The International Children’s Peace Prize 2012 was presented to Kesz (13) from the Philippines at the Ridderzaal in The Hague today. Of the three nominated children, who have all made extraordinary efforts in the area of children’s rights, the Expert Committee selected Kesz as the winner. He was awarded the prize by Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.
Kesz received this award for his efforts to improve the rights of street children in the Philippines, where more than 246,000 street children are subjected to abuse, violence and child labour. Many of them also struggle to cope with major health issues. Kesz was in the same situation. He was severely abused and forced to scavenge at the dumpsite at the age of two. Three years later, he sustained burns on his arm and back, which forced him to run away and look for help. He has transformed his own experiences into a drive to help other street children and inspire them to change their own lives.
Kesz: “My message to all children around the globe is; our health is our wealth! Being healthy will enable you to play, to think clearly, to get up and go to school and love the people around you in so many ways. To everyone in the world, please remember that every day, 6,000 children die from diseases associated with poor sanitation, poor hygiene, and we can do something about it! Please join me in helping street children achieve better health and better lives.”
Gifts of Hope
For his seventh birthday, Kesz didn’t want any presents for himself. Instead, he wanted to give something to other street children: Gifts of Hope. That same year, Kesz started his own organization, Championing Community Children, aimed at giving street children hope and showing them that they can take their future into their own hands. Every week, he and his friends go to underprivileged communities to teach children about hygiene, food and children’s rights. He even takes things a step further, by teaching children how to teach each other. He has so far helped more than 10,000 children in his local area.
During this eighth award ceremony for the International Children’s Peace Prize, specific research into the winner’s theme was presented for the first time. Ton Liefaard, Professor of Children’s Rights, focused on the findings of the first “KidsReport” titled: “Street Children Have Rights Too!”. The report emphasises that the rights of street children are still being trampled on.
Kesz was presented with the prize by Desmond Tutu, the patron of KidsRights and the International Children’s Peace Price. According to Tutu, Kesz is a deserving and inspiring example of “a new voice for the voiceless”. Kesz was presented with the Nkosi, a unique sculpture which shows how a child can move the world. The sculpture symbolises the impact of the International Children’s Peace Prize: in recent years, millions of people have become aware of the prize, which offers Kesz a global platform to make his voice heard and tell his courageous story.
The ceremony was concluded with a special announcement by Mayra, who won the Children’s Peace Prize in 2008. A confrontational video message marked the launch of the Remember2015 movement, an initiative of KidsRights to breathe new life into the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 for children.