A Kids Rigts Initiative

Lifestory Mayra

In 2008, Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu presented Mayra Avellar Neves, at the age of 17, the Children’s Peace Prize, for her ongoing fight against the violence in the favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and her own favela, Vila Cruzeiro, in particular.

When Mayra was only 11 years old, her favela was closed off by so many checkpoints that schools and clinics had to be closed because doctors and teachers could not reach them. She, however, refused to accept this and found another school outside the favela and demanded her right to education. When Mayra was 15 years old, she mobilized hundreds of youths to participate in a community march against violence. Their direct demand was that the police should stop patrolling around schools during the times that children walk to and from school. This took great courage, as the march passed by many of these armed police patrols. More than 300 children participated in the ´Walk for Peace´. As a result of this action the police agreed to the demands and children started coming back to school again – a great achievement with far-reaching implications for life in the favela.

In 2009, Mayra and Thandiwe (winner 2007) attended a UN conference in New York on violence against girls. There, the laureates addressed the audience, including Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Martha Santos Pais and, then, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Maxime Verhagen.

In 2010, Mayra, Thandiwe en Baruani (winner 2008), participated in the KidsRights MDGs Conference in Johannesburg. Mayra spoke about the role of education in countering discrimination and for promotion of peace. Other speakers were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mrs. Graça Machel and Mr. F.W. De Klerk.

With the theatre group Favela Força (“favela power”), which shows the powerful and positive culture of the favela population, Mayra has toured to the Netherlands and still performs within Brazil. To be able to improve her performance, Mayra also follows African dance classes.

She is also still involved in a programme called Girls-Mothers. This programme speaks with teenage mothers about the risks of teenage pregnancy and motherhood and about possible ways of prevention.

Next to her social activism, Mayra also studies social sciences at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro. After her studies, Mayra wants to be teacher so she can pass on the knowledge she has gained through life and her educational career.


2008 Winner Mayra Avellar Neves

Name               Mayra Avellar Neves
Nationality      Brazilian
Year of birth   1991
Residence      Rio de Janeiro
Winner in        2008
Subject           Violence in the favelas

Where does the winner live?





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