come home, they begin preparing for the evening. Someone tidies, someone else does her homework, and Aline sits on a stool outside the house cleaning rice. Jacqueline sits nearby, rinsing plantains.


’s village for orphaned children

Landry has fallen asleep on Aline’s back.

T he money G loriosa m a ke s goes to he r ‘family’ in the village.

. It takes ic e a day tw r te a w he s Aline fetc me . ur each ti o h n a lf ha


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“It’s better to live here than in an orphanage, because here we’re a family. We take care of each other and learn a lot of things. We learn to cook and take care of a home, and we even learn to grow vegetables. It’s up to us to do it! The day we leave here, we’ll be able to manage just fine,” says Aline. But she really doesn’t want to move from Maggy’s village and start her own family. She wants to be like Maggy. “When I’ve finished school, I want to do everything to help orphaned children. Unfortunately, I believe that there will be more and more orphaned children in Burundi.”

Children are the future Just as in all the other nearby villages, the girls cook the food over an open fire in the yard. They eat and chat about the day’s events. Soon it’s dark and the only thing Aline and the other girls can see is the fires in front of the huts where the other children are sitting, eating and chatting. “Since we have so many problems in Burundi, it’s even more important that we take care of the children who are growing up now. Children are the future, and if they get a good start in life, maybe they’ll be different from today’s adults. 

Neighbouring children get help too “The children who live in Maison Shalom’s villages belong to all of Burundi’s religions and ethnic groups, and they all get along. That’s the way it will have to be throughout Burundi if we’re ever going to see peace,” says Maggy. She hopes that the neighbours of the children in Maison Shalom’s villages will see this and understand that it is actually possible to live together in peace. “I also want everyone in the surrounding area to benefit from Maison Shalom. If we repair houses in our own villages, we help the neighbours to get a new roof as well. The hospital we built is open to all the 30,000 people who live in this area. We also help the children of our poor neighbours to start school and we pay for their school fees and uniforms. Why should it only be the children in the Maison Shalom villages who go to school? That would be unfair! By taking this approach, our work will help all of Burundi,” says Maggy.

Fleury’s slingshot Fleury is seven years old and has just come home from school. He lives in one of Maggy’s villages with his older siblings. He has hurried home today to go out hunting before he does his homework. “My big brother and I make slingshots. First we go and find good sticks in the woods, and then we go to the market and look for broad rubber bands. Bands cut from old tyres are very good.”


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NOMINEE • Pages 41– 45


James Aguer (

When James Aguer Alic was 20, children in his village in southern Sudan were kidnapped to be slaves. His mother was killed when she refused to give up her little daughter. James fled together with his other siblings, and today he saves children from slavery.


fter the attack of the militia, James and his brothers and sisters fled to the capital, Khartoum, where they stayed with relatives in a refugee camp. Many people there talked about how children had been captured and taken to northern Sudan to become slaves. “We must do something,” said James. “We must free them!” One night, James and eight other men met in secret. If the security police had known that they were meeting to discuss freeing slaves they would all have been sent to jail. “I know where they’ve taken the children,” James said. “To the Arab peoples in Darfur and Kordofan. I intend to go there. Will any of you come with me?” Several of the Dinka men answered at once. “Of course. We’ll come with

you!” But two of them were hesitant. “If they find out that we want to free the children, they’ll kill us,” they said. “But if we don’t do it, who will?” James asked. ‘I’m going there even if it kills me.” James and the others started planning. “We must dress like Arabs, so no one suspects why we’re there. We’ll buy long white jellabiya shirts and white caps so we look like Arabs.” A few days later, they boarded a train dressed in their Arab clothing. They sat

in different coaches so that no one would suspect they were together. When they arrived, they went in different directions, each to a village where they knew Dinka children were held as slaves. James felt a bit odd in his Arab clothing, but he soon noticed that the disguise worked. No one noticed him as he wandered between the villages and the tent camps. When people asked him what he was doing, he would answer, “I’m searching for my cows”. But instead James and his friends were searching for slave children. When they

Why is James a nominee? James Aguer Alic has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for his stubborn fight against child slavery in Sudan. Children, who are kidnapped by militiamen, are forced to work from sunrise to sunset. They are forced to sleep outdoors with the animals, eating leftovers, and they are beaten and whipped. After 20 years of struggle, James and his helpers have liberated around 3000 children, and their fight to free the rest of the children goes on. James has been imprisoned 33 times, and four of his colleagues have been killed while trying to free children. Today James and his colleagues have the support of Sudan’s government for the freedom of slave children.

James with some of his Arab helpers.  comic strip by Magnus Bergmar (text) and K arin Södergren (illustr ations)

STOP, or I’ll shoot you!


Read the whole comic strip about how James saves slave children at www.worldschildrensprize.org


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saw a dark-skinned child tending goats or cows or fetching water near an Arab village, they would ask the child’s name, where he or she came from and what he or she was doing there. They also asked if the child knew of other Dinka children in the area. The group also made friends with Arabs, who helped them gather names. James always took new paths so that no one would recognise him or start to wonder what he was doing. Each evening, James and his friends would meet to discuss what they’d found out during the day. They discovered that there were far more slave children than they had first thought, and wrote down all their names. When they had gathered a number of names in an area, James would go to the sultan, the Arab leader there. “Most honoured sultan! I know that you do not think slavery is a good thing, but your people have enslaved many of my people, the Dinkas. Many of our children are the slaves of families in this area,” James would say politely. A good many of the sultans did think that slavery was wrong, and helped James to free the children. But others threatened him, and ordered him never to show his face there again. 


imprisoned 33 times Moses and Elisabeth, pictured here, were kidnapped to be slaves, but James Aguer Alic saved them. For 20 years, James has been fighting to free thousands of slave children. It has often been a dangerous task.


udan, which means ‘the black people’s country’ in Arabic, is the largest country in Africa. The differences between northern and southern Sudan are very great. They’re almost like two different countries. There are huge deserts and pastures in the north, as well as the capital city, Khartoum. The people there, at least half of the country’s 30 million inhabitants, belong to various Arab peoples and speak Arabic. Most of them are Muslims. In the south there are savannahs, swamps and green pastures. There, the majority of people (some three million) are Dinkas, and speak Dinka. Most of them are Christians or follow traditional religions. The Dinka people have been


I’ll take the woman, the boy and…

hardest hit by slavery. People in the south are poorer, although the land there holds valuable natural resources such as oil, gold, uranium and water. The civil war was partly because of these natural resources, and religion. Villages were bombed in southern Sudan, where government soldiers collaborated with the militia. The militia kidnapped some 40,000 women and children and enslaved them. These children have been forced to work for Arab families in the north, sleeping outdoors with the animals and being beaten and whipped. The rescuers James has been saving children from slavery for 20 years. So far, he has rescued

I’ll take the other boys!

5000 slaves, 3000 of them children. “It’s my people’s children that they’ve kidnapped,” says James. “Nothing can stop me from continuing to search for them. If we don’t, they’ll continue being captives.” James has been imprisoned 33 times for fighting for the rights of enslaved children, and four of his colleagues have been murdered while trying to free children. At first, Sudan’s government denied that there was slavery in the country. But it has changed its policy and set up an organisation, CEAWC, to put an end to slavery. James and his helpers are members of CEAWC. 

I’m glad that mum’s with me.


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enslaved and bullied When Manol was ten, he was forced to become a slave. The slave owner’s sons and their friends bullied him. But then one day...


anol’s experience as a slave begins early one morning, when the militiamen ride into his village. Manol, his mother, father and sister flee to the other side of the dry riverbed. But the other side is full of militiamen on horseback and soon the family is surrounded. All the people in the village are made to line up and their cows and goats are herded together. Then the long march begins. They walk and walk. They are given no food or water. “I must keep up,” Manol thinks. He sees his mother carrying his little sister. She looks so tired. “Please, mum, you’ve got to keep up, please...” Dangerous escape At nightfall, they make camp. Suddenly three militiamen ride away at a gallop

across the savannah. After a while, they return. Behind the horses, two men are being dragged along. “This is what happens to those who try to flee!” shouts one of the riders, and kills the men. The next morning, Manol’s mother whispers that his father escaped during the night. “No,” Manol thinks, “They’ll kill him!” When the soldiers discover that Manol’s dad has fled, they ride off. After a few hours, they return without his father. He’s still alive! After six more days of marching, they arrive at the slave market. An Arab takes Manol as his slave, while Manol’s mother and sister are sold to another man. After three days, Manol and his master arrive at a huge tent camp where they join the man’s wife and five children. One of the master’s sons says:

Manol swings in the mango tree, pushed by his friend Valentino who was a slave too.

“You’re our slave, aren’t you?” He spits on the ground in front of Manol. The Arab’s wife takes him to a place behind one of the tents where the goats are crowded into a fenced enclosure. “You’ll sleep here,” she says and points at the ground. Manol gets neither a mattress nor a blanket. The nights are the worst. That’s when he thinks about his mum and dad. “Where are they now? Are they alive?” he wonders, gazing up at the stars. He dreams about home and their big mango tree. Axe in the foot Manol gets up early. He is cold after a night in the goat

pen. He gets no breakfast and has to start work straight away. First he washes up, then tidies the tent and fetches water. Then he leads the cows to pasture. The pasture is far away and the boys from the surrounding camps do all they can to make Manol’s life a misery. “Look at the slave! Look how dirty he is! That’s why he has to sleep outdoors. He stinks, too!” the boys shout, and drive their cows straight into Manol’s herd. A couple of boys approach him threateningly. They shove and kick him so he can’t keep his herd in order. The other boys chase his cows, so that they run in the wrong direction, into the other herds.

Your mother is dead. Don’t try to escape!

Every night I think of mum and dad, and I cry.

Night after night, my body trembles.


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Manol makes a fire on his family’s farm.

“No, no! Stop it!” cries Manol. Manol manages to gather all the cows but one. What will he tell his master when he returns to the camp? “You little swine,” the master shouts when he sees that a cow is missing. He throws an axe at Manol’s feet, opening up a ten-centimetre-long cut. “If this ever happens again, I swear... Pen the goats and fetch some water!”

Manol is so hungry he can hardly walk. All day long he only gets water to drink, and at night he gets a few scraps to eat alone outside the tent. He is always hungry. Saved by James The family’s children can do whatever they like to Manol and the master and his wife say nothing. The children beat him, say cruel things and tease him because he has no parents. One of the

boys drives his spear into Manol’s knee, giving him a long scar. Manol doesn’t believe he’ll ever see his family again. He’ll be called slave forever, and beaten like a dog. But one day after more than two years, a stranger comes and talks to his master, then takes Manol with him and leaves the camp. “Am I to be his slave now?” Manol wonders as he walks alongside the tall man in a white jellabiya robe and

turban. They stop at each camp they pass and fetch other slave children as they go along. Manol recognises some of them from home, and at last he can speak Dinka again. That night when they pitch camp, the tall man roasts a newly slaughtered goat over the fire. Finally the children fall sleep on full stomachs for the first time in years, huddled together for warmth. After six days’ march, they come to a large marketplace where Dinkas and Arabs trade in cows, sugar, fabric, tea and medicines. It is also a Peace Market, where freed slaves are brought, and parents come to search for their children. Manol and the other children are told to sit under a tree and wait. As soon as word gets out that they are there, more and more adults arrive. They walk around the tree to see if their children are in the group. Manol looks around, trying to spot the faces of his mum or dad. Several hours pass. At last, in the afternoon, he hears a familiar voice: “Manol! Manol! It’s you, my boy!” Manol’s dad runs

That way, we can move about without arousing suspicion.

The children are prisoners of the Arabs. I am a Dinka, the same as most of the abducted children. But Arabs help us too.

We dress like the people who have taken the children.


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and the slave girl

The mango tree shades them as Manol plays with his sister.

towards him and lifts him into the air. They hold each other for a long time. James saves sister “Where are your mother and sister?” his dad asks. “I don’t know,” Manol answers, and grows sad again. “We got separated after you disappeared that night.” Three months later, Manol’s mum and little sister are freed by James Aguer. Today, the family is finally

together again. “Imagine how nice it is to be home and sit under the mango tree again,” says Manol. “If I had some money, I’d buy a cow, a goat and some clothes. The Arabs stole all 25 of our cows and our goats too. And I wish I could go to school.” “I want to learn all about farming so I can plant trees and durra. I want loads of trees when I grow up. Without trees, life is pretty boring, isn’t it?” he asks his

friend Valentino, who also used to be a slave. Manol would rather think about the future than the past. There’s so much he wants to do now that he is no longer a slave. 

