The teenagers’ pioneering work to provide support for refugee children fleeing war in their home country and around the world, have made them beacons of hope and a true inspiration for others across the globe.
This year, the International Children’s Peace Prize ceremony was held in The Palace of Whitehall, London, and was attended by important dignitaries from across the world.
The ceremony was opened by Mpho Tutu, daughter of the patron of the International Children’s Peace Prize and KidsRights, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The keynote speaker was Ndaba Mandela, the chairman of the Mandela Institute for Humanity, whose grandfather, Nelson Mandela, asked him to carry on his legacy.
Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and member of the expert committee for the International Children’s Peace Prize, Benyam Mezmur, then proceeded to announce the winners from the UN’s headquarters in New York.
This was all before the prestigious prize was presented by Ouided Bouchamaoui, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2015, along with the Nkosi statuette, a study and care grant for Anastasiia’s, Sofiia’s and Anastasiia’s education, and a project fund of €100,000.
Half of the project fund will go to the winner’s theme, and the other half will be invested by KidsRights in the projects of other young changemakers fighting for children’s rights.
Sofiia Tereshchenko, Anastasiia Feskova and Anastasiia Demchenko were working together on a project to develop a mobile app when the country was invaded by Russia in 2022. Aged just 16 and 17 at the time, the girls were truly shocked by the stories of other children being forced to cross the border to other countries and become a refugee without any parent to rely on.
They immediately shifted the focus of their mobile app project, to build a solution that supported refugee children in need while fleeing Ukraine themselves to the USA, UK and Japan, where under very difficult circumstances they managed to build two apps that are now operational.
The first, ‘Refee’, is aimed at those 4 – 11 years of age and helps them find all the information they need when they arrive in a new country. This includes first steps, as well as communication advice so they can access basic needs such as safety, food and shelter. The second, ‘SVITY’, is targeted at those 16 years of age and above who are struggling to integrate in their new country by facilitating conversation between refugee children and those from host communities. Both apps are live and available to download from the App Store.
As of the end of 2022, 43.3 million children have been displaced due to conflict and violence across the world, accounting for 40 percent of all forcibly displaced people.
The International Children’s Peace Prize, the most important youth award worldwide, is an initiative of the international children’s rights organisation, KidsRights.
The KidsRights Expert Committee selected Sofiia, Anastasiia and Anastasiia as winners from 140 young changemaker nominees with entries from 35 countries around the world. By winning the award, the Ukrainian teenagers have gained an international platform through which they can share their message further and continue to inspire an audience of billions of people globally. Last year the message of the winner reached 2.2bn people.
The International Children’s Peace Prize Ceremony
The prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize was launched in 2005 during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev. Since then, the prize has been presented by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate every year.
After receiving the prestigious award, Anastasiia, Sofiia and Anastasiia, said: “The International Children’s Peace Prize highlights that the voices of child refugees will be heard across the world, giving us all further strength to fight for our rights and safety in the face of danger.”
Marc Dullaert, Founder and Chair of the KidsRights Foundation said: “Currently, nearly 10 million unaccompanied child refugees are trying to find safety. The amazing initiative of the young Ukrainian International Children’s Peace Prize winners provides an essential need, but it also exposes an embarrassing problem and urges governments to protect child refugees around the world.”
The International Children’s Peace Prize highlights the remarkable achievements of youngsters fighting courageously for children’s rights across the world. Previous winners include Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg.