2014 HUMANITARIAN AWARD
Kolibri Children at Risk Foundation
São Paulo, Brazil
In 1992, Gregory John Smith gave up his comfortable life in Norway to help street children in Brazil. After selling all of his possessions to start the Kolibri Children At Risk Foundation, Gregory moved to Brazil and began living on the streets of São Paulo to better understand the desperate situations of the children who live there. After this experience, Gregory came to the conclusion that simply rescuing and rehabilitating street children does not deal with the core issue: preventing children from ending up on the street in the first place.
The Brazilian government estimates that nearly 24,000 children work or sleep on the streets. Often, these children face violence, abuse, crime, drug addition and an extreme lack of educational opportunities. During his first months on the streets, Gregory was constantly witness to the many tragic events and sad consequences that living on the streets had on children’s lives. However, he also saw that it was not a simple matter to keep them from living there; children often returned to the streets after being given a place to stay.
Gregory’s unique program, Rede Cultural Beija-Flor, part of the Kolibri Children At Risk Foundation, not only enables street children to take control of their own lives, but takes preventative action by giving children positive ways to survive and thrive in their community. His program provides quality educational opportunities for children of all ages, engaging their interests in arts, entrepreneurship, culture and sports. Gregory’s goal is to ensure the unique skills and talents of every young person have the special attention and educational resources needed to grow.