Where do you come from and what’s your name?

Alek Wek is one of the world’s most famous fashion models. She is also a refugee from southern Sudan – and she’ll never forget it. Alek is a patron and Honorary Adult Friend of the WCPRC. Here she is with Abouk, who was freed from slavery by James Aguer.

Even though Alek is now a supermodel, she cannot forget her friends and relatives in Sudan, who have been forced to live through civil war and famine. She often talks about the situation there and helps to raise money.

I’ve met five abducted children.

I’m called Adut. I was abducted and taken here. What did he want? He spoke Dinka…

And I’ve met three! Let’s visit the Sultan tomorrow.


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NOMINEE • Pages 46–50

Prateep Ungsongtham Hata

Why is Prateep a nominee? Prateep Ungsongtham Hata has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for her 40-year-long struggle for the rights of Thailand’s most vulnerable children. Since she was 16, Prateep has spent all her time fighting to give tens of thousands of poor children in slums and rural areas a better life and the chance to go to school. Prateep’s organisation offers children financial support; runs fifteen pre-schools, a school for children with hearing impairments, and homes for vulnerable children; builds school libraries; lends money via “The Bank of the Poor”, and runs “The Poor People’s Radio Station”, where children can make their voices heard. Prateep’s life is threatened by criminal gangs in Bangkok’s slums. They don’t like her giving poor children an education and a chance to say ’no’ to dangerous work, drugs, prostitution and criminality.

Ungsongtham Hata was born in Klong Toey, Bangkok’s biggest slum. When she was ten she scraped rust off the ships in the harbour to survive. But in her dreams, she went to school... Today Prateep is 56, and for 40 years she has been helping tens of thousands of poor children in Thailand to a better life, and to go to school.


rateep’s story begins even before she was born in a little village by the sea south of Bangkok. Her father, Thong You, a fisherman, had heard that workers were needed in Bangkok harbour. He decided to move there with his family. Everywhere, poor people from the countryside crowded into the harbour hoping for a better life in the city. They started building little hovels of sheet-metal, crating paper

and old boarding. That’s how the slum Klong Toey came into being. She sold sweets When Prateep was born, her father worked in the harbour, but everyone in the family had to help and make money. “I was only four when I went round selling sweets that my mum had made,” recalls Prateep. Every morning she gave the family’s ducks water and looked for the eggs they had laid.

Prateep sold the eggs they didn’t need in the marketplace. Every day she also helped her mother to fetch water two kilometres away. Her mother, Suk, wanted Prateep to begin school, but there was no school in Klong Toey. And because Prateep, like all the other poor children there, had no birth certificate, she couldn’t begin at a public school in town. Without a birth certificate children are not considered Thai citizens, and have no right to go to school. Finally, when Prateep was seven, Suk found an inexpensive private school that would take her in. “I was overjoyed! The first time I entered the classroom was the best day of my life,” Prateep did well there. She didn’t mind that all the other children had nicer clothes – she was just happy to be in school in the first place. In the afternoons, Prateep sold sweets. She had a lot to do, but she was happy.

Prateep thought it was unfair that the poor children couldn’t go to school.

Prateep started a school in her home.


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forms. I was wearing ragged, dirty clothes. When they asked why I had quit school, I felt foolish and started to cry. It all seemed so unfair. But right then and there, I made up my mind. Somehow I would go back to school again!” Prateep gave most of the money she made to her mother, but saved a little for herself, too. When she had worked in the harbour for four years, she had saved enough money to begin at an inexpensive night school in town. “My dream had come true! I went to school evenings, and in the day I worked in the harbour. Often I was so tired that I fell asleep on the bus to and from school.” Her first school! During the years in the harbour, Prateep had met many other children who worked and had a hard life. They didn’t have birth certificates either, and Prateep thought it was unfair. At 16, she decided to start her own school! “My sister Prakong and I set up a classroom in the downstairs room of our family’s little hut on stilts. Then we went to the neigh-

One in six of Eight milli the world’s popula tio on of them live in Tha n live in slums . lion Thai children h iland. Thre ave no op e milschool. M portunit y any of the to go to m are forc and at lea ed to work st 3 0 ,0 0 0 instead, children a life of pro re trappe stitution. d in a In order to children, help thes Pra e poor Prateep F teep and her organ oundation isation, th , DPF, do e D u ang the follow ing: • 2,500 p oor childre n get finan they can g cial suppo o to schoo rt so that l. • At Prate ep’s 15 pre -s c hools, the and nutritio chil na healthcare l food, as well as fre dren get milk e dental a . nd • A schoo l for childre n w The familie it s cannot a h hearing impairmen fford to se ts. the expen nd their ch sive schoo ildren to ls for child and hard o ren who a f hearing. re deaf • In two h omes, the most vulne have been rable child assaulted ren, who , abused o problems r who have are offere drug d a chanc • Build sc e to start a hool librari gain. es in villag to children es and off there so th er supp at they can Give partic go to scho ort ular suppo ol. rt a living so that they c to girls to help them an remain earn girls leave in the villa the village ge. If the they run a up in pros h igh risk of titution. ending • “The Ba nk of the P oor” lends people, w mon h o c a n n ot afford to b ey to poor ordinary b orrow mon a nks . ey from • “The Po or People ’s Radio S to make th tation” allo eir voices ws childre heard. n

On the first day, 29 children came to Prateep’s school; soon they were over a hundred.


The worst day But one day when Prateep was ten and had just finished fourth form, her mum told her that they couldn’t afford to keep her in school. “It was the most miserable day of my life. I couldn’t stop crying.” At first Prateep started work at a fireworks factory, then later at a factory that made pots. On days when the factories didn’t need her, Prateep worked in the harbour. “I scraped rust from the ships. Since I was so little, I had to crawl below deck and clean tight places where the adults couldn’t get in. It was scary and dangerous, we had no safety gear. Sometimes when we had worked the whole day, the foreman said we had to stay there and work at night as well. Many of the children took drugs to cope. Some nights, I did too. It made me sick, but at least it kept me awake.” One morning when Prateep was on her way to the harbour, something happened that changed her life completely. “I met my old classmates. They were on their way to school in their neat uni-


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bours and told them that they could send their children to our school for one baht a day (25 cents). Already the first day children turned up who couldn’t pay, but they got to stay anyway.” In the first week, Prateep taught 29 children. They sat on newspapers that she spread on the floor. Talk of the school spread like lightning. After a month, 60 children were there, and soon over a hundred children stood outside Prateep’s house every morning! “I read stories to them and taught them to read, write and do sums. I found that many of them hadn’t eaten anything before they came, so I often cooked rice to give them before we began.” “Over and over again I tried to get the authorities to approve the school. I was afraid they would force me to close it otherwise. I don’t know how many officials I visited just to say: ‘Please sir, the poor children in Klong Toey also need an education. We’re worth just as much as any other children. And since we can’t attend other schools, please acknowledge our school!’ I also told them I wanted them to help us poor kids get birth certificates.” “Mostly, they laughed at me and said that the poor aren’t real people. They

threatened to arrest me if I didn’t stop teaching.” Finally, though, Prateep won and her school was recognised by the authorities. But it took eight years! More teachers started there, teaching materials began coming in, and at last a whole new school was built. Helped tens of thousands of children When Prateep was 26, she was given a prize of 20,000 dollars. She didn’t keep any of it, but used it all to start an organisation, the Duang Prateep Foundation, to be able to help yet more children. Today, Prateep has been fighting for the rights of poor children in Thailand for 40 years. Tens of thousands of poor children now have a better life and the chance to learn. Some 100 people work for the Duang Prateep Foundation, and most of them are from Klong Toey. “My dream is for every child in Thailand to have a good life, so that the Duang Prateep Foundation won’t be needed any longer. But still several million children must work instead of going to school. Others are forced into prostitution and many end up in drug abuse and criminality. I will fight for the rights of these children as long as I live.” 

Deuan gets financial support so that she can go to Prateep's school for children with hearing impairments.


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ist’ Kea ‘doesn’t exca te, so I never got


certifi “I don’t have a birth a. Many ry school,” says Ke to go to an ordina and so , no proof of birth poor children have They s. ered Thai citizen they’re not consid denied e ar e authorities and ’don’t exist’ for th . r children have the rights that othe

escaped from the wicked man When Kea became an orphan, she was badly treated in the village where she lived. So she ran away to the city, joined a gang, and at the age of 8 was sentenced to 3 years in juvenile prison. When Kea was 11, her ’stepmother’ sold her to a man for US$ 50. A dreadful time lay before her. But today, Prateep has helped Kea live a new life.


n a nearby city, I met other abandoned children, and they became my friends. We lived in the slums. We took care of one another, and they became my new family. “We often got into fights with other local gangs. Once my best friend stabbed a girl quite seriously. When the police came and asked who had hurt the girl, I told them I had. I loved my friend, and she still had family of her

own. I had no family, so I knew no one would miss me if I went to jail. The police believed me, and I was sentenced to 3 years in juvenile prison school. I had never thought the sentence would be so long! Since I was only 8, I was the youngest intern, and the older girls took care of me. It wasn’t really a school, more like a prison. We didn’t have a single lesson in 3 years.”

Sold for 50 dollars “When I was released from juvenile prison school, I rejoined my friends. But some days when I felt lonely and sad, I sniffed glue to try and forget. One day, a woman and her daughter began talking to me. The woman said that she was my dad’s second wife, and that she had been looking for me since he died. At last, maybe my life would be better! “One day a man who knew my new ‘mum’ came to visit. He lived near Bangkok, and he said he needed home help. ‘Mum’ suggested that I go with him and work a few months to make money for the family. I thought that sounded OK since I knew I’d soon be home again. Before we left, the man gave ‘mum’ 2,000

baht (50 dollars) in advance. I didn’t give it much thought then, but I soon realised that I’d been tricked. “When we got to the man’s house, he wasn’t kind any more. There was a very high wall around the house, and it looked scary – almost like a prison. I was frightened. Inside, there were other girls my age, but the man said that we mustn’t talk to each other. At fi rst I didn’t understand what kind of place it was, but after a while I discovered that men came to the house every night to visit the other girls. They went to different rooms where the men forced the girls to do nasty things. At fi rst, all I had to do was tidy up, but I was terrified and couldn’t sleep.” Ran for her life! “One evening, the man who had bought me came and 49

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“We don’t just learn to read and write here. We also learn how to grow vegetables and cook,” says Kea.

Adults should learn about the Rights of the Child! “Here with Prateep we learn a lot about the Rights of the Child. I think that’s good, but actually it’s the grown-ups who should learn about the Rights of the Child. They’re the ones who must learn what is right and wrong since they’re the ones who hurt us,” says Kea.

said: ‘It’s time now!’ He tried doing disgusting things with me, but I refused. He got furious, and started beating me with an electric cord all over my body – in my face, on my legs and back. After that, he or other men would often come to my room. I tried to defend myself as best I could, but it wasn’t easy. I was only 11, after all. “One night when I’d been in the house for three months, I got fed up. I talked to Pun, a girl who’d become my friend. We decided to run away in the morning while everyone was asleep. “Silently, we sneaked to the wall. I stood on Pun’s shoulders since I weighed least, and managed to climb over. Then I opened the gate from outside, and we ran away.

“We had enough money to take the bus to Bangkok. “We went to a market. As we stood there, some policemen approached. They got suspicious when they saw that we both had bruises and sores on our faces after all the beatings. When they asked us what had happened, I began crying, and we told them everything. “We were lucky - the policemen were kind and took care of us. Since I had no family, I got to stay with the police a few days. Then I met Prateep, and she promised to take care of me. She has given me a second chance. I have a home, and I can even go to school!” 

