Mayra Avellar Neves wins the International Children’s Peace Prize 2008
Desmond Tutu hands over international children’s peace prize in the ridderzaal
Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu handed over the fourth International Children’s Peace Prize to Mayra Avellar Neves from Brazil at a ceremony held in the Ridderzaal. Mayra was awarded the prize for her courageous and successful battle against extreme violence in the favela’s of Rio de Janeiro, which each year costs thousands of children their lives. The Children’s Peace Prize includes prize money of EUR 100,000. The Dutch foundation KidsRights, the founder of the prize, invests the prize money in specific projects that are closely related to Mayra’s struggle for peace.
Mayra’s struggle against violence
Mayra grew up in one of the most violent favela’s in Rio, in the midst of a civil war between the drugs cartels and between the cartels and the police. The violence rose to such extreme levels that, when Mayra was eleven years old, the neighbourhood was cut off and became virtually inaccessible to medical and teaching staff. As a result, schools and clinics were closed. At 15 years old, Mayra mobilised hundreds of children and youths to take part in a protest march, demanding that the police cease their patrols during school hours. That march was certainly not without its risks. The police agreed to her demands and since then many children have been able to return to school. However, Mayra’s fight goes on, as life in the favela’s remains extremely dangerous and the local facilities are poor. Last year she organised another march, this time appealing to everybody in the favela and elsewhere to stand up for the fundamental rights of slum dwellers. Or, in her own words: “Everybody has a part to play in improving human rights, in particular the rights of children as the future generation. We can and must stand up for these children, whose rights are being violated and whose lives are at risk.”
Mayra Media Attention
The Children’s Peace Prize 2008 has generated a lot of attention. The ceremony with Desmond Tutu and the impressive story of Mayra are extensively covered on radio, television, Internet and in the newspapers. Amongst others Mayra had an interview with BBC World Service, MTV Europe did a special on her and several national news shows have broadcasted special items. Here you can find a summary of articles and broadcasts: