A14-year-old Cameroonian has been adjudged winner of the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize.
“Everyone can make a difference in bringing peace to their societies,” said Divina Maloum after receiving the award.
She was acknowledged for her peaceful fight against extremist violence and radicalization in the north of Cameroon. She works to promote child participation in peace building and sustainable development.
The Cameroonian teenager was also rewarded for her efforts in promoting children’s rights by visiting schools to warn students against joining armed groups such as Boko Haram.
Maloum started the Children for Peace movement (C4P) in 2015 to work with child victims of terror following her visit to Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria, where the insurgencies of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, have displaced two million people and killed more than 27,000.
She said she was horrified that children were the greatest victims of the conflict and started thinking of what she could do to help those who were joining Boko Haram, either by force or out of ignorance.
“I noticed that the rights of children especially for girls were violated. You see a girl of five years getting married to an old man of 60 years. You see boys, girls who are carriers of bombs (suicide bombers), so I decided to create that association to stimulate the civic and voluntary engagement of children in the fight against violent extremism. To make them peacebuilders in their communities. To also make them to be change-makers,” Maloum said.
Led passionately by Maloum, Children for Peace now has a network of 100 children across Cameroon’s 10 regions. She organizes inter-community children’s peace camps, established peace clubs in mosques, and together with other children, issued a children’s declaration against violent extremism.
Maloum’s message to the world is: “When the power of love will become greater than the love of power, man shall have another name which is God.”
She believes that children are the true carriers of peace and that peer education is the best way to reach them.
Young Maloum is passionately interested in restoring peace to the agitating regions of Anglophone Cameroon, where most schools have been closed for three years due to clashes between the country’s military and armed separatists.
The prize which was awarded by Dutch organization, KidsRights was won together with 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
The International Children’s Peace Prize is an annual award given to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights.
The winner receives the statuette ‘Nkosi’, which illustrates how a child sets the world in motion as well as a study and care grant and a worldwide platform to promote his or her ideals and causes to the benefit of children’s rights.
Additionally, a project fund of €100,000 is invested by KidsRights in projects that are closely connected to the winners’ area of work in the country of the winner.