The Rights of the Child on Children’s Radio! “Grown-ups don’t listen to children in Thailand. They only give us orders without finding out what we really think,” says Duang, 14. But in Klong Toey, many adults listen to the children’s community radio station, which tells them about the Rights of the Child. “Obviously the grown-ups take us more seriously when we’re on the radio!” says Duang laughing. Hitting children is wrong! Some 130,000 people live in Klong Toey, so Jib, Som and Duang have a big audience when they’re on the radio. “Radio is good because you reach so many people at the same time. I knew that many children in my neighbourhood were being beaten at home, and through our radio show we could explain to everyone in Klong Toey in a simple way that it isn’t right to hit children,” says Som, 13.


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Nominee • Pages 51–55


The Dunga Mothers It all started with a boy named Ferdinand and his mother Rita in the village of Dunga by Lake Victoria in Kenya. Although both have since died of AIDS, it was Ferdinand who suggested working together to help AIDS orphans. At first the group was called St. Rita after Ferdinand's mother. Now most of these mothers have formed the Dunga Mothers. They are themselves poor, but have been fighting to help orphaned children for over ten years.


erdinand was born with HIV. Both his mother and father were suffering from AIDS and, when they died, Ferdinand was taken in by his aunt. As the years went by Ferdinand’s health got worse. He started to talk more and more about how they should try to help other children whose parents had died of AIDS, so that they could get the same opportunities as he had had. There was a growing number of children in the village who were alone after losing their parents to AIDS, and many of them had to drop out of school because they couldn’t afford to carry on. Many ended up living on the

streets of the city of Kisumu, since the only chance of survival was to beg. In the end, twenty mothers decided to work together to try and take care of as many orphaned children as possible. They had no money, but they went ahead anyway. Ferdinand was overjoyed. He was very keen to help out, but he never got the chance. He died in the sixth grade. Everyone helps out From the very first day, many orphaned children came. They needed food, clothes, school uniforms and somewhere to live. At first the mothers didn’t



really know what to do because they didn’t have any money. A few of them started baking bread and cakes that they sold in town. Others grew vegetables to sell. After a while they earned enough to buy a cow, so they started selling milk too. Then they decided that on the first Saturday of each month all the mothers would try and put aside at least 200 shillings (2.70 US dollars) to help the children. Many of the mothers are widows, unemployed and have their own children to look after. To them, 200 shillings is a fortune. But everyone gave as much as

Why have the Dunga Mothers been nominated? The Dunga Mothers (formerly The Mothers of St. Rita) have been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for their unpaid and difficult struggle to help children living in the villages around Kisumu in Kenya who have lost their parents to AIDS. These are children who could otherwise end up living on the streets facing a life of drugs, violence, crime and prostitution. The mothers fight for the rights of orphaned children and for them to have the same opportunities in life as other children. Despite the fact that most of the mothers are themselves very poor, they provide 70 orphaned children with food, clothes, medicine, schooling, a home, new families and love.

Children need families The Dunga Mothers believe that children should live with families and not in an orphanage. They want children to lead as normal lives as possible and be part of the village community. They aren’t able to look after all orphaned children on their own and always try to find new families for them. But most of the local villagers are too poor to take care of more children. 51

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Visiting the children “I walk around in the villages and visit the children we take care of. I sit and talk to them and try to make sure that they are alright. If the children need anything, we mothers bring it up when we meet, and we try to help as much as we can. I feel awful when I see children suffering. Since many of the children have experienced terrible things, I believe the most important thing we can do is to give them love and hope.” Judith Kondiek

Helps three boys Lucia Auma Okore

Takes care of three brothers Mary Awino

Plays and talks with the children Rose Adhiambo

Sells fish Mary Okinda

Takes care of five children Jerusa Ade Yogo

Bakes bread and talks with the children

Collects papyrus to sell Birgita Were Mbola


Martha Adhiambo

they could, and those who couldn’t afford to donate helped out in other ways. Some did the children’s laundry and cooked their meals. Others became second mothers and let the orphans move in with them. The right of every child The Dunga Mothers have worked hard for over ten years to help orphaned children lead normal lives. Seventy orphans are currently

receiving food, clothes, medical care, education, homes, new families and love from the mothers. “Every child has a right to be loved. If we don’t help the children they’ll end up on the streets in town surrounded by drugs, crime and prostitution. They can’t go to school and they have no real future. These children come from our village so it’s our duty to try and give them a good start in life.

We’d like to give all the children a proper lunch every day, so that they’d get at least one square meal a day. There are over 1,500 orphaned children here.” “Our dream is that there’ll soon be a cure for AIDS so that many more children can live with their parents. Then we won’t be needed any more. But not a week goes by without new children knocking on our door for help. We always try to do

what we can, even when we don’t have much to spare. We never turn a child away.” Kenya is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV and AIDS. There are an estimated 1.1 million AIDS orphans. The area around Lake Victoria in western Kenya, where the village of Dunga is located, is the most seriously affected. 


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wants to be like the mothers

Penina misses her mother very much and thinks about her every day. But she is very grateful for the help she and her brothers get from the mothers. Now they can continue to live together and go to school.


enina often sits on her own thinking about her mother. “In the evenings she used to sing songs and tell stories to me and my brothers. We didn’t have much money but at least we had each other.” “When I was in second grade everything changed. Mum fell ill. Sometimes I had to stay home from school for several weeks. I had to take care of her instead of the other way around. I did the cooking, washing and cleaning. I’d bathe Mum and help her go to the toilet several times a day. I combed her hair, too.” “We slept in the same bed and I was often woken in the middle of the night by Mum whispering that she needed a drink of water. I often had to comfort her. I was very sad myself, but I didn’t want to worry her. I cried a lot, though, when she wasn’t looking.” Penina will never forget when her mother died. “That night I sat with my brothers outside the house and cried. My older brother Eric tried to comfort us but it was no use.” Penina missed her mother a lot. She often sat outside

the house in the middle of the night staring into space instead of sleeping. After a few months Penina started school again. At fi rst she found it hard to concentrate, but it got easier after a while. Her big brother Eric fished and took all the casual jobs he could to support himself and his brothers and sister, but he knew that it was impossible for him to take care of four brothers and a sister all on his own. Saved Some of the other children in the village had told Penina about how the mothers helped them. Penina plucked up the courage to ask for help. Since that day, Penina and her brothers have received lots of help. “We all go to school now and whenever we don’t have enough food they provide that too. And if we need medicine for malaria or something we can go to the pharmacy and the mothers pay for it.” But the best part about being helped by the

mothers is that Penina and her brothers can carry on living in the village together. “It’s important that we stick together now that we’ve lost Mum and Dad. It would’ve been much worse to have ended up in an orphanage. This way we remain a family. I love the mothers and call them all ‘Mum’ now. When I grow up I want to be like the mothers and help other orphaned children.” 

Count to 10 in Luo and Swahili! There are over 40 ethnic groups in Kenya and as many languages. Although Kenya's official language is Swahili, the children you've been reading about belong to the Luo people and speak Luo. Here's how to count to 10 in Luo and Swahili: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.



Achiel Ariyo Adek Ang”wen Abich Auchiel Abiryo Aboro Ochiko Apar

Moja Mbili Tatu Nne Tano Sita Saba Nane Tisa Kumi

Listen to children counting in Luo and Swahili at www.worldschildrensprize. org

A ball from a sock Simply stuff a sock with plastic bags. Then you're all set to play Miss or football.

A game not to miss! In the afternoons Penina often plays Miss with her brothers and friends. They make a ball by stuffing a sock with plastic bags. For the people standing in the middle, the trick is to avoid being hit when one of the two throwers suddenly throws the ball at them instead of to the other thrower. Whoever gets hit by the ball is out of the game.


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We get help from the mothers What's it like in heaven, Mum? “My dad died before I was born and my mum died when I was four. It was a long time ago and if I hadn’t had a photo I wouldn’t have been able to remember what she looked like. My aunt has the photo and she lets me look at it sometimes. My mother and I are very similar, which is nice because she was very beautiful. She left some dresses behind that she wanted me to have. I can’t wait until I can wear them. It’s great having something that belonged to my mother but it’s also sad. I believe that she’s in heaven now

and that she’s happy there. I try talking to her sometimes when I pray, but I’d rather be there with her. I can’t wait until the day we meet again. The first thing I'm going to say to her is ‘Jambo!’ (hello!), then I’ll ask her how she is. Then I’ll tell her that I miss her very much, but that I’m doing OK anyway. I’ll tell her that the mothers help me to buy a school uniform and books so that I can go to school, and that I get food whenever I need it.” Winnie Awino, 9

Dad was my best friend

No help with homework

“My dad died when I was nine years old, but I sometimes still cry when I look at his photo. I miss him terribly. I used to help him plant maize, sugar cane and other vegetables. We used to talk a lot while we worked. And if I had a problem at school, I’d tell him about it and it’d make me feel better. When we finished with the planting we’d go down to the lake for a swim. It was great fun. I miss it. Me and my dad were like best friends. My mum’s still alive but she’s often ill. I’m scared that she’s going to die too, leaving me and my brothers and sisters all on our own.” Victor Otieno, 14

“My mum died when I was very young so I don’t remember her that clearly. My dad died last year and I miss him very much. I used to enjoy studying with him. He’d always help me with my homework, especially maths. My dad was very good at explaining difficult things in a way I could understand. There’s no one to help me with my homework now. I find it hard to keep up at school and I’m lagging behind the rest of the class. I don’t have anything to remember my parents by, which is a real shame. I’d love to have had something, but my dad’s second wife took all his things – the table, chairs, his tools, everything…” Maritha Awuor, 13


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Mum told me stories “I was very young when my father died so I don’t remember much about him. But I remember my mother clearly because she died when I was ten. When she was alive she used to weave papyrus rugs to sell. When she sat there weaving she used to tell me and my brothers and sisters stories. We used to laugh a lot and I really miss those moments. I often think about all the bad things that have happened to me and sometimes I worry and fret so much that it makes me ill. It’s worst when I’m alone, as all the thoughts come back to me and I get sad. If I could say something to my mother I’d tell her that I wished she was here so that we could talk for a while. Then I’d tell her that I love her and that I miss her.” Erick Odhiambo, 14

Watching football with dad “My mum died when I was 11 and my dad when I was 12. When mum was alive we used to go to the market together. I always wanted to help her and I’d carry the basket full of tomatoes, onions and other vegetables that she’d bought. Dad used to take me to town to watch football almost every Saturday. Those were the happiest moments of my life. My best memory was when my favourite team, Gor Mayia, beat Telecom 2-1. Dad had a bicycle and he gave me rides into town whenever there was a match on. I haven’t seen a football match since Dad died as I don’t have a bicycle and can’t afford the bus or bicycle-taxi fare to the stadium. It’s 25 Kenyan shillings (0.30 US dollars) to get the bicycletaxi into town, and that’s much too expensive for me. When Dad was still alive he gave me this t-shirt. It’s the only thing I have to remember him by. I always think of my father when I wear it.” Dennis Otieno, 14

has many victims AIDS deaths: Adults: 25 million Children: 4 million

HIV positive: The world: 33.2 million Africa (south of Sahara): 22 million Asia: 5 million Latin America: 1.7 million Eastern Europe and Central Asia: 1.5 million North America: 1.2 million Western and Central Europe: 730,000 Middle East and North Africa: 380,000 Other countries: 690,000 Infection rate: The world: 7400 people a day (2.7 million people per year). 1013 of these are children under 15 (370,000 per year).

Dad bought me chocolate “My father died when I was in fourth grade at school. I was ten. My mother died when I was about to start fifth grade. When my parents were alive we’d sometimes go into town at weekends. My father often bought us chocolate. I loved it! Sometimes he’d even buy me a dress or some jeans. We used to visit restaurants and have fizzy drinks and meat. I was very happy. We’d take a bicycle-taxi or bus into town. Nowadays I have to walk into town because the bus is much too expensive. It takes more than four hours to walk there and back. I still have some of my mother’s clothes to remind me of her. I look at them often and memories of my mother come flooding back to me. I miss my parents most of all when people are nasty to me. If I could tell my mother anything it would be to ask her to come back and take care of me. My life would be a lot easier and more fun than it is now.” Winnie Anyango, 13

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HIV positive children: The world: 2.1 million Africa (south of Sahara): 1.8 million AIDS orphans: The world: 15 million children Africa (south of Sahara): 11.6 million children Other countries: 3.4 million children Kenya hard hit: Total HIV positive: 1.7 million HIV positive children: 160,000 Dying of AIDS: 110,000 people per year Total AIDS deaths: 1.5 million Number of AIDS orphans: 1.1 million children How many people are dying of AIDS? 5500 people die of AIDS every day (2 million per year A child dies of AIDS every other minute (290,000 per year)


09-02-20 09.26.04

NOMINEE • Pages 56–63

Nelson Mandela &


Why is Mandela a nominee? Nelson Mandela has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for his lifelong struggle to free the children of South Africa from apartheid, and for his unwavering support for their rights. After 27 years in prison he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa, a country where children of all skin colours gained equal rights for the first time. Nelson continues to help South Africa’s children and demands respect for their rights. He runs his own children’s foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF), which helps children whose parents have died of AIDS, street children, disabled children and poor children. As president he donated half of his salary to poor children and when he received the Nobel Peace Prize he gave part of the prize money to help street children. Nelson not only wants all children to feel loved, he also wants to give them a better future. That’s why he also gives children the chance to develop their talents.

