|Kesz Valdez, one of the three nominees for the International Children's Peace Prize 2012. Photo from childrenspeaceprize.org
MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino is one of the three nominees for this year’s International Children’s Peace Prize, which is awarded by a Nobel Peace Prize winner to a child who has made a significant contribution to advocating their rights.
Kesz Valdez, 13, was recognized for helping provide the basic needs of over 10,000 street children through an organization called “Caring Children,” which he set up when he was seven years old. He grew up being abused – he was forced to scavenge at the dumpsite at age two, and sustained burns on his arms and back when he was three.
Valdez, who hails from Cavite, was then taken under the care of CNN Hero Efren Peñaflorida. In an interview with ABS-CBN News, the young teen said he is happy that their efforts to promote children’s rights are being recognized.
He believes that one does not need to reach a certain age or achieve financial success to make a difference on the lives of others.
The other two nominees are 15-year-old Amina from Ghana and 16-year-old Anwara from India. Amina founded an organization that defends the rights of children, particularly those related to education, while Anwara has been fighting girl trafficking and early marriage after being forced to do domestic labor.
Their last names were not mentioned by organizers.
On September 19, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu will present the International Children’s Peace Prize to one of the three nominees in The Hague, Netherlands.
“The International Children’s Peace Prize is a very important award because it gives children who have made a significant contribution to a more peaceful world easier access to an international platform. Day after day, these three brave nominees fight for the children in their country, sometimes even in dangerous circumstances,” Tutu said in a statement. “Children are the future, but they are not always heard.”
The International Children’s Peace Prize was launched by Dutch children’s rights organization KidsRights in Rome in 2005, during the Nobel Peace Laureates’ Summit.
An independent expert committee assesses the candidates, with the winner getting 100,000 euros to be spent on projects connected to his or her area of work.
He or she will also receive financial support for his or her education. – With a report from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News