|© UNICEF Tanzania/2009/Mwita|
|16-year-old Congolese refugee Baruani Ndume proudly holds his International Children’s Peace Prize award upon his return to Tanzania.|
By Jacqueline Namfua
KASULU, Tanzania, 6 January 2010 – A 16-year-old Congolese refugee boy has been awarded the annual International Children’s Peace Prize for producing a children’s programme on Radio Kwizera in a Tanzanian refugee camp.
Baruani Ndume was handed the award by Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai during a recent event held in The Hague, in the Netherlands. The prize, organized by KidsRights, a Dutch foundation, comes with a cash gift of approximately 144,000 dollars to be spent on projects related to the winner’s work.
“I am so happy to win this award and for being recognized for my work and efforts with the children’s radio programme. I will continue to make sure people hear, learn and understand child rights,” said Baruani.
This is the first time a refugee child has been awarded this prize. The jury believed that Baruani had championed the rights of children in an extraordinary manner and “under the most impossible circumstances” during his work on the Child for Child programme (C4C) on Radio Kwizera, a refugee-focused radio station based in Tanzania.
Baruani lost his parents while fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been living at a refugee camp in Tanzania since he was seven years old.
UNICEF, together with UNHCR and other partners, support the weekly C4C programme which began airing in March 2008 to help promote child rights while encouraging children’s participating throughout the process.
C4C currently has 22 children volunteering on the programme at the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Kasulu, in northwest Tanzania and they are all full-time students.
Every Sunday afternoon, two young people host the C4C programme and they invite their fellow children to come and talk about their concerns such as the lack of sufficient beds in the hospitals, poor health facilities and high school fees.
Making a difference
The C4C radio programme has helped reunite several children with family members from whom they were separated as they fled during the war. C4C has also worked to get more local children enrolled in school as well as bring awareness and action on child trafficking, HIV, and other social issues.
UNICEF Representative in Tanzania, Heimo Laakkonen said that Radio Kwizera is creating powerful and positive social and behaviour change in the refugee camps and host communities.
“Radio Kwizera is doing a wonderful job advocating for child rights and building awareness, but more importantly, it also promotes children’s participation,” he said “This has had a remarkable impact on the children. Presenting on air has helped develop their capacity and talents and increase their confidence immensely.”
Baruani says he would like to see C4C expand and reach other regions in Tanzania so that all children, parents and teachers can be educated about child rights.
Baruani says that after completing school he wants to continue in the world of broadcasting. “My dream is to produce and host a TV programme focusing on how the community can unite to promote children’s rights.”
16-year-old Congolese refugee Baruani Ndume on his International Children’s Peace Prize for youth radio work