Graça Machel and Nelson Mandela are married. They are the best friends of the children of Mozambique and South Africa. They speak out against violations of children’s rights whenever necessary, and both run organisations that promote the rights of the child and help children in need.


raça Machel’s father died before she was born and her mother had to provide for seven children: Graça and her six broth­ ers. Before he died, her father said that his unborn child was to go to school, so when Graça was seven she started the first grade. Her teacher was called Ruth and was a missionary from the USA. All the chil­ dren were afraid of her. But little Graça wrote a letter to Ruth thanking her for everything she’d learnt. Graça won a scholarship to study in the capital city, Maputo. On Sundays she went to church, and Graça thought it was unfair that only boys could become chairman of the church youth group. She stood up in church and demanded equal rights for girls. On the children’s side When Graça was growing up, Mozambique was a Portuguese colony and nearly all the Africans were poor. Graça began fighting for the country’s freedom. The Portuguese wanted to throw her in jail and she was forced to flee to Tanzania. On a secret mission in northern

Mozambique she met Samora Machel, who was the leader of the liberation front. They got married in 1975, the year that Mozambique gained inde­ pendence. Samora became the President of Mozambique and Graça was made Minister of Education. Many children were able to start school. But soon another war broke out. Samora died in a mysteri­ ous plane crash in 1986. A couple of years later, Graça got a job at the UN so that she could tell the world about how children are affected by war. Most of all she wanted to help child soldiers and children that had been injured by landmines. When it came to children’s rights Graça would stand up to anyone. As soon as a peace treaty was signed in Mozam­ bique, the UN began clear­ ing the mines.

Graça founded FDC, an organisation in Mozam­ bique whose aims include protecting children from life-threatening diseases. “We buy vaccines and make sure that children don’t die of preventable ill­ nesses,” she says. Graça also helps children who are too poor to go to school.


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a & Graça Machel

“I know what it’s like. I was just as poor when I was little,” says Graça. Thanks to her efforts, half the children in Mozambique’s schools will soon be girls. Before, many parents could only afford to send their sons to school. The girls had to stay at home and work.

Salary to the children Graça Machel married Nelson Mandela on his 80th birthday. They both love children and have fought for children’s rights for most of their lives. Nelson grew up in poverty too. When he got to the big city of Johannesburg he came into contact with apartheid, which means ‘apartness’. Blacks were separated from whites and they were treated badly. Nelson could not accept the way that people were treated differently because of the colour of their skin. He didn’t want his children – or any South African children – to grow up with apartheid. He said that he was prepared to die to give children a better future. His struggle against apartheid and for freedom for South Africa’s children cost him 27 years in prison! Nelson was 72 when he was released. Despite being so badly treated, he did not want to take revenge on those responsible for apartheid. He wanted blacks and whites to live

in harmony and to build a better future together. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, Nelson said: “South Africa’s children shall play in open fields, no longer tortured by hunger or disease or threatened with abuse... Children are our greatest treasure.” Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994. He made sure that all the unfair laws were abolished. Today, black and white children can be friends and go to the same schools. All children have equal rights. But Nelson Mandela didn’t stop there. As president he donated half his salary to poor children and when he received the Nobel Peace Prize he gave part of the prize money to help street children. Today, Nelson has retired and runs his own children’s foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF), which helps children whose parents have died of AIDS, street children, disabled children and poor children. 

WHY IS GRAÇA A NOMINEE? Graça Machel has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for her long and courageous struggle for children’s rights, mainly in Mozambique. She fights for girls’ right to go to school. When she was Minister of Education, the number of schoolchildren in Mozambique rose by 80% . Graça’s goal is to have as many girls as boys in schools. In rural areas, most girls have to work and are married off at an early age. Graça started a theatre group to teach parents the importance of education for girls. She has schools built where there are none or not enough. After the floods of 2000 Graça and her organisation, FDC, gave students new textbooks and gave many families new homes. Graça also fights against all forms of violence and abuse against children. Internationally Graça has worked to help child victims of war and to stop the trafficking of children.

At www.worldschildrensprize. org you can read the comic strip ‘The Black Pimpernel’, all about Nelson Mandela’s life.


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Graça and Mandela “Graça Machel is the world’s bravest woman. She’s not afraid of anybody and always helps children – especially those in need, like street children. I read in the newspaper that Mandela is just as good. He’s helped South Africa a lot.” Faustino, 10, Maputo

“I love Mandela. We have the same birthday. I once sent him a birthday card and asked him if he wanted to be my extra dad.” Kefiloe, 10, Soweto

“Graça Machel really loves children. She protects them from AIDS and builds schools. She’s also got lovely clothes. Once she came to our school. We sang for her and she was so happy she started dancing.” Lina, 13, Changalane

“Mama Graça has shown us the way forward. She’s proved that girls can do everything boys can. She’s helped me become the person I am today.” Anabela, 14, Chaukwe

“Nelson Mandela has a good heart. He helps disabled children and has shown that people can improve themselves. He was in prison for 27 years, but he didn’t want revenge. He wanted peace and to show that black and white people can live in harmony. That’s fantastic!” Phumeza, 14, disabled, Alexandra

“For me, Nelson Mandela’s a hero. He always thinks the best of people and he trusts children. He knows that they have talent and that they can succeed if only they get the chance. We’re lucky to have him.” Abae, 12, Sebokeng

“Mandela fought for our rights and saved our country. Things would have been terrible for us now if he hadn’t. If I met him I’d say: ‘Pleased to meet you – and thanks for our freedom!’” Zanele, 12, Soweto


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Mandela’s greatest gift to the children

Freedom and equal rights


live in Khayelitsha, outside Cape Town in South Africa. I asked my mum and my Gogo (gran) to explain what apartheid was. You see, there is no apartheid in my life. There is nothing I cannot do just because I am black.” My gran’s story Gogo says she came to Cape Town from the Transkei, a poor ‘homeland’, which was what the apartheid government called the areas where they forced the black people to live. In those days all black people had to carry

Like a dog “One day, I saw the pass inspector through the window. He was going from house to house checking the maids’ passes. I phoned the lady I worked for. She told me to hide in a cupboard until she got there. Then I heard her telling the inspector that there was only a dog inside.” “That’s how it was in

Children under APARTHEID Legal racism There is and always has been racism throughout the world. But in South Africa during the 20th century, racism became a way of life. Racism started early in South Africa, but in 1948 it was made legal and named apartheid. Apartheid Apartheid means ‘separateness’ or ‘apartness’ in Afrikaans. Blacks and whites were kept separate from

each other. Apartheid was racism by law and the government, the laws and the courts supported racism. Forbidden families It was illegal for black and white couples to marry. If a black and white couple had a baby, the baby was called a ‘coloured’ and had to live with his or her black parent. If the police found the parents living together, they were charged and sometimes jailed.

Illegal homes South Africa was divided into black and white areas. Millions of black children and their families had to leave their homes in ‘white’ areas and go and live in the ‘black’ areas. The children were left with family members while their parents went to find work far away, in the homes, farms and factories of white people. Many children only saw their parents at Christmas.

Gogo Somlayi, cousin Babalwa, mum Nomonde and Pelizwa.

those days. We carried the white people’s babies on our backs and raised them, while our babies had to stay behind in the ‘homeland’.” My mother’s story My mother grew up in the Transkei with my Gogo’s mother, my great grandmother, who died while Gogo was working for the white people. Then my mother stayed with neighbours in the Transkei. She only saw her mother at Christmas, when Gogo used to bring her the white children’s old clothes. My mother told me about when she was a little girl in the Transkei:


Nelson Mandela’s greatest gift to the children of South Africa is his long struggle for their freedom and equal rights. This struggle cost him 27 years in prison. Pelizwa’s story tells us how it was during apartheid in South Africa. Black children were treated badly, went to poor schools and had to live separated from their parents.

passes if they left the ‘homeland’. This pass gave them permission to move around in white people’s areas. My Gogo did not have this pass, but she took a bus to Cape Town and found work with a white lady. “Every morning I left the township where I lived at six o’clock, because after eight the inspectors checked everybody’s passes on the bus. If you didn’t have a pass, they would beat you and put you in prison. Then you’d have to go back to the Transkei to starve,” recalls Gogo.

Poor schools for black children The schools in the ‘black’ areas were very poor. Children had to share desks and there were often more than 60 children in a class, crowded into one room or sitting under a tree. Black children were not 59

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There were often 60 children in each class in the poor schools for black children.

“I was never close to my mother in the way that you and I are close. When my own Gogo died I was just like an orphan. I knew that my mother was looking after the white children far away. Then, when I was eleven, she came to get me and since then I’ve lived with her in the township.” “One day, I went to work with my mum to help her polish the lady’s silverware. When we got to the train station in the white area, I saw signs everywhere that said: ‘Whites Only’. They were on buses, doors, shops, benches and all kinds of places. I thought it was so

strange that white people did not want us blacks to sit on their benches. My mother said that we should never disobey these signs because the police or the white people would beat us. My mother also forbade me to drink from any of the cups in the lady’s kitchen. She said that she would be fi red if I did. Instead I drank water from a jam jar that my mother cleaned for me.” Angry teenager It was during this time that my mother fi rst heard about Nelson Mandela. She saw a photograph of black men running away from the hostels for men who worked in the gold mines. Gogo

allowed in white children’s schools. The black schools were poorly equipped and had a different curriculum that prepared them for practical work as labourers for the white people. In 1975, the government spent 42 rand on the education of each black student and 644 rand – 15 times as much – per white student. Child labour Tens of thousands of children became labourers on farms or in factories. They didn’t get much food, they

Child labourers spray the field without any protection against the pesticides.

explained that it was because the police had come to beat the men because they had protested against the apartheid pass laws. Gogo said that my grandfather worked in the mines and this was why we never saw him. These mine hostels were like prisons for slaves. Gogo said that Mandela was the chairman of the ANC, African National Congress, which organised these protests. My mother told me that she experienced all these terrible things that apartheid did to children while she was growing up, so when she became a teenager she was very angry. In 1976, she and thousands of other

children protested against inferior education for black children. Their schools were very poor and overcrowded. “We were so angry that we decided to fight with everything we had to stop this apartheid. Early on the morning of 16 June 1976, my friends and I huddled together behind our shack and made bombs from sand, petrol, matchsticks and a piece of cloth that we put into a big coke bottle.”

were badly paid and they never attended school.

because they had no homes. They formed street gangs and created ‘families’ without adults. They had to steal for food and were then jailed for theft.

No pass meant jail When the children’s parents worked in white areas, they had to carry a pass, which they called a ‘dompas’, meaning ‘stupid pass’. If blacks were found without this pass, they would be jailed or sent back to their ‘black’ area, and they would lose their jobs.

My cousin’s story My cousin Babalwa is much older than me. Her mother was a member of the ANC and often left Babalwa and her brothers and sisters home alone to go to secret

Children jailed Thousands of children ended up on the streets


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meetings, because the ANC was banned. Babalwa says: “When she went to a meeting she told us not to open the door to anyone. We were afraid, because we knew how many people just disappeared because the police took them. What if they came and asked us where my mother was? If we didn’t tell them, would they put us in jail? We knew so many children who had been beaten and thrown in jail when they didn’t do what the police wanted them to do.”

