Readers of the FTS Blog may remember the heroism of Ghanaian slavery survivor James Kofi Annan. He received a 2008 Free the Slaves Freedom Award for his work to rescue children from fishing slavery, as well as his work to educate children to prevent the spread of slavery.
Now, James has been nominated for a World’s Children’s Prize. The award promotes children’s rights and global educational programs. Candidates for the prize are nominated by children aged 10 to 18 throughout the world. Then, kids vote for who will win. The online ballot box is now open. Voting ends on October 1st, 2013.
James certainly deserves the nomination and hopefully he’ll win the prize. He lost his childhood at age 6. James’ parents sold him into slavery because they felt they could not afford to feed or school him. He worked under horrible conditions in fishing villages from sunrise to sunset. He was barely fed and hardly had any shelter.
At age 13, James escaped. He befriended children in a school and used their books to learn to read. He worked to feed himself and put himself through school, eventually earning a master’s degree. He became a banker, but decided to leave banking to work full time helping free kids from slavery.
“By rescuing others, I feel I’m rescuing myself,” James says. “I feel that I’m correcting the injustice that was done when I was young.”
James’ organization is called Challenging Heights. It operates a rescue shelter for more than 60 children and a school for 700 students of different ages, and helps communities organize to resist child trafficking.
“James is a passionate advocate for children and dedicated to ensuring that no child ever ends up enslaved as he was,” says FTS Ghana Manager Christy Gillmore. “He understands the root causes of slavery and works to empower communities and children to protect themselves from slavery. He brings children home and makes sure they never go back.”
In another development, James has been selected as a “Change Leader” for an organization called Reach for Change. The group promotes social entrepreneurship as an instrument to advance children’s rights. They support “passionate, result-driven, competitive and involved” people who give their voices for change for children.
James certainly is that. Congratulations to James on his recent honors.