In an award ceremony on Thursday, children from 15 countries recognised the Child Rights Heroes of millions of children around the world: James Kofi Annan from Ghana, Sompop Jantraka from Thailand and Kimmie Weeks from Liberia fight for the rights of slave children, vulnerable girls and children affected by war. They were presented with their awards by the children and Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria at a ceremony at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden.
James Kofi Annan was chosen by 2.2 million children in a Global Vote to decide who would be the recipient of their most prestigious award for contributions to children’s rights, the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. James was singled out for his ten-year struggle to rescue children forced to work as fishing slaves and help them to a better life.
“I am humbled to be receiving this honour and would like to dedicate this award to the thousands of children who remain enslaved in small scale fishing on Lake Volta in Ghana,” says Annan. “My life, my work and my story is testament to this great waste of talent and resource. As a child I was sold into fishing slavery, where on Lake Volta I was abused for almost seven years before I escaped. I then supported myself through education and was able to put this past behind me. But I am humbled to submit that children much more talented than myself, who have so much to offer this world, continue to be enslaved on Lake Volta. That is why child rights are so important. All children have the right to be free from torture and abuse, all children have the right to an education! I thank the millions of children that have participated in the Worlds Children’s Prize. You, the world’s children, are instrumental in ensuring that the rights of the child are upheld.’
The ceremony also recognised the efforts of Sompop Jantraka from Thailand, for his 25-year battle against the child sex trade and to support particularly vulnerable children in the Golden Triangle. He shared the Children’s Honorary Award with Kimmie Weeks from Liberia. Kimmie was honoured for his 20-year fight for children suffering as a result of war.
“Only a good heart, love and care can change the world’, says Sompop Jantraka. “It doesn’t matter if you have a good education or not, if you have power or not, you have a lot of money or not. You can only be part of changing the world by your strong heart. You must have the heart to change the world! My work is going to continue, and the one thing that pushes me to continue is the encouragement from the children. When I go back home I will tell the children that there are more than two million children that recognize their rights.”
“Receiving the World’s Children’s Prize is a challenge for what we must do in the future,” says Kimmie Weeks. “There are still children who are dying from hunger. There are still children used as child slaves, there are still children being exploited. And our work has not ended, this is only the beginning. We must support the World’s Children’s Prize, because of all of the hundreds of thousands of children who will learn about their rights and about people who are defending children’s rights. (Source:www.worldschildrensprize.org)