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WANGO Awards Celebrated in Spain

The 2006 WANGO Awards were presented and celebrated on Saturday, April 21, 2007, during the First World Congress on Early Childhood Education for Peace, at the Cultural Hall of the CCM, Albacete, Spain. Five NGOs were recognized by WANGO for their efforts in the areas of Environment, Human Rights, Peace & Security, Education, and Civil Society Development.

Excmo. Sr. D. Manuel Pérez Castell, The Mayor of Albacete, warmly welcomed the guests to the city of Albacete, and congratulated the NGOs on the recognition of their excellence and leadership in the civil society sector; he stayed to enjoy the evening’s program. Mr. Juan Sanchez Muliterno, President of The World Association of Early Childhood Educator, the conference organizers who graciously hosted the reception and Awards night for WANGO, also gave his cordial greetings to the award recipients and evening guests.

Dr. Noel Brown, President of Friends of the United Nations and Chair of the WANGO Awards Committee, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the program. Prior to the actual presentation of the award to the recipient, a short DVD clip of the activities of each NGO was shown.

WANGO Environment Award

The first to be honored was the recipient of the WANGO Environment Award, Altai Foundation of Russia, a non-profit organization devoted to protecting the natural and cultural heritage of the Altai Mountains, and to supporting initiatives that sustain, enhance, or expand Russia’s network of nature reserves or “zapovedniks.” Altai is a region of Siberia located at the center of Central Asia, and at juncture of Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. “The Golden Mountains of Altai” is a World Heritage Site, designated by UNESCO as a place of such outstanding value to humanity that it belongs to all the peoples of the world, particularly because the region represents an important and original center of biodiversity of mountain plant and animal species, with one of the rarest of these being the mystical snow leopard.

The Altai Foundation works in promoting a more respectful attitude toward the natural environment and has developed professional partnerships and cooperation in the field of wildlife management with Russian and international organizations. Founded by Slava Trigubovich, an anti-poaching zapovednik ranger and conservation biologist who had previously headed the Siberian Interregional Center Zapovedniki (SICZ), and Vladislav Shilo, the internationally renowned Director of the Novosibirsk Zoo, their vision was to create an organization that contributes in concrete ways to greater balance between people and nature.

Current President of the Altai Foundation Slava Trigubovich accepted the WANGO Environment Award on behalf of his NGO. Commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, Trigubovich led field expeditions in 1999 and 2000 to identify the most important snow leopard breeding areas in Russia's Altai Mountains. Their discovery that the principal breeding grounds are in an unprotected corridor led to a campaign to establish a new protected area, Sailugemskiy, for snow leopard protection.

In taking the decision to present the Altai Foundation with the 2006 Environment Award, the WANGO Awards Committee and the WANGO International Council were most impressed with the pioneering effort to protect the nature reserves of the Altai Republic and promote a more balanced ecological approach. Through recognizing such effort, greater international awareness can be made of the Altai region and the exceptional work of Altai Foundation.

WANGO Human Rights Award

The WANGO Human Rights Award was presented to Free The Children of Canada, the largest network in the world of children helping children through education. Unlike any other children's charity, Free The Children is both funded and driven by children and youth. Through this unique youth-driven approach, more than one million young people have been involved in its innovative programs in more than 45 countries.

Founded in 1995 by international child rights activist Craig Kielburger at the age of 12 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labor, the mission of Free The Children is to free young people from the idea that they are powerless to bring about positive social change, and encourage them to act now to improve the lives of young people everywhere. Among its many accomplishments, Free The Children has built more than 400 primary schools, providing daily education to over 35,000 children, has delivered 200,000 school and health kits to students around the world, has shipped $9 million dollars in essential medical supplies to 40 countries, provided healthcare centers and community funding helping more than 500,000 people, and provided access to clean water and improved sanitation for 125,000 people. In addition, Free The Children has also lobbied corporations to adopt standard labeling for child-labor free products, worked with the Canadian government to pass a law to prosecute Canadians who travel overseas to sexually exploit children, and has successfully worked with the Brazilian government to allocate an additional $1 million for programs to help support child laborers.

Craig Kielburger, founder of Free The Children, and the co-founder of Leaders Today, the world’s top youth leadership training organization, was present to accept the WANGO Human Rights Award. Free The Children has earned three Nobel Peace Prize nominations, and was selected as the lead non-governmental organization (NGO) partner by the United Nations Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Free The Children has been featured on CNN, 60 minutes, Good Morning America, the Oprah Winfrey show, the Today Show, and many other prominent TV shows.

