James Kofi Annan is commended with the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize for his work to stop child slavery. James himself was a fishing slave as a child, for seven years. He managed to escape, get an education and become a bank manager. Six years ago he left the bank to work solely to stop child slavery. At that time he had already started an organisation called Challenging Heights, in 2003, which had liberated over 500 children from slavery.
James believes that poverty causes slavery, and education combats poverty. Liberated slave children come first to Challenging Heights’ safe home for 65 children. The children have had difficult experiences, and are given rehabilitation and security. When they are strong enough, they can return home to their parents and attend an ordinary school. It can take a year before they are ready.
Challenging Heights also runs a school for 700 pupils of different ages. They offer training and loans to poor mothers so that they can support their families and not have to sell their children into slavery. Through 21 Child Rights Clubs, Challenging Heights teaches 630 vulnerable children about the rights of the child and campaigns against slavery. Through his work and Challenging Heights, James has supported over 10,000 children who have been slaves or at risk of slavery.