Preda Newsletter February 2012
February 24, 2012 · By Fr. Shay Cullen, Preda Staff
Read the stories of the children you are helping to save and news about the great programmes of Preda, how you can save more and do good work to make this a better, happier, and safer world for abused and exploited children. – Fr. Shay Cullen, founder.
MORE CHILDREN SAVED BY HOTLINE CONTACT. There was dancing, singing, parties, and outings last week to celebrate the birthdays of several of the children here at the Preda Home for abused girls. Little Roderick, the youngest, celebrated one and a half years old. The good news is that there is general awareness about the rights of the child and the duty of the parents and relatives to report child abuse and get help for the victims. The sad news is that there are so many children in need of help.
Thanks in part to the Preda Public Education Campaign, more children are coming forward to report being abused and ask for help. This programme educates teachers, children and parents about abuse and how to get help. It inspires action and cooperation in reporting child abuse. People now know that Preda can rescue a child from sex slavery and give her protection and therapy at the Preda Home for Girls and give legal assistance free of charge. More people are texting-in reports of child abuse and more children are being saved by the Preda Rescue team.
The girl’s home is the haven of hope and relief for a child in the abusive power of a pedophile or their own father or relative or the live-in partner of her mother. All are extremely poor, vulnerable, child victims of abuse. How can they break free? Some text-in a message to the Preda Hotline, or tell a teacher and the Preda rescue team moves within the hour, and by nightfall, that child is safe and the abuser is in the jail or is on the run. No laminations and hand wringing, no excuses or delay by anyone is allowed to stand in the way of bringing that child to safety and away from the abuser.
Also, the Preda team is rescuing children abused by sex tourists, or in brothels. This apostolate is having success too and more and more victims are being reported to Preda for help. The sex Mafia is still active and is behind the child abduction and slavery and their threats will not stop us. This makes it a more difficult job but we work with trustworthy legal authorities.
There are a total of 57 girls recovering at the Preda Home for Girls at the moment. 37 are sexually abused victims of their own fathers or relatives and 20 of them are from the sex industry; young girls exploited, abducted and made into sex slaves. They are all healing and growing and coping very well and enjoying their time in school, beach outings, picnics and retreats.
We have a full home and we are building a new girl’s home in the countryside in a beautiful place surrounded by hills and a little river flows through it. It will be called Villa Victoria, as the children are empowered and they overcome the worst experience in life. They are rescued and others flee their abusers and find victory, freedom and protection. The new home will be more spacious and in a beautiful natural location. The second floor of the two-storey building is nearly complete and the construction of the first chalet for the commercially exploited girls has started already. Hopefully this summer 2012, the first building will be opened.
The story of Anna-May. Some children have suffered sexual abuse for over a year. Others have given birth to a child by their own father. Little Roderick is one of them; he is now one and half years old and a cute happy child. His mother Anna-may, who gave birth to Roderick at 15 years-old, is doing a heroic job caring and loving him as best as she can. It’s not easy considering who the father is.
The tendency in teenage mothers is to reject the child. But not Anna-may. The other girls at the Preda Children’s Home are a big help. And we will hire a house mother to help take care of Roderick. Anna-may is back in school for over a year now. She has nowhere to go as her family rejects her and blames her. Preda social workers and psychologists rescued and helped her through this long ordeal and helped her heal and get back to school. Her father is in jail. Her sister blames Anna-May. So it is hard on her and we are trying to change the view of her sister.
Last year, a total of 85 girls were saved, helped and given protection at the Preda Center; 29 of them were admitted to the program only last year. 36 girls were enrolled in formal school, both elementary and high school, and all have done very well and were elevated to the next grade – a sign of recovery and resilience. Those rescued from the bars and the streets are not ready for formal schooling, instead, they receive non-formal education at Preda and life skills training like sewing, cooking and baking, computer lessons, soap making and card making. This enhances their self-worth and gives the encouragement for the future.
The healing process takes up to one to two years. It is accomplished by values formation seminars, recreational activities and psychological intervention where the children are helped to express their pains and trauma and helped to cope up. Last 2011, there were graduates!! 23 of these girls completed the recovery programme and were able to return to their supportive families where it is safe for them. The abuser is in jail or has an arrest warrant out for him.
The aftercare programme. Children who recovered and were returned to their families are still receiving help and scholarship through the Aftercare program while 16 clients benefited through the outreach program. Preda still provides legal assistance to these girls.
THE STORY OF ELSA AND ANN.
Sisters Elsa, 17, and Ann, 16, are among the latest arrivals at the Preda Girl’s Home. They are both victims of trafficking and child prostitution sent to the Preda Home for recovery and therapy. Sadly, the mother of the two girls was their pimp who offered the two girls for sale. Every night, the mother would bring them to a hotel and sell them to foreign and local customers for sex. She would even hurt the two girls if they refuse to be prostituted.
