End Violence Champions

Across the world, countless individuals are working around the clock to end violence against children, including children themselves. These inspiring people are the heart and soul of our movement, often working on the frontlines with limited resources.

As part of the Together to #ENDviolence global campaign, we are celebrating these individuals and the change they are helping to create. Through Q&A-style interviews, you will learn from practitioners, activists, researchers, policymakers, and children about their successes, their challenges, and what they think is needed to end violence for good.

Dr Tush Wickramanayaka

Dr Tush

 

Paving the way for safer schools in Sri Lanka

For years, Dr Tush Wickramanayaka has been a passionate advocate for children’s safety. As a child, she experienced violence within her own classrooms – but only realized the devastating impact of these cultural norms when those experiences were mirrored by her 11-year-old daughter.

After 26 years as a general physician, Dr Wickramanayaka decided to take on a new challenge. She brought the abuse of her daughter to the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, and eventually, the United Nations Human Rights Commission. At the same time, she launched a national campaign to turn the tide on corporal punishment in Sri Lanka: the Stop Child Cruelty Trust.

In the years since, the Trust has grown the movement against corporal punishment across Sri Lanka, engaging not just teachers, parents and government members, but children and young people themselves.

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BRISA DE ANGULO

 

A survivor and activist changing Bolivia's response to child sexual abuse

As a child, Brisa De Angulo had big dreams. Her life revolved around doing what she could for her community – but when she was sexually abused at age 15, everything changed. After months of rape, sexual abuse and emotional trauma, De Angulo thought her life was coming to an end. Luckily for the children of Bolivia, however, she received the support she needed to overcome her challenges. Today, she runs Bolivia’s first-ever centre for child survivors of sexual abuse.

De Angulo opened the doors of A Breeze of Hope when she was just 17, and ever since, has helped more than 2,000 children access free legal, social and psychological support after experiencing sexual abuse, along with 8,000 of their non-offending family members. A Breeze of Hope has also changed the country’s response to prosecuting aggressors of child sexual abuse, securing a 95 per cent conviction rate with the clients they bring to court. As our latest End Violence Champion, De Angulo shares her experiences with sexual abuse, strength and survival, and urges others to join her in the fight against child abuse across the world.

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Brisa in a circle.

Sanjeeva De Mel

Sanjeeva with children.

 

The first school-based social worker in Sri Lanka

When Sanjeeva de Mel began studying social work, he tried something uncommon in Sri Lanka at that time: working in schools. By the age of 27, he had become the first school-based social worker in the country – and in the decades since, de Mel has left a lasting positive mark on communities, caregivers and children throughout Sri Lanka.

From supporting child sexual abuse cases as a social work student to founding SERVE, a Sri Lankan non-profit organization, de Mel has worked to embed social work and its practices programmes for children, with a particular focus on girls and the most vulnerable. While leading SERVE, de Mel also became the Country Representative of a United Kingdom-based non-profit called Hope for Children. As the fourth End Violence Champion, de Mel shared his experiences in the social work and non-profit field, and explored how to truly end violence against children – once and for all.

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AYSHA HAMMAN

A legal champion for children in Nigeria

At the age of 14, Aysha Hamman’s future hung on the precipice of change: if all went according to plan, she would get married instead of continuing her education. Luckily for Hamman, however, her mother refused to let her opportunities be cut short. Having been a child bride herself, Hamman’s mother knew the power of education – and that if given the chance, girls could go on to change the world.

In the years since, Hamman has done exactly that. First as a lawyer within the Nigerian Ministry of Justice, now as the founder of her own non-profit organization, Hamman has helped countless young girls northern Nigeria continue their education, using her legal skills to secure justice for those experiencing sexual assault, gender-based violence and child marriage. As our latest End Violence Champion, Hamman shared her experiences growing up in northeastern Nigeria – and how her background in law has helped her protect girls across the region.

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Aysha with children.