My story I did not riot or hide away or lose my mother in apartheid. By the time I was born, Mandela had been released and the ANC was no longer banned. I can grow up enjoying the freedom that my parents and Mandela fought for. Nelson Mandela is also my hero because he cares about everyone who is HIVpositive. He speaks up for children and families who have been affected by the virus and because he is so famous, everyone listens when he talks. 

Nelson Mandela with children who now enjoy equal rights. Here the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, NMCF, is being inaugurated.

I saw hard for sohow apar theid had Nelson M many children, so made life andela C hi I ldren’s Fuset up nd. .. We must n o t liv e like fat ca ts w h ile children ar I donate e hungry. a my pre sid third of salary to ential m Children’ y s Fund.

Madiba, yo the childre u think of all Mandela n without homes . is the be stChildren’s Fund idea anyo had. ne’s

*Many in South Africa call Mandela Madiba.

You gave of your lif 27 years e, Madib so that I co a* uld have my life .

Madiba, to go to any day I can thank s to sc hool you.

Read the whole Mandela comic strip at www.worldschildrens prize.org

Violence against children The school children’s protest continued for 15 years until the end of apartheid. Police and soldiers used violence against the children. Many Children who were arrested for protesting children were against apartheid. jailed, tortured and killed. Parents jailed Black parents in South Africa were angry at the injustice. It was impossible for them to support their children properly. There were few hospitals in the black areas for children who fell ill. Schools were bad, housing was poor and there were no play areas for the children. Parents gathered to protest against the apartheid laws. Thousands of children lost their parents when they were killed or jailed for their struggle against apartheid.

Apartheid everywhere A law from 1953 made it illegal for black children and their parents to use buses, parks, benches, public toilets, shop entrances, hotels, restaurants and many other services that were only for white people. The signs said ‘Whites Only’. Parents in exile The black people’s political organisations, including Mandela’s ANC, were banned. Hundreds of black parents fled the country and thousands were jailed. Many adults had to live on the run

in order to escape the police. As a result, thousands of children were left in the care of grandmothers, while their parents fought against apartheid. School protests On 16 June 1976, black students protested against poor apartheid education. Police responded with teargas and bullets. Thirteen-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot dead. Today, 16 June is a public holiday in South Africa, in memory of all young people who lost their lives in the struggle against apartheid.

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Leoa at school.

Leoa and her best friend Juliana on their way to school.

Leoa goes to

One evening a man came to Leoa’s house. She had never seen him before, but she knew exactly what he wanted anyway. Two years before, a stranger had called at a friend’s house and asked whether he could marry her. Her friend’s parents said yes, and so she was married against her will. “It was awful. She was only twelve. Now she has a baby and her husband won’t let her go to school,” says Leoa.


eoa’s worst nightmare is being married off to someone. She’d much rather complete her schooling so that she can get a job. But Leoa’s parents are poor and she was afraid that they would accept the man’s marriage proposal.

Leoa pleaded with her parents, telling them that all she wanted to do was go to secondary school so she could get a job. Leoa’s mother never went to school and can neither read nor write. Her father only went to school for a few years,

but they understood. They explained to the man that Leoa was far too young to get married. Going to Graça Machel Leoa lives in the village of Metuge in northern Mozambique. Since so

many parents are poor in that region, very few girls over 12 used to be allowed to go to school. When Graça Machel heard about this she decided to build four new schools. That way no one could say that the classrooms were too crowded and that there was only space for boys. But building new schools wasn’t enough. Some of the parents were not convinced that girls really had to get an education. So Graça started a theatre group to perform

Teacher broke Fernando’s arm Graça Machel and her organisation, FDC, work to put an end to violence and abuse against children. Fernando is one of the children who has suffered as a result of a violent adult: “Once my teacher got so angry that he started beating my hands with a cane. I had been talking to a classmate and the teacher flew into a rage. He hit me again and again. In the end he missed my hands and hit my forearm. A doctor examined my arm and saw that it was broken.” 62

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Leoa always has plenty to do at home.

s to Graça’s school plays about how important it is for girls to go to school. For Leoa’s best friend Juliana Adolfo it made all the difference in the world. She’d nagged her parents to let her start school, but they just said they couldn’t afford it. But after they saw the play they changed their minds, and Juliana’s dream came true. Juliana and Leoa now go to school together every day. But they don’t call it going to school. They call it ‘going to Graça Machel’, because even

though the schools in Metuge have names of their own, that’s what people call them. “Graça Machel is my heroine. She cares about us girls and the best thing is that she managed to explain to people why it’s so important for girls to be allowed to go to school,” says Leoa. 

The huge Baobab tree in Leoa’s village can live for up to a thousand years, and is believed to be magic.

Mandela and the street children One morning before Nelson became president, he was out walking in Cape Town. Suddenly he saw some street children waking up on the pavement. Nelson went up and talked to them. He had just received the Nobel Peace Prize and had given a large part of the prize money to the street children of South Africa. The boys asked him why he loved them so much. Nelson thought this was rather a strange question. He replied that everyone loves children. But the boys didn’t agree. After all, they had ended up on the street because no one loved them. Nelson thought this was tragic and he couldn’t stop thinking about the boys. He wanted to do more to help them. When he became president in 1994 he started his own children’s foundation to help children who are abandoned and alone.

Thanks for the house and the schools! When the flooding reached Chaukwe, Carlitos, 13, was home alone. “I was so worried about my brothers and my mother.” Carlitos’ family survived, but the floods took their house. They couldn’t afford to build a new house and Carlitos had to live in a small tent made out of sticks and plastic bags. That was his home until Graça Machel had 206 Houses Graça had built for those whose homes were destroyed by the floods.

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houses built for the poorest families. The flooding had destroyed everything. His school, which was old and rundown, had collapsed and the headmaster told the children to stay at home. But Graça Machel’s organisation built four new schools in Chaukwe, and gave all the children new schoolbooks and their own library. 63

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NOMINEE • Pages 64–68

Craig Kielburger


WHY IS CRAIG A NOMINEE? Craig Kielburger has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for his struggle to free children from poverty, abuse and other violations of the rights of the child. But he also wants to empower children to influence decision-makers and to contribute to a better world for children. Craig founded Free The Children (FTC) in 1995, when he was 12. Since then, FTC has built more than 500 schools for 50,000 pupils in 21 countries, and sent 200,000 packages of materials for healthcare and schools, as well as medical equipment worth 9 million US dollars. FTC has given gifts of cows, goats, sewing machines or land to 20,000 women, so that they can earn money and their children don’t have to work. FTC has also provided 123,000 people with clean water. The children themselves have paid for most of this. Over 1 million children and young people in 45 countries have learned, through FTC, to help other children, and that they have the right and the power to demand respect for the rights of the child.

On the evening of 16 April 1995, Iqbal Masih is killed (page 16). The news of the death of this young former debt slave spreads all over the world … …In Toronto, Canada, 12-year-old Craig Kielburger reaches for the newspaper on the breakfast table. He has no idea that today’s paper contains something that will change his life forever ...

A “

t fi rst I was just going to fl ick to the cartoon strips, but I happened to see a headline on the front page about a 12-year-old child worker who had been killed,” says Craig. The spoon in his cereal was left untouched while Craig read the whole article. “At fi rst, everything that happened to Iqbal seemed unreal to me. I had never heard of child labour or debt slavery, and I got real-

ly upset. I asked my parents if it was really true. ‘Read up on it’, they answered. I went to the library and contacted different organizations and soon I had found out more.” Free The Children “After a week, I asked my teacher if I could tell the class something. ‘Go ahead,’ he answered. Then I told them about child labour and about Iqbal. After school I called my

classmates. Twenty of us met at my house. We put together an exhibition, and decided to start Free The Children. We held a garage sale and sold juice and other things to raise money for the fight against child labour. One of the people I had contacted said that if I wanted to know more about the lives of these children, I had to visit them.” Craig couldn’t stop thinking about a trip. But his mother said ‘No way, it’s out of the question.’ But when a 25-year-old promised to look after Craig on a 7-week trip to India, Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand, and when Craig’s parents saw that the journey was well planned, they gave in. “Since then, I divide my life into two parts – ‘before Asia’ and ‘after Asia’,” says Craig. Children set free During his trip, Craig met a boy who had been seriously injured by an explosion in a

Demonstration in India Craig with Indian child labourers, in a demonstration against hazardous child labour.


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fi rework factory, where he carried out dangerous work without protection. He also met a little girl who worked breaking up old syringes without any protection. She climbed over them with bare feet. “She had no idea about AIDS or that syringes could spread disease.” In India, Craig also got to help set debt slave children free – children who had been ‘owned’ by a very cruel man. “I’ll never forget them. 12-year-old Nageshwer told me that he got the burns on his leg as punishment for trying to help his brother escape. And Mohan, 9, told me that he and the other 20 children at the rug factory saw two children being killed with bamboo canes and knives, after having been caught trying to run away from the factory.” PM gives in While Craig was on his travels, the Prime Minister of Canada was also on a trip to Asia with some Canadian businessmen. The purpose of their trip was to make some business deals. “I got a fax in India, say-

Craig and the Prime Minister When the newspapers in Canada wrote about Craig’s fight against child labour, the then Prime Minister agreed to meet with him.

In Brazil, some of the children Craig met lived on the street or worked on sisal plantations.

ing that the Prime Minister was on his way there. I wondered if he was planning to take up the issue of child labour, and I sent him a fax asking him if he would like to meet with me.” The answer was ‘No!’ The Prime Minister had not planned to talk about child labour in the countries he was visiting, even though those very countries were among those with the most child labour. And he certainly did not have time for a little boy. The Prime Minister came to regret that decision. Craig called a press conference. He had former debt slaves Nageshwer and Mohan by his side. Both of their sto-

ries, and Craig himself, became big news at home in Canada. “It is the Prime Minister’s moral responsibility to take up the issue of child labour when he meets India’s Prime Minister,” said Craig. The Prime Minister’s advisors realised that they couldn’t keep ignoring this boy, and all of a sudden, the Prime Minister had time for Craig. It all ended with the Canadian Prime Minister taking up the issue of child labour with every Prime Minister he met during his trip. So when the decision was made that Canada was to start taking the rights of the child into consideration in its trading relations with other countries, it was a victory for Craig and Free The Children. Adults don’t understand Many adults didn’t believe that it was Craig’s own ideas and will that made him fight for the rights of the child. “Adults often asked me, ‘Who is behind all this? Who is pushing you?’ But why are adults so surprised

when children care about these terrible things that happen in society? They underestimate children’s abilities,” says Craig. “Children simply can’t understand that the world’s adults can manage to send a man to the moon and to create nuclear weapons, but can’t manage to give all the children in the world enough to eat.” Lots of grown-ups were interested in Craig and tried to get in touch with him. One day, a phone call came from a newspaper in Germany and his mum answered. “Isn’t it true that he is really 19 years old, and not 12?” was the question. “Of course he’s 12. I should know, I’m his mum!” A Canadian newspaper claimed that Craig and his family had kept a large sum of money, even though Craig had given the money to an Indian organization that fights child labour, and 2000 people had seen him do it! Children have power! Craig and Free The Children want children to 65

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understand that they can make their voices heard, and that grown-ups must listen. “Children have power, if they realise it, and really can change things,” Craig is convinced. And they are much stronger together than alone. “The most important thing, once you have found an issue you care about, is fi rst to fi nd out lots about it. Then you can tell more people about it, and adults can’t just ignore you.” “Helping others is extraordinarily empowering for children. My older brother Marc and I wrote the book Me to We. Become happy

through helping others. It’s not a question of charity, where we just send money. We’re not like that. We want to change how people think, and we want them to take responsibility for how they live their lives. And instead of thinking about Me, to think about We,” explains Craig. If Free The Children started out with the intention of freeing children from child labour and poverty, the idea has grown for Craig, to include freeing children in Canada and other rich countries from always needing to think about themselves. “We do that through giving them a chance to make a difference. We help them to understand how they can think about others in their daily lives, by choosing goods which are produced under fair conditions, and how they, when they get to vote, can help to increase Canada’s foreign aid. FTC in the world Of course, FTC’s purpose is also to help vulnerable chil-

Free from slavery Craig together with a carpet weaver child in India, who he helped to set free from slavery.

dren all over the world, and change their lives. “Prevention is the key to change,” says Craig. “We have chosen to put our efforts into schools and health clinics.” The money is raised by children, but FTC has also received help from other sources including Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network, which pays for 50 FTC schools in different parts of the world. Funds are raised in every way possible, for

example with ‘ugly tie competitions’ and ‘guess the age of your teacher contests’. There are ‘brick by brick’ campaigns to raise 6000 dollars to be able to build a school in one of 21 countries in Asia, Africa and South America. For every 100 dollars that a school raises, they put up a painted brick in a ‘brick’ wall, until the wall is complete. Sometimes they can challenge companies and others to contribute the same amount that they raise themselves. 

