The International Children’s Peace Prize 2017 will be awarded on December 4, 2017. This is a prize awarded annually to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights.
Established in the year 2005, the first year award was given posthumously to Nkosi Johnson from South Africa, for the outstanding work he was doing with children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Here’s a look at the ten nominees from India this year.
1. Shailendra Singh – 17
Would you believe it if I said that this young boy has personally stopped five child marriages from taking place in his village? He did this by convincing the parents and the children of the ill effects and negative consequences of doing this. He is an active champion for educating children and ensuring that child marriage ends.
He has also been actively working to ensure that child labour ends and that each child attends a proper school. He has been instrumental in getting 33 children out of jobs and into schools.
2. Nikhiya Shamsher – 15
As the daughter of doctors, Nikhiya was never exposed to the perils of poverty. It was a chance encounter that changed the course of her life. She gave her school bag to her house help and the thank you note she received for it made her realise that due to the lack of resources many children in the country are unable to attend school.
This was the reason why she started Bags, Books and Blessings, a project which urges those who can afford it to donate school supplies for those who cannot afford it. With the success of this project she started her second project – “Yearn to Learn” which has so far set up 35 laboratories of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Math in 9 schools. Some of these labs are being shared by nearby government schools as well. These labs are benefiting around 6000 students.
3. Sakthi Ramesh – 12
Having spent many nights out on the streets with his family, Shakti has a real sense of what poverty means and can do to one. Since children like him were treated harhly by others in school he dropped out and started working to supplement the family income.
He heard about Hand in Hand India’s which is a residential special training school. Having joined this school his life turned around and he now spends his free time convincing other kids like him to join the school. He has personally been responsible for almost 25 kids ho attend the school.
4. Sumitra Nayak – 17
When she was all of four, her mother left her alcoholic and abusive husband, taking Sumithra and her three younger siblings with her to start a new life. The new life was also one with many hardships. On several days Sumitra would have to sleep hungry because there was never enough money to buy food. In 2008 she was offered the opportunity to study for free and stay at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences. She took that offer up and pursued her studies and her ambition to become an international rugby player.
In 2014 Sumitra led her team to victory at the Touraid Under 13 Girls International Rugby Tournament in London. Since then she has been actively involved in training the juniors and is also keen on starting a residential school in her village.
She is truly an inspiration to many.
5. Anand Krishna Mishra – 13
BalChoupal is the name of the organisation that Anand started in the year 2012, primarily with the aim of helping those underprivileged students who wanted to study but were unable to because of financial constraints.
In five years since its inception, BalChoupal has reached over 50,000 children, of whom 750 are now going to school, and provides books, without any government aid to them.
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6. Aitisha Marwein – 17
With an abusive father at home, performing badly at school had become a routine for Aitisha. Coming out of that, she empowered herself to fight the abuse and started taking interest in education. Aitisha firmly believes that education is a powerful tool for the protection of children and the safeguarding of their rights.
7. Nidhi Kumar – 15
Nidhi lives in Bihar with her grandparents. Due to acute poverty, her parents could not afford to keep her with them. Despite a lot of opposition from the locals for sending Nidhi to school, her grandfather insisted on getting her educated.
Nidhi is an example of how education can transform lives. She has become a leading member of a children’s group dealing with children’s rights issues at her school.
She conducts rights-based training sessions in colleges and other villages, encouraging people to join the movement for children’s rights. Over 600 people in her village have already signed an oath to uphold the rights of children.
8. Saleha Banu – 17
Right to education and good health for all children are the two areas that Saleha is working towards. She has motivated more than 200 girls in her community, out of which ten girls have returned to school as well. In the past two years, she has spoken to over 1500 teenagers via over 250 sessions on healthy menstrual hygiene practices and other issues related to WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Saleha works in the slums of Mumbai to build sustainable community-based interventions to deal with Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM) cases.
9. Kiran Garva – 14
Kiran studied in a government school until her father passed away. Unable to afford to send her to school any longer, her mother placed her and her siblings in the care of her grandmother. Kiran was desperate to study and was always trying to find ways for that.
She was noticed by a team from SOS children’s village, where she now lives and goes to school. Kiran advocates for the right to education, convincing other parents to let their children go to school, and she also conducts workshops on children’s rights. Four children are now attending school as a direct result of Kiran’s advocacy.
10. Poonam – 16
A resident of a slum in Agra, like all the other children there, Poonam was also forced into child labour. She has been working since the age of 5. It was sheer determination to break free that has resulted in where she is today.
Today, she is the district secretary of a federation of street and working children in North India, reporting and intervening in many cases of violation of children’s rights, including child abuse, child marriage, children’s right to education and child trafficking. She has reached over 2000 children to teach them about their rights and help them with their problems.
Nelson Mandela rightly said, “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who care for and protect our people.”
We at The Better India wish each nominee all the best and applaud the work that they have been relentlessly doing. It is people like these that make this a better India.
Photo source: Kids Rights