Each year, prizes are awarded to those who fight for the rights of children. Two of the main prizes are awarded by the Norway-based organization World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child.
The recipient of the Global Friends Award is chosen by the votes of millions of children. And the recipient of the main prize, the World’s Children’s Prize, is chosen by a jury of children from 15 countries, some of whom had been child soldiers, street kids or slaves – or were forced to work in brothels.
Magnus Bergmar is the executive director of the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. From Mariefred, Norway, he told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about this year’s recipients of the Global Friends Award and the World’s Children’s Prize.
“This year, there were 3.8 million children all over the world taking part in the Global Friends Award. Schools in the Amazon, schools in the Sahara Desert, schools in India, well, schools everywhere. It’s a new voting record. For the first time ever the three candidates received more than one million votes (each). It was a very, very tight race at the end.” The winner was the Rwandan orphan organization AOCM, which was founded by children made orphans by the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The recipient of the World’s Children’s Prize is a 22-year-old Canadian, Craig Kielburger. Ten years ago, when he was 12, he founded Free the Children, an organization that has built about 400 schools in around the world.
Bergmar says the prizes are important. “They award people around the world who really have done a tremendous job for the rights of the child. But it’s even more important because it is the children’s award. Millions and millions of children around the world learn about their own rights. They dare stand up and tell their parents or at school or in the society: Don’t treat us like this. We have rights…to be respected.”