Mud fight for school Craig and some other young Canadians went to Nicaragua to build a school together with the local people. It was a messy job, even without the mud fight...

CRAIG’S ADVICE Free The Children wants children all over the world to realise that: • They have a right to make their voice heard! • They have rights! • They can achieve positive change! • They can influence the lives of other children! • Their views are important!


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Roof and walls THANK YOU COW!

The house used to leak during the rainy season, but now the family have put on a new roof, fixed cracks in the walls and repainted.

Jasmine in her hair In southern India the girls almost always wear flowers in their hair, and Nandini’s village is especially famous for its beautiful jasmine flowers.  TEXT: CARMILL A FLOYD PHOTOS : KIM NAYLOR

Nandini became a debt slave Twelve-year-old Nandini lives in Thiruvanrangapatty in India. When her mother and grandmother became ill her father borrowed money to buy medicine. Nandini is worried about what will happen if her family can’t pay back the loan.


andini’s father, who is a farm worker, only earns 250 rupees (5 US dollars) a month. Now he has borrowed 5300 rupees from a rich man in the village. How will they ever be able to pay it back? One day the rich man comes to their house. He is very angry and shouts that he wants his money. “Or else you’ll have to send your daughter to work off the debt in my workshop.”


That night Nandini’s parents explain that she has to leave school and start working the very next day. First she gets angry, then she starts to cry. Her mother and father cry too and ask her to forgive them. Beaten with a stick In a small dark room 20 workers sit hunched over their gem polishing machines. Nandini is polishing tiny stones. Sometimes she makes a mistake,

and her hand slips and gets hurt. Spoiled stones have to be thrown away and that makes the owner angry. He beats Nandini every day, with his fists or with a wooden stick. Nandini polishes 50 stones a day, seven days a week, from eight in the morning until eight at night. Sometimes Nandini dreams of running away, but what would become of her family then?

The cow changed our lives!

In one year, a cow from Free The Children has changed Nandini’s life. Today the family can thank their kind cow for all this and more:

Goats With money from selling milk and calves, the family have bought goats that produce milk and dung that can be used as fuel or fertiliser.

Slave-cut stones Tens of thousands of children work as Nandini did, in the gem industry in India. Several thousand of them are debt slaves. They polish synthetic gems, imitations of precious stones like diamonds and rubies. The stones are used in jewellery that is sold in India, the USA and Europe.

Clothes “In the old days I only had worn out, torn clothes,” Nandini says. “Now I’ve got more to choose from, and nice clothes for special occasions.”


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Nandini earns 25 rupees a day. The owner keeps the money as payment of the loan. But after a year, the debt hasn’t gone down, it has increased. The debt grows because the interest is so high. Nandini realises she is going to be a debt slave for the rest of her life. Saved by a cow One day Free The Children comes to visit and hears about the family’s problems. They ask Nandini’s mother what kind of help she needs. “I’d really like to have a cow,” she answers. In just two months Nandini’s mother manages to sell so much of the cow’s milk that she can pay off the family’s debt to the workshop owner. Nandini is free and can start school again.

“That was the happiest day of my life,” Nandini says. Her eyes still hurt in strong sunlight. They may never fully recover. With help from Free The Children, she and other children in the village have started a club to fight child labour. “We children don’t get any help. That’s why we have to support each other,” says Nandini, who wants to be a good, fair police officer when she grows up. “I’ll make sure that everyone obeys the law, that there are no child slaves or child workers, and that all children get an education.”

Knowledge is power! Free The Children believes that education is the best way to fight poverty and child labour. In Nandini’s village they opened a school for young children. The older children go by bus to a state school in the nearest town, but in the evenings they get extra tuition and help with their homework in the village school.

Gem cutting machine


Bought with the money from selling the calves. Now Nandini’s mum has her own business and works from home, cutting and polishing stones and selling them. She earns money directly, instead of working in a workshop for low pay.

Calves So far the cow has had two calves, both of which have been sold.

Electricity One of the first things the family did with the cow money was to get electricity. Southern India can get hot – over 50 degrees Celsius – so it’s good to have a ceiling fan! The TV and the gem cutting machine also run on electricity.


Better food

“Now I can concentrate more on school and get good grades,” says Nandini. “I also have two school uniforms, so I don’t have to spend all my time washing!”

Now Nandini’s family eats tasty and healthy food with lots of vegetables, three times a day!

Milk The cow produces seven litres of milk a day. Half is sold to a man who buys up milk to sell it, and the family uses the rest.


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NOMINEE • Pages 69–73

n AOCM n “Can anybody see him? Naphtal is the only one left, the rest of the family is dead. If you find him, kill him too!” Naphtal holds his breath. He is lying in the river just a few metres from the men... This happened in Rwanda in 1994, when at least 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. 300,000 of them were children, and 100,000 children were orphans after the genocide. Naphtal Ahishakiye lost his entire family: mother, father and four brothers. As Naphtal lay hidden in the river, he could never have guessed that one day he would found AOCM, L’Association des Orphelins Chefs de Ménages (the Association of Orphan Heads of Households).


nly Naphtal’s nose is above the water surface. He hangs on tight to the roots growing on the riverbed. Only several hours later, when it is dark, does he dare rise out of the water. He knows that the men will be back to look for him at first light. A few days earlier, Naphtal’s whole family had been sitting listening to the radio. Like so many times recently, the voice on the radio said that all Tutsi peo-

ple were Rwanda’s enemies. It also said that Tutsis were as dirty as cockroaches and that the Hutus must get rid of these pests. Naphtal’s father said that the government supported the radio station. Naphtal’s family were worried because they were Tutsis. On this morning the radio said that the president had died in a plane crash. The plane had crashed as he was on his way home from a meeting in Tanzania with the RPF

(Rwandan Patriotic Front), which had been at war with Rwanda’s government since 1990. The RPF wanted to remove the government and said they wanted to create a country for both Hutus and Tutsis. Now that the president was dead, those Hutus who didn’t want peace with

Why is AOCM a nominee? AOCM has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 because the organisation fights for the children and young people whose parents were killed in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. AOCM consists of young people who lost their parents in the genocide, and together they now try to help each other create a better life. They are like a family, where people care about one another. Although most people in AOCM live in extreme poverty, they help each other with food, clothes, roofs over their heads, new families, and access to healthcare and education. And most important of all: they give each other friend­ ship and love. Over 6,000 orphaned children and young people have the chance of a better life through AOCM. Young people who might other­ wise end up living on the street with drugs, violence, criminality and prostitution. AOCM speaks on the orphans’ behalf in Rwanda, by constantly reminding the government and orga­ nisations that the orphans exist.


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AOCM supports orphaned children so that they can go to school. The older children help the younger ones with their homework.


the RPF or to share power with Tutsis in Rwanda, could do what they wanted. “The Hutus will start to kill us. We must hide in the forest, and everyone must fi nd their own hiding place,” said Naphtal’s father. Killed the family A few days after the family went into hiding, a group of armed men came to their home. They smashed up the house, chopped down the banana trees, pulled the manioc and potatoes from the earth, and destroyed the fields. They stole the family’s goats and cows. Naphtal watched everything from his hiding place, and he saw

that many of those who were destroying his home were their neighbours. The next day they found Naphtal’s father and killed him. Two days later they found Naphtal’s older brother, and killed him too. They then took Naphtal’s other three brothers and lastly his mother... When Naphtal lay in the river he was the only one left. He didn’t dare leave the water for three days and nights. “I managed to survive in the forest for several months. I drank rainwater and sneaked into people’s gardens when it got dark and ate bananas. At night I slept on the ground. I was incredibly sad and confused,” says Naphtal. When Naphtal had been hiding in the forest for three months, the RPF managed to defeat the Rwandan army and force the government to flee. The genocide was over

Alone and afraid “When I was hiding in the forest I was scared all the time. If the trees creaked, or the leaves rustled in the wind I thought that the killers had come to get me. It was terrible to sleep out there in the dark, completely alone,” remembers Naphtal.

Love is the most important thing “The most important thing of all has been to make sure that all those who lost their parents in the genocide love and care for each other,” says Naphtal.


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at last. Naphtal and tens of thousands of others who had survived could try to begin a new life. “It wasn’t easy. But when the schools re-opened, I still decided to try to study again. I wanted to honour my mother and father, and I knew that they would have wanted me to try to do something good with my life,” says Naphtal. Love is most important At school, Naphtal met other children and young people who had lost their parents in the genocide. “When we began to talk to each other, we realised that none of us could manage alone. Those of us who had some money helped those who had nothing at all. In the evenings we studied together. We became like a family, and it felt wonderful to not be alone anymore. A few years later Naphtal and a couple of his school friends decided to try and help orphaned children throughout Rwanda in the same way they had helped each other at school. “In 2000 we started AOCM so that we orphans could help each other create a better life.” AOCM focused on: • Everyone should have somewhere to live; most people’s homes had been destroyed. • Everyone should be able to go to school and get the healthcare they need. • Everyone should have food and clothes. “But we felt that the most important thing was to create love between those of us who had lost our parents. For if we felt love, we would care about and look after each other,” says Naphtal. Now AOCM has 1,800 families who are members – a total of 6,100 orphaned children and young people.

AOCM has built around 150 houses. They give financial support to hundreds of orphaned children so they can go to school, and help them start pig farms, hairdressing salons, cafés and other enterprises so that the members can support themselves when they finish school. “Everybody helps when they can. If you have food you share it with those who don’t have any. If you have money you buy pens and exercise books for those who have none. If someone falls ill we help that person to the hospital. We want to be like any other family,” explains Naphtal. More orphans “I attend meetings with the government, authorities, organisations and rich people and ask for money for the orphaned children and young people in Rwanda. But there is never enough. Now, apart from the genocide, we have another big problem – AIDS. People die of AIDS every day, and their children are left all alone.

What is genocide? Genocide means trying to wipe out a particular group of people in one country or area. The Nazis’ extermination of Jews during the Second World War (1939–1945) and the killing of Tutsis in 1994 in Rwanda were both genocides. The word ‘genocide’ was created to describe the Holocaust – the Nazis’ extermination of 6 million Jews and between 200,000 and 600,000 Roma during the Second World War. Homosexuals and others who were considered inferior were also killed. Genocide has also taken place in Cambodia, where two million people were killed between 1975 and 1979, and in the former Yugoslavia where over 250,000 people were killed between 1992 and 1995.

We do as much as we can to help, but the need is enormous. There are hundreds of thousands of orphaned children in Rwanda. If they don’t get any help, they will end up on the streets and never get the chance to go to

school. We will continue to fight for orphaned children’s rights as long as necessary,” says Naphtal. 

“Everybody needs somebody. That’s why we started AOCM, and we will continue to fight for orphaned children,” says Naphtal.

Children allowed to be children AOCM wants the younger children in the organisation to be able to go on trips. On excursions they can eat good food, drink soft drinks, play and have a good time. “We try to go on trips as often as possible, even if we can’t really afford it. These children had to grow up far too fast because their parents were killed. On the trips they are allowed to be children,” says Naphtal. 71

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Marie Grâce

loves her AOCM house

One morning in April 1994, all the Tutsi families in the village where Marie Grâce lived were attacked. Her mother and father were killed and their home was totally destroyed. “If we hadn’t been given a new house by AOCM, it would have been really difficult for me and my brothers and sisters,” says Marie Grâce.


arie Grâce was just one year old when the village was attacked, so she doesn’t remember anything from that time. “It’s tragic. They destroyed our home to show they didn’t want to live with us. Thousands of people were made homeless. I don’t understand how people can do that. I think that Hutus and Tutsis should live as neighbours and friends. There’s no difference between us, and we have to stop hating each other,” says Marie Grâce. Worried older brother

and our old house destroyed, we didn’t know where to go. We ended up in a refugee camp for children who had survived.” After a while many of the killers, and even other Hutus, fled to neighbouring DR Congo because they were scared of revenge attacks. So children who had survived the genocide moved into the abandoned houses.

