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PREDA NEWSLETTER Christmas 1997

December 2, 1997 · 

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Dear Friends,

Christmas is the time when our faith and hope is renewed with the celebration of the birthday of Jesus. He was born in a cave with the animals, that is, among the blameless – lucky creatures.

God chose that his Son and Messiah be one of the poor, and through them, be with us. The salvation that Jesus promised was to save the oppressed and the weak from the tyranny and the mighty. His mother said that it was to put down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly, it was to fill the hungry with good things and to send the rich away empty. (St. Luke, Magnificat). That is; Those who refuse to accept Jesus and save themselves from the influence of evil.

This truth, that whatever we do to the poor, we do to Jesus, turned the world of his time on it’s head. Even today Christmas is hardly seen as the celebration of God’s intervention on behalf of the downtrodden, the hungry and the captives. In this way his example challenges us to focus on the unjust world that keeps two-thirds of all human kind in abysmal poverty, hunger and despised by many of the rest of mankind who do little by the way of justice.

Even as a child Jesus was deprived, threatened, pursued and had to flee into exile while hundreds of innocent children were slaughtered by King Herod.

We can’t miss seeing the parallel in the cruelties of the modern day Herods who rule over nations of exploited women and children. So when I see the Christmas nativity I remember them.

When I see so much abuse and suffering in the world I look to the goodness and the love which Jesus had for the poor, the kids and outcasts. They were his friends for them he came especially, and who could be more poor than the street children, child laborers and sexually exploited children.

A six year old child works sorting fly infested garbage from a fast food restaurant in Metro Manila 1997.

No other species does this to their off-spring – only human kind.

What shame!

When I reflect on God’s love and compassion I feel strengthened and renewed in spirit. For I know that we are all challenged to be like Him, and care for those in need, resist the allurement of a materialistic world that commercializes his birthday and forgets that he came to show us the joy of loving others for themselves and living a life of sacrifice and service.

“I came to serve and not to be served,” he said.

These past few months have been filled with challenge for us here. So I want to tell you about them.

Drama, Dancing, Puppetry

These past three months the children at PREDA, after school hours, have attended special training sessions with a theater training group and a puppetry training seminar. They now perform at schools, seminars and concerts.

The presentations teach children’s rights, child abuse and AIDS Prevention.

They preformed at a regional children’s conference and at an open air rally for children. The PREDA children also presented a number of traditional dances, dressed in simple but beautiful costumes.

It was a really great day .You can be sure we are all very proud of them.
A Filipino-American child under the PREDA Scholarship and Human Development program learns puppetry and uses it to teach children’s rights and the dangers of the AIDS epidemic.

High Grades

The children who are attending High School are making strong recovery and getting very high marks and grades in school.

One of the children, sexually exploited in prostitution, now heads her class and will be an honor student at graduation next year.

New Children at PREDA

Two small children aged ten and eight were referred to PREDA Center from the Manila General Hospital where they have a special child trauma unit that examines abused children.

They have nowhere to send them in Manila for protection from their abusers so we are now accepting them. These latest arrivals have been victims of multiple sexual abuse.

It is really shocking to learn about it. They are full of anger and hostility at the world for what they endured and have a harsh and angry demeanor at times. Now they cling to the house parents and social workers to get the comfort and affection they so desperately need.

I am glad that we have a place for children like this. And for all those who sent a donation this past year, I thank you for them.

Craig Kilberger Visits

Since I last wrote to you the young Canadian Boy, Craig Kilberger was here with a TV team for Canadian Television.

Craig is 14 years old and has started FREE THE CHILDREN, a Canadian lobby group composed of children from 8 to 16. PREDA held a conference with children in the PREDA Outreach program, CHILDREN EMPOWERED, together we work to promote the rights of children and lobby governments to continue to work for the rights of children and to end child labor.

During his recent visit to PREDA, young Canadian campaigner Craig Kilberger learns basket weaving skills from a new buddy.

Immunity Campaign

A campaign to stop the granting of access for US Military to Philippine ports with and immunity from prosecution in the Philippines for crimes they might commit is on-going.

Fighting Child Labor

PREDA began working for children and youth in in 1974. While much progress has been made, new laws, greater public awareness, more convictions of abusers, there is much more to be done.

PREDA is active in helping to organize the GLOBAL MARCH against Child Labor which starts in Manila 13th January.

Image of Child Labor At Garbage Dump(21K)
Just another effort to make life easier for millions of little children enslaved as workers from as young as 5.

Child prostitution is the most evil kind of child labor.

Public Advocacy

The public education project continuously conducts seminars in schools and communities on children’s rights, AIDS and drug abuse. It has reached almost three thousand students this year.

The PREDA Public speakers have organized teach-ins, photo exhibitions on military bases, and other activities to develop awareness and protection for children. They have a young volunteer group that helps in public speaking and can present puppet shows like the Preda children do.

A PREDA staffer has been to Japan on a lecture tour of universities and a youth volunteer is presently in Europe, a guest of ECPAT Belgium working on public awareness and networking with other youth groups.

Spanish ,Japanese and many other youth groups have visited PREDA this year for seminars, exposure as well as many Filipino University and high school students.

Martin Sheen Visits

Last November a friend and supporter of PREDA, Hollywood Actor Martin Sheen, came to the Philippines as part of an international fact finding team to the fight against World Poverty.

In 1993 he visited PREDA and tried to come again this time but his flight was delayed. So PREDA staff went to meet him in Manila and with the team visited the huge garbage dump where hundreds of children and their parents work in the filth of the garbage.


Actor Martin Sheen and Father Shay Cullen visit the huge garbage dump of Metro Manila in November 1997 as part of an international fact finding mission into urban poverty. PREDA assists church projects in the area.

Martin is a very committed and active Christian on behalf of the poor.

More Pimps Arrested

The PREDA Legal Department was able to have two pimps and a Japanese, all male, arrested after a successful undercover operation in Manila during which the suspects were secretly videotaped offering children for sexual exploitation in return for payment.

The two children were rescued and taken to a rehabilitation center.

The Japanese was released for lack of evidence and the two Filipino pimps were recommended to stand trial. They could get up to eight years in jail.

Another Japanese who abused 6 minors in 1991 but escaped and was captured two years ago while abusing other children was charged by PREDA.

He is still detained after two years of court battles. His case will be decided next year. Several other similar cases are still awaiting the court’s decision which can take up to three months after the trial.

Three other notorious child abusers charged by PREDA but in hiding while PREDA cared for their victims have been arrested during the past three months.

The Prevention Projects of PREDA are directed not only at public education but livelihood projects for poor crafts people, villagers and poor farmers by our Fair Trade Department.

Handicraft and dried fruit projects are helping the poor stay together as families in their small farms and send their children to school. Migration to the slums (and exposing children to abuse and prostitution) is the result of rural poverty.

The PREDA Fair Trade Department has been very active in helping hundreds of families.

To promote their products and organize the producer groups and crafts people PREDA has helped organize a new association of producers groups with the help of the Canada Fund for Development.

The Canadian Prime Minister came to visit one of the Trade Fairs which PREDA helped organize last July. Another one this November attended by the Canadian Ambassador was a great success.

There have been training seminars for producers to help them improve quality and teach business methods. There were visits from several of the PREDA European partners who import the products.

This helps makes PREDA partially self-reliant in it’s work to help women and children.

Christmas is the special time to remember children and we are organizing outings to fun fairs, picnics, parties and other events for many children this year.

We remember you all in our prayers and wish you many blessings this Christmas from all of us at PREDA Children’s Home.

Fr. Shay Cullen and the PREDA Children and Staff

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