KAMALA POUDEL

Kamala Poudel

A survivor turned activist in Nepal

At the age of 5, Kamala Poudel lost her childhood. Sold to a trafficking ring by her stepfather, Poudel was forced from her home in Nepal to a brothel in India, joining the 50 other girls and women that are trafficked from Nepal to India every day.

Eventually, Poudel escaped from the brothel and slowly made her way back to Nepal. The journey home wasn’t easy: before she even hit her teenage years, Poudel had to work on the streets – nearly always in exploitative conditions – to get enough food to survive. Her difficult childhood, coupled with years of homelessness, sexual abuse and a 10-year prison sentence, left Poudel with severe mental health issues.

It wasn’t until meeting staff from KOSHISH, a Nepalese non-profit, that Poudel got the support she needed to recover and rebuild. About a year after accessing psychological and medical treatment through KOSHISH, Poudel began working for the organisation herself – and today, she is helping both children and adults through her role as a Program Officer.

End Violence spoke to Poudel about her experiences of abuse and recovery, along with the issues children face in Nepal today. 

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SARAFINA

An activist and World Vision Youth Leader from Ghana

For years, Sarafina has fought to end violence against women and children in Ghana. Sarafina has been witness to violence throughout her life: first, when her mother suffered domestic abuse in her home, and later, when child marriage forced her friends from the classroom.

To combat these realities faced by countless women and girls, Sarafina became a World Vision Young Leader and a member of her school’s child parliament. In both roles, she has become an outspoken activist against child marriage, violence against women, and other forms of abuse and exploitation. In the future, Sarafina hopes to continue this work for life, inspiring others and bringing real, sustainable change across Ghana. She hopes to become both a medical doctor and a lawyer – combatting violence against women and girls from both the individual and national levels.

End Violence spoke to Sarafina about her experiences as a youth activist and her hopes for women and girls in her community. 

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Sarafina

Alice Welbourn

Alice Welbourn

Creator of the Stepping Stones training package

Since its publication in 1995, the Stepping Stones training package has touched children, families and communities in over 100 countries across the globe. The woman at the heart of Stepping Stones is Dr Alice Welbourn, who wrote the training package two years after her own HIV diagnosis. Throughout her career, Welbourn had designed and implemented participatory programmes in communities across East and sub-Saharan Africa – and to help make sense of her own diagnosis, Welbourn decided to do what she does best: create a training package to help others just like her.

In the years since, Welbourn and her team have gone on a journey nearly as expansive as the reach of Stepping Stones itself. The package has been translated into dozens of languages. It has more recently been adapted to fit the priorities of children, particularly among those aged 5-14 years of age. And in 2016 the original version was wholly revised and updated to align it with the huge scientific advances that have taken place since the original publication. Importantly, Stepping Stones has taken on a life of its own through those that implement it – sparking adaptations that are sometimes met with success, and other times met with failure that brings important learnings.

End Violence spoke with Welbourn to learn about what she has experienced after more than 25 years on the Stepping Stones frontlines.

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Shaylyn Fahey

A 23-year-old medical student from the United States

On December 14, 2012, a small American town was rocked by a nearly unimaginable crime: a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 20 first-graders, six adults, and his mother before shooting himself.

Shaylyn Fahey was just 15 years old at the time – and eight years later, she is still trying to make sense of what her community was forced to live through. Instead of backing away, however, Shay threw herself even deeper into what she had experienced, leveraging her interests in neuroscience, psychology and health care to better understand the root causes of violence.

Part of this work was with the Avielle Foundation, an organisation established by Jen and Jeremy Richman after their daughter, 6-year-old Avielle, was killed in the shooting. In the years since, Shay has not only grappled with trauma from the 2012 massacre, but from the loss of Jeremy himself, who took his own life in March of 2019.

End Violence spoke to Shay, now 23, about her experiences living through these tragedies, her passion for violence prevention, and her plans for the future.

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Shay at her lab at Yale University.

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