Marie Grâce and her brothers and sisters did too. They lived for free there and they could eat the bananas and vegetables from the abandoned plantations. “But when the refugees began to return we were forced to move. We had to rent a house in the city instead, and my big brother did everything he could so we would survive. But we

Play banana ball! Marie Grâce makes a ball from banana leaves and throws it at her opponents in ‘tayari’, or banana ball.


to my new house!

It was Diogène, Marie Grâce’s older brother, who saved her the morning they were forced to flee. “He carried me and ran as fast as he could. My other brothers and sisters were there too. Since our mother and father had been killed 72

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“I get up at six o’clock every morning and do the cleaning, both in the house and out in the yard.”

were often hungry and Diogène worried about how we would manage.” Saved by AOCM Marie Grâce’s older brother Diogène, and many others who had lost their parents in the genocide, realised that they had to begin to help each other if they were to survive. They began to cooperate with AOCM in Kigali and in June 2003 something happened which totally changed the lives of Marie Grâce and her brothers and sisters. “That was when we moved into our house in the AOCM village. We got the house for nothing and we didn’t have to pay any rent! Before, nearly all of our money used to go on rent, but now we can buy food, clothes and other things we need instead. We could never have afforded to buy our

own house. Life is still not easy for us, but it has become a lot better,” says Marie Grâce. “Those of us who live here in the AOCM village are Tutsis, because we are the ones whose houses were destroyed in 1994. But the children who live in the villages around us are usually Hutus. We play together and it’s not a problem. It is the same at school. I have both Hutus and Tutsis as friends. And when I think about it, I actually don’t have any idea who is what. I see no difference and I don’t care either! I think everyone is equal. Many adults don’t think so, but they ought to. If the adults don’t think like us children, I'm worried that war will break out again in Rwanda unless adults start thinking like us children," says Marie Grâce. 

Girls first ... I

n Marie Grâce’s village, AOCM has built 34 houses for 130 children and young people who lost their parents in the genocide.

“We are always trying to raise more money to build more houses. We believe that the girls need houses first, because they are the most vulnerable. When we

“Out in the yard we wash clothes, prepare food and socialise.”

“We make butter in the calabash that hangs on the wall.” “I cook when I get home from school. I often prepare beans and plantains, but my favourite food is rice. I cook over an open fire. We eat dinner in the living room.”

I think this bouquet of silk flowers is the nicest thing in our house.

give out food and clothes it is always the girls who are first to receive them,” says Naphtal, leader of AOCM.


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NOMINEE • Pages 74–78

Betty Makoni


WHY IS BETTY A NOMINEE? Betty Makoni has been nominated as WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for her long struggle for girls in Zimbabwe to be freed from abuse and to have the same opportunities in life as boys. Through the Girl Child Network (GCN) Betty has built three safe villages for particularly vulnerable girls and started 500 girls’ clubs with 30,000 members, mostly in rural areas and in poor townships. Betty saves girls from child labour, forced marriage, abuse, trafficking and assault. She gives the girls food, clothes, medical care, a home, the chance to go to school, and safety. Above all, she gives the girls courage to demand respect for their rights. Tens of thousands of girls have found a better life because of Betty’s work. She and GCN speak out on behalf of girls in Zimbabwe by constantly encouraging the government to take care of the country’s girls. But not everyone approves of Betty’s struggle. She lives dangerously and is constantly being threatened for her work.

Bang! Betty Makoni awoke with a start. It was the middle of the night in the poor neighbourhood of Chitungwiza outside Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare. She heard it again: Bang! And again: Bang! The children began to cry. Just a few metres from Betty’s bed, masked men were breaking through the front door with an axe. Fighting for girls’ rights can be dangerous!


ne of the men pointed at Betty and shouted, “We’re going to kill you! You’re the woman that causes nothing but trouble for us!” Betty and her children were terrified. When one of the men reached out for her one-year-old son, Betty panicked. “I thought they were going to kill him or kidnap him. But we were lucky. When they saw that my husband was home they ran away.” That was just one of the many times Betty’s life has been in danger because of her struggle for girls’ rights.

But she doesn’t give up. “I know myself how it feels to have your rights violated. That’s why I keep going!” Terrible man Betty’s own story starts in the poor neighbourhood of Chitungwiza. “My childhood was terrible. My father beat my mother almost every night. Mum couldn’t manage, so I had to start helping out at home at a young age. When I was only five years old I used to clean and cook and carry my younger siblings on my back at the same time. Both Mum and Dad

used to beat us. I never felt safe.” Just like many other girls in her neighbourhood, Betty had to start working. From the age of five she walked around selling vegetables and candles every evening. “While us girls were working we could see the boys our age playing.” When Betty was six years old, something awful happened. After several hours selling their goods, she and some friends arrived at their last customer, who owned a little shop. “Once we were all inside


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the shop the man suddenly locked the door. He brought out a knife and said that he would kill anyone who screamed or tried to resist. Then he turned off the light. Everything went pitch black. We were scared to death but we didn’t dare call for help. He raped us, one after another. In the end we managed to get away. Everyone ran home, and we never talked to each other about what had happened.” “When I got home Dad wasn’t in and Mum was asleep. I could see that they had been fighting again. I cried silently so that I didn’t wake anyone. I felt dirty and totally abandoned.” Despite what had happened, Betty continued to work every evening. When she started school she used some of the money she had earned to pay her school fees. It wasn’t always enough, and Betty was often sent home from school because she couldn’t pay. She often thought about how wrong it was that a grown man had hurt her so much. She also thought about how wrong it was that her mum was always getting beaten. Since Betty and 500 girls walked 200 km, from village to village, many new girls’ clubs have been started.

The girls’ club When Betty was 24 she started work as a teacher. She saw how hard things were for girls. As soon as a family had difficulty paying their children’s school fees, it was always the girls who had to quit school while their brothers carried on. Soon the girls in Betty’s class started to talk to her about their problems. They told her about the male teachers who took advantage of them and about how hard it was for them to dare to speak up when there were boys around. “Then I suggested that we girls should meet up and talk about things that are important to us. I suggested that we could have a club where girls take care of each other and help each other if something bad happens to one of them. A club where they would grow strong and dare to demand the same rights in life as boys. They thought it was a great idea. There were ten of us who started meeting up a couple of times a week.” “Slowly but surely, girls who had been subjected to rape and abuse started to come forward and tell us about it. We supported the girls and helped them to pluck up the courage to report the crimes to the police.”

The Girl Child Network doesn’t let anyone down! “At the beginning the idea was that all the girls’ club members would pay 10 US cents every year. But that was too much for many of the poor girls in the rural areas, who need the girls’ club more than anyone else. So that we didn’t let them down, we decided to stop charging a fee. Every club tries to earn a bit of money to help those in need. Some grow and sell vegetables, others make baskets and sell them,” explains Betty.

It wasn’t long before girls’ clubs started up at other schools, first in Chitungwiza and then all over Zimbabwe. “In 1999 I decided to start the Girl Child Network (GCN) so that all the girls’ clubs could support each other.” “That same year I did a 200 km walk with 500 girls, out in the rural areas. We walked from village to village telling people about girls’ rights and about what we do at our girls’ clubs. At night we slept on floors in village schools. We were on the road for 17 days and after that there were loads of girls

Betty (left) the year she started working.


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Safe village goats In the safe villages, the girls learn to grow vegetables and to take care of goats and chickens.

who wanted to start their own clubs. Today there are 500 girls’ clubs with 30,000 members all over Zimbabwe!” The clubs report to the Girl Child Network if anyone has been raped, had to quit school, or been forced to get married or start working. If anyone needs help to pay for school fees, clothes, shoes or food, all the other girls in the group try to help them out. If they can’t manage it, they contact Betty. Safe villages Betty soon realised that many of the girls who were saved from abuse, child labour, forced marriage and rape needed a safe place to

live. Often the girls couldn’t return to their families. Since Betty made sure that many of those who committed crimes ended up in prison, she was afraid that they would come back to take revenge on the girls later. So in 2001, the first ‘safe village’ was created. Since then two more villages have been built in other parts of Zimbabwe. Since Betty started the first girls’ club in 1998, tens of thousands of girls have been given the chance of a better life. Betty never hesitates to point the finger at people who treat girls badly, even if they are powerful politicians. She has made plenty of enemies and has had lots of

Betty has been threatened many times and her life has been in danger because she fights for girls’ rights.

threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. Cars follow her around and the police carry out raids on her office. Betty has to have people around her to protect her at all times. Her children can’t even walk to school on their own, as she is afraid something could happen to them. “My dream is for Zimbabwe to be a country where boys and girls have the

same opportunities in life. Every day I get about ten phone calls from girls who have been raped. It’s still hard for girls to go to school. They get married off or forced to work instead. As long as what happened to me when I was little continues to happen to girls, I’ll keep fighting for them!” 

Betty and the girls in the girls’ clubs demonstrate for girls’ rights.


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saved my life!”

“I’ll never forget when I saw Tsitsi for the first time. She was lying on my sofa and looked so small and scared. She was eight years old, and had been beaten so badly that she had deep wounds on her back. I thought she was going to die,” says Betty.

Tsitsi had lived with her mother in a

little house in Chitungwiza but she knew her father, who sometimes gave them money. She liked her father, but she loved her mother. When Tsitsi was in first grade, her mother fell ill. “I cooked food and helped my mum as much as I could, but one day she just died. That same evening, Dad came and took me back to his house.” For the first little while, Tsitsi’s father was kind. “He didn’t really comfort me, but he gave me food and helped me so that I could keep going to school.” After a couple of months, when Tsitsi’s father became ill, everything changed. He began to have difficulty paying the rent. It became hard even just to buy food and he

blamed Tsitsi for all the bad things that happened. My own father “Dad got angry about nothing. He would beat me as a punishment. He used his belt or a stick, and hit me on the back, the chest… everywhere. Dad beat me almost every evening.” One evening things got even worse than usual. “I had just gone to bed when he told me to come and lie down on his bed. At first I didn’t understand what he meant. Then I realised that he wanted to do bad things to me. When I refused, he hit

me with an electrical cable. At the same time, he held up a knife and said that he would kill me if I screamed. I couldn’t defend myself, and in the end he did it. My own father. The next night he did it again. And the next night, and the next...” Finally Tsitsi told her teacher, who called Betty Makoni straight away. That very afternoon, Girl Child

Network came and collected Tsitsi from school. Finally safe “Betty saved my life and I love her! She took me to hospital and took care of me. But for the first while I was often sad and I had nightmares. At first I lived in a ‘safe house’ in Chitungwiza, but then I moved here to one of Betty’s safe villages. Those

Remembers her mum “My mum, who was a seamstress, taught me to sew. I think of her every time I sew. I miss her so much.”


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...the girls in the safe village sweep the yard…

of us who live in the village do everything together. We play, clean, wash the dishes, sleep, go to school... everything! All of us have had a hard time and we understand each other.” “I love playing with the others. It helps me forget everything that happened with my dad. It’s the same in

...and wash the dishes.

school. I concentrate on learning new things there instead of thinking about the past. When I miss my mum and feel sad, I go and talk to one of our three village mothers who take care of us. Most of all, they give us love. I feel happy and safe here.” 

Newspaper ball “It only took a few minutes to make this ball. I pressed newspaper into a bag. We use this ball when we play bottle ball,” says Tsitsi.

1 2

“Every afternoon after school we sit around the fire and tell stories and sing. I love sitting here with the other girls,” says Tsitsi. Join in the fun around the fire in Tsitsi’s village at www.worldschildrensprize.org

Play bottle ball! Bottle ball is played on a sand pitch. An empty plastic bottle is placed in the middle of the pitch. Two teams, with as many members as you like, play against each other. The first team is divided into two groups who stand fifteen metres apart with the bottle in the middle. They are the ‘outer team’ and they throw the ball back and forth to each other. Between them stand the ‘inner team’. Anyone who gets hit when the outer team throws the ball is out. When everyone in the inner team is out, the outer team has won and the teams swap places. The inner team can rescue members of their team who are out. When the outer team throw the ball, someone from the inner team has to catch it, without being hit anywhere else. The person who catches the ball throws it as far away as they can. While the outer team run to fetch the ball, the inner team fill the plastic bottle with sand and then quickly pour it out again. If the inner team manage to do that before the outer team have brought the ball back, then they have rescued everyone who is out, and they can continue the game!