This started a year ago after the death of their father who used to be the provider for the family. This exploitation went on for more than a year because of their family’s impoverished condition. Luckily, Elsa found the courage to appeal for help from the local authorities and the two were rescued and sent to Preda for recovery. The mother is now in hiding after a legal case was filed against her while the other 5 children are left in the care of a responsible aunt.
How they recovered at the Girls home. The two girls were feeling depressed and were still traumatized from the abuse they suffered when they first arrived at the Preda Home. Slowly, they were able to throw off their fear and withdrawal and became more happy and playful. They feel respect, support and that they are appreciated, praised and given all the encouragement they need. It’s great to see them emerge from a dark, lonely, frightening place to the happiness of being protected and safe and can play unafraid of the threats they lived under.
Overcoming parent’s criticism and scolding. They are all brave girls and they are constantly affirmed as good children. This is to undo the negative put-down from the parents as “no good children that will amount to nothing”. They are encouraged to find justice and freedom from that fear of the abuser’s threats. They know that they can save other children, especially their younger sisters if they help put the child rapist behind bars, even if he was their father. Now, they enjoy the activities with the other children who had similar experiences as them. Both Elsa and Ann are determined to continue their life and their studies.
HOME FOR BOYS PROJECT REPORT.
Last 2011, a total of 75 boys were taken out of prison, rescued from dehumanizing conditions of Metro Manila jails through the effort of the Preda Jail Rescue team. They were transferred to the therapeutic recovery community of Preda Boy’s Home and helped to start a better, more dignified life. 16 more were brought by social workers and police and were referred under the restorative justice programme as provided by law.
Some of these boys are still continuing the training program at the Preda New Dawn Center while many were successfully sent back to their families after they have successfully completed the program and their legal cases were dismissed. Through the fast legal action and lobbying effort of the Preda legal team, many are assisted in the complicated justice system.
Apart from the freedom and new life at the New Dawn Center, Preda also provides these boys with education and livelihood skills. 18 boys who were ready and eligible were enrolled last year in formal schooling through the open high school special education program while the rest received non-formal education held at Preda. Another 9 boys completed welding training and 2 boys were trained for driving and obtained a professional license.
The Preda new Dawn Home for Boys had a 90% retention rate last year, meaning that these boys did not escape or run away, they remained at Preda of their own choice. This is the direct positive first step in their recovery. They feel freedom, hope and respect. They feel a new sense of self-worth and dignity. This is a significantly high percentage in a home without fences, walls, gates or guards. It is the opposite of prison.
The Boys Home is a unique open center facility – no guards, no gates, no punishment. It is a unique center for troubled youth in the country. So this open home proves once and for all that 90% of children in conflict with the law (CICLs) want a chance to start over their life again. It proves that so-called “delinquent” youth, teenagers and children, when treated with respect, decency, love, and affirmation will respond positively to an uplifting restorative program.
There should be no room for violence and punishment. Young people need understanding and care, not strict discipline, angry scolding, and insulting “put down” attitude. They need an atmosphere of family and friendship. Reality therapy and truth telling, family courts and meeting, reconciliation and emotional expression therapy makes room for a violence-free, livable and happy community. Add in education, skills training, gardening, sports, outings and paid work experience, and it can be a success very well. This can be replicated everywhere with well-trained staff and the right location, environment, right training, inspiring ideals and funding.
THE STORY OF GILBERT. Gilbert is among the latest additions to the Preda Home for Boys’ family. He was 15 years old when he got arrested by police who found a small sachet of marijuana in his pocket. In the Philippines, it’s a crime with a very stiff penalty, too harsh, even children are not exempted. For him it was his only escape for the pain and poverty of being a nobody, with nothing in this world and only a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.
He suffered in a youth prison for 3 years without any help with his legal case. He experienced the horrific realities in life. He had only 3 court hearings and his case was transferred from one court to another. The rest of his time was spent counting his days in prison, no family visits, no sunlight, exercise, games, education, proper food, medical or dental care. – total denial of children’s human rights. Some are driven to the point of despair or insanity. Others are sexually abused by the guards or other adult prisoners. Some have to give in and become lady-boys just to get food to survive and not to be beaten up if they refuse. They are ashamed and carry the secret with them forever.
Gilbert’s misery ended when Preda got him out. Shiela and Joan, Preda social workers learned of his plight and immediately worked on Gilbert’s behalf to have him transferred to the Preda Home for Boys. Any delay and he might have been sent to an adult prison where he would stay for 7 years or more. Thanks to a compassionate judge and armed with a court order, Gilbert’s suffering ended and he was escorted out of the jail gates hardly believing it to be happening. He had no possessions. He climbed into the Preda vehicle, donated by the Columban Fathers and drove to a restaurant for his first decent meal in years. He could not eat it all; his stomach had contracted so much from the near starvation of the prison. But after a few weeks at Preda, he made up for all the lost food.
