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DISPATCH: The Rewards of Awards
Posted on October 31, 2002 by Anita

This week, The Body Shop announced four new recipients of our Human Rights Award. From Kenya, Bulgaria, Honduras, and Israel, each is doing brave and noble grassroots work on housing or land-rights issues. Much has and will be made of the four $300,000 awards, but perhaps what makes me proudest of this program is not that we hand out checks and are satisfied with a good deed, because we are not, but that we follow the recipients of these awards to find out what amazing things they accomplish long after the awards ceremonies and media flashbulbs are gone.

One of the proudest moments in my 27 years with The Body Shop was our first Human Rights Award ceremony. In 2000, we gave $75,000 each to four wonderful grassroots organizations from around the world which were -- and continue to be -- doing amazing work to stamp out exploitive child labor and to help guarantee children the right to an education. Two years after we honored them, they have continued to astonish us with their creativity, resourcefulness and raw effectiveness. In every case, we did the easy work by awarding them some money, and they did the hard work by turning that into remarkable achievements through patience, difficult work, long hours, and indefatigable dedication.

  • The Peace Trust in the state of Tamil Nadu in India has been dedicated to bringing international attention to the problem of children in indentured servitude there. Many of the young girls in this desperately poor region are forced to work as domestic servants to wealthier families to support their own parents rather than attend school. In 2001, with some of the funds from the award, The Peace Trust organized a "long march" of 200 child laborers from Tamil Nadu to New Delhi to publicize the extent of the problem. They have also launched a campaign in their home state to persuade parents not to allow girls to miss school in favor of work, and to pressure wealthy families to refuse to employ such children. In turn, The Peace Trust is helping to supply the children with school supplies and their families with food so they may return to school.

  • In 2000, the WAO Afrique in Togo, West Africa was concerned that it was about to dissolve for lack of resources. The Human Rights Award breathed new life into its efforts to bring international attention to the trafficking of child slaves in West Africa. They have opened two health clinics for child laborers a center where child slaves can seek refuge and to resume their educations. The WAO Afrique has taken a leadership role in the region in educating farmers about the dangers of child labor and helping governments and other NGOs assemble a unified strategy to stem the flow of cross-border child trafficking.

  • As many as 3 million Brazilian children between the ages of 10 and 14 work in the sisal, sugar cane and tobacco plantations. School is considered a luxury most families cannot afford. The Momiento Organizao Communitaria (MOC) is fighting the vicious cycle of child labor, illiteracy and poverty in the north eastern state of Bahia, where sisal is the primary crop. With its 2000 Human Rights Award, MOC has introduced an ingenious program to donate goats to Bahia families in exchange for a promise that they allow their children to attend school, rather than work. The goats often provide enough financial security and milk to compensate for the lost labor income.

  • The garbage dump -- La Chureca -- in Managua is crawling with little forms; they are not rats, but children. The poverty in this city has driven children to scavenge amidst the rubbish for food and items which can be sold. None of the children attends school. Dos Generaciones of Nicaragua, a 2000 Human Rights Award winner has used its grant to build a vocational center for adolescents right on the dump site. The center offers educational courses and vocational training, and most of all hope. The children of the Managua dump now have the opportunity to free themselves of the cycle of poverty, crime, and illiteracy.

    I have little doubt that this year's winners (announced last night!) will put their awards to as good use. I look forward to looking back on them in two years and seeing how much they manage to do with our investment.

  • Topic : Human_rights
    Posted By : Anita
    Posted On : October 31, 2002



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