The Courage Awards recognize organizations that demonstrate remarkable courage to improve the lives of young people so they may live in a world free of poverty, injustice, and discrimination.
Among these 12 nominees are leaders who have endured bomb threats, stood up to the Taliban, and defied deeply engrained practices like FGM and child marriage. They have channeled adversity into their causes, boldly pursuing justice for children worldwide.
In their applications, each nominee described what courage means to them in their work. Read on for excerpts of their inspirational responses.
We are immensely grateful to the supporters of the Juliette Gimon Fund for Courageous Leadership for making this award possible.
Stay tuned for the announcement of the inaugural award winners on April 2!
Afghan Institute of Learning / Kabul, Afghanistan
“It takes courage to work in Afghanistan and not be afraid. It means that we need courage to reach all of the people of Afghanistan with the highest quality of services that they request, and to do it in a way that is safe for all of us. It means reaching everyone whether young or old, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, healthy or unhealthy. It means being totally committed to bringing quality education, health, and cultural and spiritual programs to our beneficiaries, no matter the circumstances.”
Asociación Generando (ASOGEN) / Chimaltenango, Guatemala
“Courage means working despite the risks and dangers involved. Due to the impact of convictions in favor of children and adolescent victims of violence, we have suffered threats and intimidation from the perpetrators (the last time perpetrators threw six homemade bombs into our office). Despite these threats, we continue … we are convinced that through what we do, we empower and strengthen the exercising of human rights of children and adolescents, in addition to improving their quality of life.”
Asociación Movimiento de Mujeres por Nuestros Derechos Humanos (MOMUNDH) / Villa El Carmen, Nicaragua
“Due to the violent context and brutal repression in Nicaragua since April 2018, appalling situations of violence and government abuses against citizens who participate in civil protests have intensified … One of the main objectives of MOMUNDH is to empower girls, boys, adolescents, and young people to have courage while they promote and defend their rights. Courageously assuming commitments while empowering organizations and communities … motivates us to continue strengthening the resilience and promoting the wellbeing of girls, boys, and young people.”
Bo Sita MADE / Jos, Nigeria
“Courage is one of the fundamental principles that guides the work we do at Bo Sita MADE. It drives us to go beyond threats, fears, insecurities, and maltreatment to reach children and young women who are at risk of or facing sex trafficking and exploitation.”
Centro de Educación y Desarrollo Comunitario (CEDEC) / Lima, Peru
“Our community education program was built on dumping grounds – and an inaccessible area. … With the slogan, ‘Where others see poverty, we see wealth and opportunities,’ we never surrendered. We overcame many difficulties with these materially poor families, and with our rich spirits, we achieved a dignified, worthy, and safe neighborhood for children, where many reached their own goals and dreams.”
Chanan Development Association / Lahore, Pakistan
“Courage means to stand up against all odds that hinder young people from realizing their real potential to live their lives with dignity, and to make the world a healthy, just, and peaceful place. It means to challenge the customs, norms, and traditions that exist in society, in which the girls are being married before they reach their 18th birthday, often against their own free will and at the expense of their rights to education, health, dignity, and freedom. Courage, for us, means to make the government and political leadership accountable to deliver to the young people what are their fundamental rights, and also to ensure that young people are at the center of all the policy formulation and decision-making processes.”
Danica / Jabuka, Serbia
“We are the only grassroots organization that is in Roma settlements in rural areas of Vojvodina, directly working and communicating with Roma children in poverty. We are courageous because we fight prejudices and stereotypes against Roma children and youth, we fight discrimination and racism in rural multiethnic communities, which all value Roma less. We are exposed to obstacles in the community itself when fighting early marriages and trying to stop this practice in order to keep Roma girls in educational system.”
Kakenya’s Dream / Nairobi, Kenya
“Courage is core to our story – both that of our founder and the risks she took to pursue an education and then to provide education to others, as well as those of the girls we now serve. … All have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to pursue an education. In the communities we serve, 80% of girls undergo FGM in preparation for early marriage. This marks a premature end to their childhood, and, by extension, their education. Centuries of tradition tell girls from the time they are born that their future has already been decided. They must navigate these rigid social norms and expectations while pursuing a new path. Our courageous girls are blazing trails for generations of other women to come. They epitomize courage in our work and in our world.”
Mavi Kalem Social Assistance and Charity Association / Istanbul, Turkey
“Courage is to put in effort and to strive for mitigation of harm and damage in support of disadvantaged and aggrieved people in the societies of the Middle East, where expectations from the ruling power are quite limited and the societies are split based on discriminations of various sorts and actual wars. Courage is making effort for them to gain access to their rights on an individual basis. Courage, in other words, is to support the social groups who are recognized as ‘marginal’ in the societies, to gain and have access to their entitled rights.”
NISHTHA / Kolkata, India
“Courage means the emergence of a strong girl force that can combat against existing gender biases, violence, and injustices against girl-children and women. These girl leaders can effectively lead their groups, mobilize the community members, and influence the policy makers, so that in the future there will be a strong woman force who will take part equally in decision-making processes.”
Prerana / Mumbai, India
“Courage is the work that we’ve been doing for over three decades now with children in the most vulnerable circumstances. [When Prerana started,] we were young and educated but unsupported by state, business houses, political parties, social platforms, governments, or charities. The only factor on our side was that we wanted to protect those children and bring dignity to their life. We had to choose – on one hand our fears and objective obstacles, and on the other our commitment to those children. We made a decision. That was our moment of obligation.”
Tasintha Programme / Lusaka, Zambia
“The girls [we work with] are recruited from the streets, bars, hotels, and lodges to be reformed by the program. In light of this decision they make, there is a lot of discrimination and stigma, so it takes a lot of courage for them to go back into society with vigor and determination as they embrace change that lies ahead of them.”
Quotes have been edited for clarity and condensed.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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