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Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel Among Nominees For World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child

Africa is well represented among this year’s nominees for the ”World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the child.” Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel have been nominated, along with a group of village women in Kenya known as “The Mothers of St. Rita.”

Magnus Bergmar is executive director of the World’s Children’s Prize. From Mariefred, Sweden, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

He said this award is “the one and only children’s award for fantastic work for the rights of the child around the world.” He said, “It’s a process in which children all over the world -- for the moment there are five million school children in 70 countries standing behind the prize. And millions of these children that learn about the final three nominees, the children they’re working for, and the rights of the child. And then they arrange their own global vote, the children themselves, their own democratic vote. For some of the children – for example, former bondage slaves in Pakistan – it’s the first time ever they and their families are voting, you know, and learn and train how to vote.”

As to the reasons the nominees were chosen, Mr. Bergmar said Nelson Mandela’s main present to South Africa’s children has been “his long struggle for their freedom and their equal rights.” Mr. Bergmar also said Mr. Mandela gave half of his presidential salary to projects for unfortunate children in South Africa – projects that are still going on as part of the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund.

Graca Machel, former Mozambican first lady and now wife of Mr. Mandela, was nominated because of a number of projects on behalf of children, especially her efforts to see that girls have the right to go to school.

The Mothers of St. Rita, in Kenya, is a group of 20 village women, who for the past seven years, have cared for AIDS orphans, despite the fact that they themselves are very poor.

The third nominee is Ana Maria Maranon De Bohorquez of Bolivia. She has been confined to a wheelchair since the age of two. Nevertheless, for nearly 30 years, she has cared for street children in Cochabamba.

The World’s Children’s for the Rights of the Child, worth $100,000, will be awarded April 15th in Mariefred, Sweden.

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