In taking the decision to present Free The Children with the 2006 Human Rights Award, the WANGO Awards Committee and the WANGO International Council were most impressive with Free The Children’s innovative method of making a world more fit for children by creating a network of children and youth to address societal challenges. Free The Children has been pioneering a new path toward dealing with child abuse and exploitation, and providing educational opportunity and medical assistance.

WANGO Peace & Security Award

Paz y Cooperación was recognized with the WANGO Peace & Security Award. Founded in 1982, Paz y Cooperación focuses particularly on key areas of disarmament, development, human rights, solidarity actions, and global peace education.

Working under the motto of “create and survive,” Paz y Cooperación has been tirelessly promoting universal education directed at the most vulnerable sectors, strengthening development of local and national agricultural economies, reinforcing local production and local business networks, and improving health and medical services (including efforts against malaria, AIDS and other diseases). It likewise has been helping marginalized populations have access to decent housing, promoting gender equality, and advancing food safety projects. Its worldwide School Award initiative recognizes students, teachers, and schools that work towards the ideals of peace, multicultural relations and diversity. Paz y Cooperación has been particularly active in Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and the indigenous communities in Mexico.

Mr. Joaquín Antuña, known in Spain as a pioneer in development and education for peace, founded Paz y Cooperación, and the current President of Paz y Cooperación, received the WANGO Peace & Security Award.

In taking the decision to present Paz y Cooperación with the 2006 Peace & Security Award, the WANGO Awards Committee and the WANGO International Council were most impressed with the quarter-century of innovative service of Paz y Cooperación to tackle fundamental issues related to peace. Paz y Cooperación’s work touches on all of the Millennium Development Goals, dealing with the causes of violence in an effort to build a peaceful planet.

WANGO Education Award

The recipient of the WANGO Education Awards was South Society for Special Education, the only NGO in Jordan that provides integrated services addressing the welfare and rehabilitation of those with different kinds of disabilities.

The South Society for Special Education is headquartered in the Governorate of Ma’an, the largest governorate in the Kingdom, located approximately 200 kilometers south of Amman and famous worldwide for the Rose Red City of Petra. Ma’an and other southern governorates had suffered for a long time without services for those with disabilities related to hearing, sight, motor, and mental retardation. The Society, founded in 1986, conducts a wide range of community based rehabilitation programs, training course, workshops, medical seminars, and lectures on subjects related to causes and management of impairments, and provides job opportunities for those with special needs. Known for its sound management and partnerships with various foreign organizations, the Society is now developing mobile clinic to reach local communities, with modern equipment and doctors specialized in mother and child care, various impairments, and family counseling.

In taking the decision to present the South Society for Special Education with the 2006 Education Award, the WANGO Awards Committee and the WANGO International Council was particularly impressed with the commitment and passion of the Society to address this critical unmet need. For years, children with special needs in the south of Jordan lacked services that could greatly assist them on their life course. The Society has not only tackled this problem, but has done it in a very substantial way, reaching beyond Ma’aa to other southern governorates, expanding its services, involving foreign partners.

Mr. Matar Abu Rcgeyeh, Chairman of the South Society for Special Education, accepted the WANGO Education Award on behalf of the Society.

WANGO Civil Society Development Award

The WANGO Civil Society Development Award was presented to Ashoka, a global organization that searches the world for social entrepreneurs – extraordinary individuals with unprecedented ideas for change in their communities. Ashoka, whose mission is to shape a citizen sector that is entrepreneurial, productive and globally integrated, and to develop the profession of social entrepreneurship around the world, identifies and invests in these social entrepreneurs, generally when no one else will -- supporting the individual, idea and institution through all phases of their career.

Founded by Bill Drayton in 1980, Ashoka now operates in 46 countries across Asia, Africa, the Americas and Central Europe. Ashoka's vision is that of a global society that is able to respond quickly and effectively to social challenges everywhere, and works somewhat like a venture capital firm. The returns it seeks are not in profits, but in advances in education, environmental protection, rural development, poverty alleviation, human rights, healthcare, care for the disabled, care for children at risk, and other fields. It began with a budget of less than $50,000, but is now has 120 staff members and spends more than 7 million dollars a year financing its Fellows around the world. Business entrepreneurs and their foundations, corporations, individuals and volunteer chapters finance Ashoka's work.

Ashoka has invested in more than 1,500 Ashoka Fellows in 53 countries. Those Fellows have transformed the lives of millions of people in thousands of communities worldwide. Ashoka Fellows work in the 6 broad fields of Learning/Education, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Civic Participation, and Economic Development.

Dr. Iman Bibar, Regional Director of the Middle East/North Africa division of Ashoka, a regional expert with more than 22 years experience in the social sector of the Arab World and the Africa region, accepted the WANGO Civil Society Development Award on behalf of Ashoka.

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