Asfaw Yemiru from Ethiopia received The World's Childrens Prize in 2001 because he had then spent over 50 years, since he was 14, devoting all of his time and energy to fighting for the rights of the most deprived children.
Asfaw believed that education was the only way to help poor children to improve their lives. He started his first school for children living on the streets in 1957 at the age of 14, after he himself had been living on the streets from the age of nine, working as a child labourer. Asfaw passed away in 2021, but his memory and legacy lives on.
Tens of thousands of poor children have received their education in Asfaw’s schools, and he has also offered support to their families by providing money and milk. Asfaw’s schools are free, and nobody has to pay for school books or buy a school uniform.
Caning has always been forbidden in Asfaw’s schools, where the children also learn about farming and other practical skills.
Asfaw’s struggle to give poor children the chance of a better life has been long and often hard – he was imprisoned several times.
Learn more about Asfaw in the Globe Magazine from 2010:
Text: Andreas Lönn, Photos: Paul Blomgren