The inaugural $75,000 Ockenden International Prize was presented at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, England, on Tuesday evening, February 19, 2013.

The inaugural $75,000 Ockenden International Prize was won by India’s Centre for Development (CfD) partnering with UK charity Childreach International for their Piplaj Advocacy Project to empower a deeply impoverished community in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a successful campaign for better living conditions, education and healthcare.

Three finalists competing for the prestigious Ockenden International Prize presented their projects to a panel of expert judges led by broadcaster Michael Buerk, on February 19 at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, where the charity’s founder the late Joyce Pearce OBE began her career of service to refugees and displaced people worldwide.

The judges were looking in particular for evidence of increased self-reliance in the communities supported as this is the central ethos of the Prize which recognises and rewards work that has improved the lives of refugees and displaced people in Africa, the Middle East or Asia.

During a round table discussion moderated by Michael Buerk, CfD Programme Consultant Prasad Chacko explained how the project had overcome obstructions faced by citizens living in extremely difficult conditions and helped communities oppressed for centuries to take responsibility. He summed up the project’s impact by saying it had “put the smiles back on the faces of the children”.

Trophies and a cheque for £50,000 were presented to the winners by Ockenden International’s longest serving trustee Stephen Cooke.

CfD plan to use the prize money to replicate their achievements in other slums in Ahmedabad, as well as to track vulnerable child beggars and labourers and record information in a database to strengthen further advocacy efforts. They will also use it to continue their education and life skills training for the most vulnerable children.