DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Hilton Humanitarian Award

By Caty Weaver

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

A group that helps children in Latin America has won the world's largest humanitarian prize. Last month, Casa Alianza was awarded the one-million dollar Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. The group won for its efforts to help thousands of children without homes and parents. The group carries out its work in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Casa Alianza says there are an estimated one-hundred-million poor children living on their own around the world. It says there are twenty-five million so-called street children in Asia and ten-million in Africa. The group says there are smaller numbers of street children in Europe and North America. But Casa Alianza says Latin America has the highest number of street children -- about forty-million.

Bruce Harris is the director of Casa Alianza. Mr. Harris says society does not care about these street children. These children often are forced to steal food. But when they do they are considered criminals. Street children often are the victims of violence and sexual mistreatment.

Casa Alianza has helped to put in prison Guatemalan police officers found guilty of killing street children. The group also has helped end the jailing of children with adults in Honduras. And it has tried to stop the business of using children for sex. Casa Alianza currently is involved in more than five-hundred legal cases dealing with crimes against children.

Casa Alianza provides many other services to children. It offers shelter, food, protection, medical care and education. Casa Alianza operates crisis centers, group homes and places for children dying of AIDS. It also has a program for homeless girls and their babies. And it tries to re-unite street children with family members.

Casa Alianza was created in Nineteen-Eighty-One and is based in Costa Rica. It is connected to a well-known humanitarian aid group called Covenant House in New York City.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded the Humanitarian Prize every year since Nineteen-Ninety-Six. The award honors organizations for efforts to ease human suffering anywhere in the world. Past winners include the medical aid groups Doctors without Borders and Operation Smile.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver.

Voice of America Special English