US-based, Zimbabwean teenage philanthropist Makanaka Chikowero was recently nominated for the prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize award, an equivalent of the Noble Peace Prize.
The Prize is awarded annually to a child who has made a significant contribution to advocating children’s rights and improving the situation of vulnerable children such as orphans, child labourers, and children with HIV/AIDS.
The 15-year-old has been on a campaign to end child marriages in Manicaland province through her non-profit making organization, MTC Educate A Girl Inc.
The organisation provides mostly orphaned girls in rural Zimbabwe with the opportunity to continue their education. They are presented with tuition, uniforms, supplies, sanitary products etc.
Speaking from her base in Madison, USA, she told 263Chat that the award cements the efforts she has been putting in ensuring that all young girls have equal opportunities.
“The award is a great milestone for me and the girls. I still haven’t fully realized it (the importance of the award). Its just an amazing honour to be nominated alone,” she said.
Insert: Makanaka Chikowero speaks to 263Chat’s Lovejoy Mutongwiza about her nomination.
142 children from 42 countries were nominated for the award which was won by renowned Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg and Divina Maloum from Cameroon.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Makanaka has donated thousands of face masks to various schools in the province to help children who have since started going back to see, keep safe.
To raise money to start the MTC scholarship program, Maka’s non-profit organized a community soccer fundraiser featuring girls and co-ed teams 2019.
MTC Educate A Girl expanded by initiating a community-based girls and women soccer club (MTC Sirens FC). She is also the founding member or Rozaria Girls Club USA (a club which fosters the spirit of volunteerism and feminism with young adolescents living in Madison).
Maka and Rozaria Girls Club USA have also been routinely fundraising and donating stationery and sports kits to their sister clubs in Murewa Zimbabwe.
The trust holds a bi-annual soccer tournament which brings together over 400 young women and girls. In the future, Maka wants to expand the reach and impact of MTC’s scholarship and girls soccer programs.
Maka says she draws inspirations from Dr Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, who is the Africa Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriages.
At the end of October, the three finalists will be announced by our patron and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu.
On November 13th, the final winner or winners of 2020 will receive the International Children’s Peace Prize with the world as their witness. The ceremony will be available online worldwide.