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Thandiwe Chama, 16, from Zambia (C) smiles while sitting between ...Thandiwe Chama, 16, from Zambia (C) smiles while sitting between former Peace Prize winner Betty Williams (L) and Bob Geldof during the 2007 Children’s Peace Prize award presentation in the Hague, the Netherlands December 16, 2007.

REUTERS/Michael Kooren

A SIXTEEN-year-old Zambian girl, Thandiwe Chama of Lusaka’s Chawama township has scooped the 2007 International Children’s Peace Prize beating 28 other nominees from across the world.

According to a Press release issued yesterday, the prestigious prize was presented to Thandiwe in The Hague on Sunday by Nobel Peace Laureate, Betty Williams and Live8 initiator, Sir Bob Geldof.

The Children’s Peace Prize, an initiative of the KidsRights Foundation, is awarded annually to a child who has made an exceptional contribution to children’s rights.

The Prize consists of a statuette – “the Nkosi” – and 100,000 euros, which are to be awarded to a direct aid project in the spirit of the young winner’s efforts.

The statuette was named after the first winner Nkosi Johnson who was awarded the prize posthumously in 2005 for the great contribution he made during his tragically short life to the position of children with AIDS.

Last year’s winner, the former child slave Om Prakash from India, was received by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who on that occasion announced an extra contribution of 200 million pounds toward education for the poor and prevention of child labour.

The prize was launched in Rome in 2005 by the Nobel Peace Laureates, during the Nobel for Peace Summit chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1999, when she was only eight-years-old, her school was closed because there were no teachers. Thandiwe refused to accept this and led 60 other children in walking to find another school. As a result, all the children were taken into the Jack Cecup School

Strengthened by this achievement, Thandiwe has been fighting ever since for the right to education for all children.

Thandiwe continues to impress, for example by speaking in church about children and AIDS – an issue not always discussed easily in churches. With a friend, she wrote and illustrated a booklet called “The Chicken with AIDS”, telling young children about the perils of AIDS.

She also co-authored a song called “For My Sake” about the need for children to be supported and protected – a song which has already been played in South Africa, Tanzania, as well as the United Kingdom.

Sources: Times of Zambia, Reuters & Associated Press