A family found in a push cart. After the meal, Shiela and Joan took him to look for his family. They lived in a push cart along the road. Three smaller brothers and an emaciated sickly father and mother who earned by selling boiled peanuts to motorists for a living. Their only goal in life was to eat once a day. They were given some money by Shiela and the Preda team then drove 3 hours out of the city and brought Gilbert to his new home at the Preda New Dawn Center in a beautiful countryside setting. Gilbert is starting a new life. The Preda paralegal staff are now working on his case.
When asked what was his first thought when he was informed that he will be taken to Preda, he answered “I never thought this would happen, I thought I’m going to die inside that prison, thank God I was helped”. Gilbert is now able to enjoy life free from pain and suffering and a bright, dignified future. He is learning welding and doing great. Another life saved.
THE PREVENTIVE EDUCATION AND PUBLIC SPEAKING PROGRAM. Prevention is better than cure. At the Preda Foundation, we do both, and the preventive education team conducted many children’s rights seminars for more than 20,000 students, teachers and parents. This continues five days a week. They use multimedia presentations, puppet shows, and theater for fun learning. The children themselves were empowered and they themselves report the abuse to the Preda team after the seminars. Through this outreach education programs, child victims even in far away villages were reached out and given assistance.
SUCCESS OF THE PREDA HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION PROGRAM. More than 11,000 community leaders, stakeholders, and local people were reached by the Preda human rights team funded by Irish Aid in their campaign to educate people on human rights especially women and children’s rights. These seminars and workshops were done in 121 communities and 110 schools for the year 2011. Apart from that, they were able to organize and participate in several public demonstrations to raise awareness on these very important human rights issues. Through this education program and awareness building, many child abuse victims were rescued and helped.
VISIT OF THE GERMAN OPERA SINGER RENEE KNAPP. A professional opera singer, Renee Knapp, visited Preda recently and stayed for a couple of days to spend time with the Preda children. She took a time off her busy schedule in the Philippines to visit Preda and learn more about the projects for sexually abused girls and rescue of children in prison. Before she left, she staged a simple concert and inspired the children with her beautiful golden voice which the children enjoyed very much. This March, a team from a popular TV show Tatort in Germany is set to visit Preda for an exposure trip with the Mayor of Cologne and her daughter.
FR. SHAY INTERVIEWED BY GAY BYRNE IN THE RTE “MEANING OF LIFE” PROGRAM. RTE Ireland recently broadcast its Meaning of Life program with Fr. Shay Cullen who talked about his life and work in the Philippines. Fr. Shay stirred up the interview with his controversial remarks on topics like celibacy in the church, faith, and existence of God. In the end, what’s important according to him is the true meaning of faith by putting it into action as shown in the examples of Jesus of Nazareth which is a life of sacrifice, dedication, and service for people in difficult circumstances. (watch the interview: http://www.rte.ie/tv/meaningoflife/player.html)
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS There are presently 10 overseas volunteers and interns at Preda having a wonderful life experience and helping out with the programmes and projects. Several groups of young people from Germany, Australia and Korea have visited Preda in the past months to learn more about the work of Preda and get an actual look of the social problems in a third world country. These young people are oriented on the Preda program and immersed in a life changing experience to understand the situation and hopefully to inspire others when they get back to their own country.
The Columban Father Michael O’Riordan from Korea came to visit and brought 26 students and community leaders. The Marists from Australia came with a group and so did the St. Andrew’s Resource Center, Pearse St., Dublin were here last 2011. From Spain came the Setem group and from Japan the Free the Children supporters. All shared in the happy active life of friendship and sporting events at Preda. They worked in the organic farm, helped the mango harvest, went to the river and climbed the volcano or mountains and slept in the native village of the indigenous people and had many more adventures. Students, interns, volunteers and any interested people are welcome to visit and learn more about the Preda project. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More on www.preda.org, and www.predafairtrade.net
Fr. Shay Cullen and the PREDA Team.
At the final judgment of our lives well lived,
Jesus will ask what we did for him, after all he did for us.
He said “When I was in prison you came to visit me”
…”when Lord?”, we will ask…
“What ever you did to the least of these, the poorest of all …you did to me”.
Let us try to see the real presence of Jesus in the victims of injustice and abuse.
Let us challenge all who cover up abuse and let us free the children from power of the abusers and give them freedom, care, education and happiness. – Fr. Shay
DONATE today to either of the following:
- Preda Children, c/o Fr.Shay Cullen, St.. Columban’s, Dalgan park, Navan, Ireland
- Columban Fathers 1902 Calhoun St. NE. 68005, USA.
- St. Columban’s, Widney Manor Road, Knowle, Solihull B93 9AB UK.
- Preda Home for Children, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City 2200. Philippines.