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The International Children’s Peace Prize is an initiative of the children’s rights organization KidsRights. This prestigious prize was awarded on Universal Children’s Day in The Hague. From an impressive 137 applicants from 56 countries, the KidsRights’ Expert Committee selected Divina from Cameroon and Greta from Sweden as winners. Each year the Prize is presented by a Nobel Peace Laureate, this year Kailash Satyarthi from India. Divina received it for her peaceful fight against extremist violence and radicalization. Greta received the prize for her international climate activism.
DIVINA TESTIFIES UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS
During the award ceremony Divina stated that Africa is suffering an escalation of violence and insecurity perpetrated by terrorist groups like Boko Haram and many others. In her country Cameroon, unspeakable horrors are inflicted upon children and thousands are forced to flee their homes in inhumane conditions. Many parents have seen children, relatives or neighbors killed and raped. Children were abducted, brutalized, tortured and forcibly recruited. In Cameroon, children are the biggest victims of terrorist attacks.
Children for Peace
She has built a grass-roots, youth-led, movement of around 100 permanent members in 10 regions of Cameroon, called Children for Peace. She has organized inter-community children’s peace camps, established peace clubs in mosques, and together with other children, issued a children’s declaration against violent extremism. Maloum said her main concern now is for peace to return to the restive English-speaking regions of Cameroon, where most schools have been closed for three years due to fighting between armed separatists and the country’s military.
Maloum said she believes everyone can make a difference in bringing peace to their societies.
Language barriers are an issue when it comes to spreading a national message of peace. Cameroon is home to a diverse mix of cultures, languages and dialects. Divina therefore has created cartoons explaining the horrors of violent extremism. Divina consulted children who had experienced violence personally, and with her team, she incorporated their stories into cartoons for everyone to understand. So far, Divina has distributed more than 3,000 cartoons.
Divina also uses the cartoons as the basis for meaningful conversations about peace. As well as spreading awareness within her own school and Koranic schools in the capital, she also visits street children, children orphaned by conflict, and underprivileged children from rural areas in the north. She continues to march on the capital to spread the message of peace, and to talk to her peers about the true meaning of peace building.
Divina understands the power of children. She teaches children to speak up, quite literally, and to believe that their voice should be heard.