Loves high-rises “My favourite place is our capital city, Harare. I like the high-rise buildings and there is electricity there. The streets are lit up and the people who live there can watch TV. We don’t have electricity yet in the village.”


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NOMINEE • Pages 79–83


Somaly Mam

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


he police start their search for Somaly’s daughter Champa, 14, straight away among the criminal gangs that run the brothels of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. That’s where many of Somaly’s enemies are. When Champa has been gone for four days, the police phone and say they have traced her to the northern part of the country, close to the Thai border. It’s an area known for its slave trade, where young girls are bought and sold. When Somaly arrives the

police have found Champa at a brothel. The kidnappers had raped her first and then sold her to a brothel. “I couldn’t stop crying when I held her again. She had been drugged and didn’t recognise me at all. I took her beautiful face in my hands and asked her to forgive me, again and again. My enemies had taken their revenge on me by hurting my beloved daughter. She had been forced to go through the same abuse that I was subjected to for so many years.”


No parents Somaly’s own story begins in a little village where she grew up. Nobody knew where her mother and father had gone. The people of the village took care of Somaly. There was always food and a bed for her at one of the families’ houses. One day when Somaly was nine, a man came to the village to buy wood. He was going to sell it in the lowlands. “He said he knew my relatives and I was delighted when he asked me if I wanted to go back with him. I hoped I’d find my dad in the town.” She couldn’t find her dad, and the man who she had started to call ‘grandfather’ wasn’t so kind any more. “He wasn’t married and didn’t have any children, so I became his slave. I had to get up at three in the morning every day to fetch water from the river. I sold the water to different restaurants.” Somaly walked around with the heavy water buckets for several hours. When she was finished, she did the dishes at one of the restaurants. She spent the rest of the day working for neighbours who needed help in their paddy fields. “After that, in the evenings, I went to a place in town that made noodles. I ground up rice grains to make flour using a heavy stone mill. I was never home before midnight.” If Somaly didn’t come home with enough money for grandfather’s alcohol, he went crazy.

Why is Somaly a nominee? Somaly Mam has been nominated for the WCPRC Decade Child Rights Hero 2009 for her long and dangerous struggle to save the girls who are sold as slaves to brothels in Cambodia. Somaly herself was sold to a brothel as a child, and she wants all girls who have been slaves to have the same opportunities in life as others. Through AFESIP, she has built three safe houses for the girls they rescue from slavery. There the girls get food, healthcare, a home and the chance to go to school, as well as training for jobs when they are older. Somaly gives the girls safety, warmth and love. Some 3,000 girls who have been slaves now have a better life thanks to Somaly. She and AFESIP speak on behalf of the girls in Cambodia by constantly encouraging the government and other organisations to take care of the country’s girls. Somaly receives regular death threats. In 2006, her 14 year-old daughter was kidnapped, raped and sold to a brothel. People wanted to punish Somaly for her fight for girls’ rights.


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“He would tie me up, beat me and kick me like a madman.” Sold for the first time One day, when Somaly was twelve, grandfather asked her to go and get some paraffin for the lamp from the local shop. “He was usually nice to me and gave me sweets. But this time he ripped my clothes off and raped me. Afterwards he said he’d kill me if I ever told anyone. He also said that grandfather owed him lots of money. Now I realise that grandfa-

ther had let the man rape me. That was the first time I was sold. That evening I was in pain all over and I felt confused and dirty.” When Somaly was fifteen, grandfather said they were going to go to Phnom Penh, the capital, to visit a relative. But he tricked her. The house that grandfather took her to was a brothel. He had sold her. Again. “When I realised what sort of place it was, I tried to resist as much as possible. I refused to take care of the ‘clients’. As a punishment, the owner of the brothel

beat me and raped me. Then he locked me into a little room.” Somaly dreamt about running away constantly, and once she managed it. They found her though, and as a punishment she was tied up, beaten, and taken advantage of by different men for over a week. “They managed to break me. I had lost the fight,” says Somaly. Set the first girl free Somaly just tried to survive. Then, however, something happened that was to change her life. “One day, a new girl arrived. She was only ten. She had dark skin and was very thin. It was as though I was looking at myself when I’d just arrived. I didn’t want this girl to be ruined as I had been. She could still have

a good life. Quickly, I gave her all the money I had. The owners and guards weren’t there and I managed to let her out. She was free.” “They were furious and they beat me for several hours. Then they locked me into a tiny, cramped cage to show the others what happens to disobedient girls.” The years went by. Somaly no longer had the confidence or the courage to run away. In the end, the owners trusted her so much that she was allowed to leave the brothel with her clients. She always brought the money back. A rich American client wanted to marry her, but she didn’t want to. She was scared that he would take her to the USA and sell her. Before the man left, he gave Somaly 3,000 dollars so that she could start a new life. Somaly could have afforded to buy a house and start a little shop.


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“But I knew that the other girls at the brothel were suffering just as much as I was. Ever since helping that fi rst little girl get away, I had dreamt of freeing the others too. So I gave the owner the money and he agreed to set all ten girls free! It felt fantastic to see the girls as free people!”

Worth dying for Eleven years have passed since then, and over 3,000 girls have been freed from slavery and given a better life, thanks to the hard work of Somaly and AFESIP. They now have three safe houses that are home to 150 girls who have been rescued. Somaly has made lots of enemies though, and she lives with constant death threats. She gets threatening phone calls in the middle of

This is how Somaly’s organisation works: • They visit brothels to help the girls and to find girls under 18 who have been sold as slaves. • They carry out raids on the brothels, along with the police, to rescue the underage girls. • They help the girls to report the people who have sold, owned and taken advantage of them to the police, and make sure the girls have a lawyer for trials. • They give the girls a home, food, healthcare, counselling and the chance to go to school, as well as practical training to become dressmakers or hairdressers. • They help the girls to move back in with their families if possible. • They help the girls to start a new life by giving them practical training. They give the girls the equipment they need. AFESIP visits every girl for at least three years to make sure that things are going well. • They have a helpline that the girls can call 24 hours a day.


The first raid A French aid worker called Pierre encouraged her to start a new life. He said that she could do it. After eight years, Somaly was fi nally free. She and Pierre got married. But every night she saw images of young girls being subjected to terrible abuses. Somaly’s dream was to save all girls from this slavery. “I talked to Pierre about my dreams, and we decided to start an organisation called AFESIP (Acting for Women in Distressing Situations) to help the girls of Cambodia.” Somaly began visiting Phnom Penh’s brothels. She taught the girls how to stay healthy and protect themselves from AIDS. She took any girls who were ill to the hospital. The owners wanted the girls to be healthy, so

they let Somaly come to visit often. What they didn’t know was that she also kept a lookout for girls who were under eighteen and had been sold as slaves. Soon AFESIP carried out their fi rst raid along with the police, to save one of the girls Somaly had discovered. It was a little girl called Srey, who was fourteen and had been drugged. Somaly and Pierre took care of Srey in their home. Over time, more and more girls came to live with them. They used up all their own money. A year later, in 1997, Somaly fi nally got help and was able to open a little centre where she could take care of the girls who had been rescued.

Somaly’s secret box “If any one of us needs help, or if we want to do something, like go on a picnic, we can write a letter and put it in the secret box. Only Somaly has the key to it. She reads all the letters. Somaly understands how we feel and what we need, because she’s been through the same experiences as we have. I wrote a letter asking if my little sister can come and live here. I’m scared that my mum is going to sell her. Somaly has promised that she can come here and I’m so pleased,” says Sry Pov. The key to the girls’ dreams…


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Together. The girls never go out alone. They take care of each other to make sure nothing happens.

The girls go to collect crabs.

the night, cars follow her around and people threaten to bomb AFESIP’s homes. Someone set fire to Somaly’s house, and she has to have bodyguards protecting her all the time. “It is said that the slave trade is more profitable than the drug trade. Brothel owners, the mafia, and some police officers, judges and important politicians earn a lot of money from the trade in young girls. That’s why it’s difficult and dangerous to try to stop it.” Some believe that at

least 20,000 girls under the age of eighteen are still in slavery in Cambodia. Somaly is not going to stop fighting for their rights. “I was on the point of giving up after my daughter Champa was kidnapped and sold to a brothel. But then she told me quite calmly that I had to keep going. Champa said that she had me and that she’d be okay despite everything she’d been through. But she didn’t know what would happen to all the other girls if I gave

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

Scared of he dark “I hate being alone in the dark. That’s when all the terrible memories come back. I love being outside, playing with the girls in the paddy fields. When we play football, go fishing and catch crabs together I feel alive again,” says Somaly. “The only thing that really makes me happy is seeing the girls play and laugh again. That makes me glad too,” says Somaly.


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Srey Pov

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


um tried to take care of me and my five brothers and sisters. I had to help out a lot. Cooking food, washing up, taking care of my siblings and that sort of thing. I worked on our neighbour’s paddy field. Sometimes we ate once a day and sometimes we didn’t eat at all,” Srey Pov recalls. One day when she was seven, a man and woman came to visit. The couple said they could help the family by getting Srey Pov a job as a maid with their relatives in the capital city, Phnom Penh.

As soon as they stepped inside the house in the city, the man and woman changed completely. “They threw me into a tiny room and locked the door. I was scared and started to cry, and shouted, ‘Why are you locking me in?’ Then they said ‘Stop shouting! Or we’ll kill you!’” Several days passed and Srey Pov was still locked up. They gave her water but no food. After a week, the man came in and said ‘Take care of a client’. “I told him I didn’t know what that meant. The man was furious and sent four

men into the room. They tore my clothes off and hit me all over my body with belts and electrical cables. Then they did terrible things to me. I didn’t know what it was then. Now I know that they raped me. Soon it felt like my emotions were being destroyed in some way. As though I was dead.” One night when she was eleven and had been a slave at various brothels for over four years, she made a decision. “I decided to run away, whatever the cost. Even if it meant that they killed me. I ran straight into a couple,

who asked me what had happened. They let me get on their motorbike. I was so scared that I was going to be sold again. But the couple worked for AFESIP and they had been out on their night patrol in the park.” “When we arrived at AFESIP everyone was so kind. Somaly hugged me and said that everything would be okay. It felt like she understood exactly what I had been through. A doctor examined me and then I saw a psychologist. It felt so good to be able to talk about all the awful things that had happened to me.” Somaly asked Srey Pov whether she would like to move to her home out in the country and start school. “I was overjoyed. The day I stepped into the classroom was the happiest day of my life. Us girls are like one big family and we take care of each other.” In the future, Srey Pov wants to fight for girls’ rights. “If we are to put a stop to all this, boys must change and start to see girls in a different light. They have to understand that we are equal and that we must be treated with respect!” 

“My first day at school was the best day of my life,” says Srey Pov.


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L E J U RY P O U R L E P R I X D E S E N FA N T S D U M O N D E 2 0 0 9 E L J U R A D O D E L P R E M I O D E L O S N I Ñ O S D E L M U N D O 2 0 0 9 O J Ú R I D O P R Ê M I O C R I A N Ç A S D O M U N D O 2 0 0 9

the jury for the world’s children’s prize 2009

09 baksida.indd 1

t h e j u ry for t h e wor l d’s ch i l dr e n’s pr i z e 2 0 0 9 AL Bwami OB N D L G IE Ngandu R F D. R . CON G O



AL L is a OB N D L G IE Bonongwe R F ZIMBABWE





Gabatshwane Gumede


Hannah Taylor CANADA






Mary Smart LEONE


Ofek Rafaeli ISRAEL

Sukumaya Magar NEPAL


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



Rakesh Kumar INDIA


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

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Profile for World's Children's Prize Foundation

The Globe no 50 English  

The WCPRC-magazine

The Globe no 50 English  

The WCPRC-magazine

Profile for wcprc