TWO million children - including many from South Africa - have elected Phymean Noun from Cambodia to be the Child Rights Hero of the Year and recipient of the World’s Children’s Prize.
The award is often refered to as the “Children’s Nobel Prize” and honoured Noun, 36, for her plight to educate children living on garbage dumps in Phnom Penh.
Javier Stauring from the USA and Kailash Satyarthi from India are honourary award laureates and previous laureates include Graça Machel, Nelson Mandela, Ann Skelton, Hector Pieterson and Nkosi Johnson posthumously.
The World’s Children’s Prize Foundation (WCPF) spokesperson Marlene Weinberg said a ceremony led by children from ten countries was held to honour the laureates at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden on Wednesday.
Also at the ceremony was H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, who along with other guests was treated to a performance by a band of nine children from Khayelitsha and Delft.
Weinberg said the R1.3 million prize money will be used in the laureates’ work.
“In previous years the prize has helped improve the lives of tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable children. Last year’s laureate Malala Yousafzai used her prize money to rebuild schools in Gaza,” she said.
Weinberg said Stauring supports children in prison an fights for children serving life sentences to have the chance to one day be released, and Satyarthi fights against child slavery and child labour and for children’s right to education.
South African patrons for the award includes Ahmed Kathrada, Iqbal Survé and the singer Vusi ‘The Voice’ Mahlasela.
WCPF is funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, H.M. Queen Silvia’s Care About the Children Foundation, the Survé Family Foundation, eWork, Giving Wings, Futura Foundations and Sparbanksstiftelsen Rekarne.
Speaking on behalf of the Survé Family Foundation, Nadia Kamies said: “For us as a family the reason why we support it is because the award is chosen for the children by the children. The participants have also all experienced human rights abuses so there is a link there to SA, where many have suffered similar abuses.
“SA is one of the largest members which is significant because of our past. As South Africans we are very proud to be supporters of WCPF.”