Avani and Challenging Heights win 2020 Juliette Gimon Courage Awards

Global Fund for Children recognizes two grassroots organizations boldly fighting child labor, trafficking, and slavery.

WASHINGTON, DC and LONDON, April 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Global Fund for Children announces the winners of its 2020 Juliette Gimon Courage Awards today, recognizing innovative grassroots organizations Avani in India and Challenging Heights in Ghana for work to advance children’s rights despite extreme challenges.

On opposite sides of the world, both winning organizations are led by survivors of forced child labor and modern slavery, who have dedicated their careers to protecting other young people from the same injustices.

Anuradha Bhosale, vice-chair of Avani and founder of Avani’s Children’s Projects, was forced into domestic labor herself at the age of 6. Now a recognized grassroots activist, she and Avani’s staff work fearlessly to end child exploitation in Kolhapur, India and beyond.

There are more than 10 million child laborers in India, and more than 35,000 children work in brickyards and other industries in the district of Kolhapur alone. Surrounded by dangerous working conditions and death threats from employers of child labor, Avani rescues children from Kolhapur’s brickyards and sugarcane farms and coordinates their comprehensive rehabilitation – providing them with safe shelter, food, education, and more.

“This award affirms that the plight of countless children being rescued from child labor, trafficking, and early marriage has now been brought to light,” Bhosale said.

James Kofi Annan, founder and president of Challenging Heights, was trafficked to Lake Volta when he was 6 years old, spending seven years there in modern slavery. Now an international advisor on child rights, he and the Challenging Heights team are determined to end child trafficking in Ghana.

Over 1.8 million young people are engaged in child labor in Ghana, and 20,000 of them are children trafficked into modern slavery in Lake Volta’s fishing industry. At great personal peril, Challenging Heights staff and volunteers rescue children from slavery and provide them with comprehensive rehabilitation services. The organization works extensively with families of former child slaves to ensure that they can safely and permanently reintegrate into their communities.

“For me, courage is the willingness to confront injustice for the good of our common humanity, harnessing our impacts for our continued progress,” Annan said.

Global Fund for Children gives the annual Courage Awards through the Juliette Gimon Fund for Courageous Leadership – a more than $1 million endowment made possible by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other donors – in honor of Juliette Gimon.

A former Board Chair of Global Fund for Children, Juliette passed away on February 24, 2018. Her wisdom, insights, and profound concern for children helped shape Global Fund for Children, changing hundreds of thousands of young lives across the globe.

"We're thrilled to recognize Avani and Challenging Heights for the courage they demonstrate in their work to end child trafficking and forced labor in their communities," said John Hecklinger, President and CEO of Global Fund for Children. "Their dedication honors Juliette Gimon's legacy and her work to inspire positive change for children around the world."

Avani and Challenging Heights were selected for their courageous work from among 14 award finalists that have confronted death threats, defied the Taliban to operate secret girls' schools, and helped children with disabilities climb mountains. The winners have channeled adversity into their causes, boldly pursuing justice for children worldwide.

About Global Fund for Children & Global Fund for Children UK Trust:
Global Fund for Children partners to build a world where all children and youth enjoy equal resources and opportunities in society and live free from violence, discrimination, and exploitation. To that end, GFC invests in innovative local organizations, helping them deepen their impact and build their capacity for social change. Together, GFC and its partners advance the rights of children and youth facing poverty and injustice and equip them with the tools and skills to reach their full potential. Since 1997, Global Fund for Children has invested $44 million in more than 700 organizations, reaching more than 11 million children and youth worldwide. For more information, visit www.globalfundforchildren.org.


In Kolhapur, India, Avani provides a range of programs for child laborers and children at risk of exploitation. © Scott Kafora / Avani In Ghana’s underserved coastal communities, Challenging Heights is dedicated to ending child trafficking and advancing children’s rights. © Challenging Heights