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Blind child rights hero receives 'Children’s Nobel Prize’

Manuel Rodrigues from Guinea-Bissau, bottom right, was selected by children around the world to receive child rights award the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child. Molly Melching is second from the left, and Rosi Gollmann is fourth from the left. Behind them are members of the Child Jury.

Manuel Rodrigues from Guinea-Bissau, bottom right, was selected by children around the world to receive child rights award the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child. Molly Melching is second from the left, and Rosi Gollmann is fourth from the left. Behind them are members of the Child Jury.

Published Apr 27, 2017

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Cape Town – Manuel Rodrigues, a blind child rights activist from Guinea-Bissau, on Wednesday received the child rights award, The World’s Children’s Prize (WCP), often called the ‘Children’s Nobel Prize’.

This is the result of the Global Vote, by millions of children around the world.

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Manuel was honoured in recognition of his work for children with disabilities, who face being kept hidden or abandoned to die.

In Guinea-Bissau, it is hard for children with disabilities to go to school. Many have been kept hidden away, or abandoned to die. Through Manuel’s work, however, both attitudes and legislation are changing rapidly, so that children with different abilities can grow up in safety, attend school, and have a good life.

Manuel was one of the three nominees for the award, nominated by a child jury whose members are experts on the rights of the child, through their own life experiences as refugees, slaves and soldiers, amongst others.

Since the launch in 2000, a total of 40.6 million children have participated in the World’s Children’s Prize programme, the world’s largest annual educational initiative for children on rights and democracy.

Two other child rights activists, 90-year-old Rosi Gollmann, from Germany, and Molly Melching, from the USA and Senegal, were also honoured on Wednesday.

Gollman’s work includes rescuing tens of thousands of girls in India from being killed at birth, and Melching has led pioneering initiatives to tackle female genital cutting and child marriage in West Africa.

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Both received the World’s Children’s Honorary Award.

All three nominees for the award were honoured at a ceremony today at Gripsholm Castle, in Mariefred, Sweden, where children from 15 countries were assisted by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden in presenting the prizes. The prize money, totalling SEK 700,000, is split between this year’s child rights hero (SEK 350 000) and the two honorary award laureates (SEK 175 000 each) and is to go towards the prize laureates’ work with children.

Abatsha, a young band from Cape Town, South Africa, played at the WCP Ceremony. Five of the band members are pupils at Chris Hani Secondary School in Khayelitsha, where the World’s Children’s Prize programme is implemented annually, and where the band members and other pupils are trained as WCP Child Rights Ambassadors.

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Previous prize laureates include the children’s Decade Child Rights Heroes Graça Machel and Nelson Mandela, Ann Skelton, Hector Pieterson and Nkosi Johnson (the latter two, posthumously).

Many public figures have shown their support for the WCP by becoming patrons, including Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Desmond Tutu, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. On Wednesday, the Swedish Minister for Children, Åsa Regnér, became a new patron. South African patrons also include the late Ahmed Kathrada, Executive Chairman of Sekunjalo and Independent Media Dr Iqbal Survé and the singer, Vusi ‘The Voice’ Mahlasela.

The World’s Children’s Prize Foundation (WCPF) is supported by donors including the Swedish Postcode Lottery, Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), Forum Syd, Julia and Hans Rausing Trust, Care about the Children (H.M. Queen Silvia’s foundation) and the Survé Family Foundation (part of Survé Philanthropies).

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