Abubacar Sultan

Sultan was just 24 years old when he began his work on behalf of children in his homeland of Mozambique. He was a teacher at the start of the brutal civil war in Mozambique (1985-1992) which left 2 million children dead, 250,000 displaced, 200,000 orphaned, and numerous others drafted into the fighting as child soldiers. Unable to look away, he left his profession to travel the country under dangerous and harsh conditions to rescue these children of war—kids, ages 6 to 13, who had been forced to witness and participate in the worst of humanity.

In 1988, Sultan started the Children and War Project, aimed at rescuing thousands of these traumatized youths. As part of this effort, he trained over 500 people in community-based therapy centers, teaching them how to remove child soldiers from the front, provide them with psychological support, and then return them to their homes. The project ultimately reunited 4,000 children with their families.

After the war, Sultan developed an innovative children’s rights initiative called Wona Sanana, the first attempt in Mozambique to gather postwar information regarding the health and social conditions of children. Through Wona Sanana, Sultan has continued his laser focus on the rights, and the very lives, of children, particularly those being raised in war-torn regions. Although his projects have been locally implemented, the impact has been felt internationally—lessons, experiences, and knowledge have been shared with partner organizations in several countries around the world.

Abubacar Sultan has worked with UNICEF in Angola and continues to support UNICEF’s child protection programs and its focus on bringing hope to children who have survived war and famine. In 2001, he received the World of Children Humanitarian Award in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of others.