Katie Simon


Reprinted with permission from Mercy Corps

2008 Global Action Awards Honoree

Age: 16
Hometown: Newton, Massachusetts
Project: Minga

When Katie Simon was only seven years old, her family spent nine months working with poor communities in developing countries. The deplorable conditions — grey-colored drinking water, malnourishment and crumbling schoolhouses — made a deep impression on Katie, and motivated her to become a poverty-fighting activist at a tender age.

During her freshman year of high school, Katie was troubled to learn about the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Determined to make a difference, she founded an organization called Minga to raise funds to combat this terrible blight on children. The word minga in Quechua, a native South American language, means: "the coming together of a community to work for a common good."

Katie's first effort was to recruit friends and plan a community yard sale to help build a rehabilitation center for recovering child prostitutes in the Philippines. The sale was wildly successful, raising more than $6,500, and far exceeding Katie's $5,000 goal.

After the success of the first fundraiser, Katie knew Minga could do more. To date, Minga has raised more than $35,000 for the rehabilitation center through yard sales, bake sales, craft fairs and galas.

"I had the opportunity to visit the center and see firsthand how it helps girls recovering from the horrors of forced prostitution," said Katie. "Many of the girls want to become social workers. It was a moving experience for me to hear how they want to be part of the rehabilitation of other girls who are caught in the same situation they were."

Minga has also focused on educating young Americans about this issue and inspiring them to action. Katie and other members of Minga have conducted more than 600 presentations and workshops in schools, community centers and houses of worship in the Boston area. In addition, Minga partnered with the organization OneChild to secure the airing of a public service announcement on international Air Canada and American Airlines flights.

During the summer of 2007, Katie led more than one dozen Minga members on a trip to Guatemala to learn more about the conditions of children living on the streets, and to hear their stories.

Minga has evolved from a small group of friends and classmates into a true nationwide movement. Minga groups are forming in high schools across the U.S. to raise money for the rehabilitation center. But that's not enough for Katie, whose goal is to create a global version of Minga.

Page created on 3/18/2013 1:06:15 PM

Last edited 8/6/2018 5:05:03 AM

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Related Links

UNICEF - Voices of Youth - offers all children and adolescents, including the hard-to-reach, a safe and supportive global cyberspace within which they can explore, discuss and partner on issues related to human rights and social change.
Free the Children
- The primary goals of the organization are to free children from poverty and exploitation and free young people from the notion that they are powerless to affect positive change in the world.

Author Info

MY HERO celebrates 2008 Global Action Awards Honoree Katie Simon for her passion and activism in founding Minga, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of young children around the world who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

"The Global Action Awards honor high school students who have taken outstanding actions to fight global poverty. Building a better world requires a new generation of leaders. Mercy Corps recognizes this new generation of leaders and inspires others to put their own ideas into action."