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Preda Newsletter Christmas 2008

December 4, 2008 · 

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Dear Friends & defenders of children,

As I sat down to write this letter to you our Preda van arrived back from the sprawling city and brought five more young children from the horrid dirty overcrowded detention cells. They had been behind bars for days and weeks. They were still a bit shocked at their sudden rescue and flight to freedom; now they are safe from abuse and deprivation, hunger and unhappiness, much of it thanks to you our friends and supporters.

Five of the boys sharing the humid, small and smelly detention cell with other youth detainees

Five of the boys sharing the humid, small and smelly detention cell with other youth detainees

A happy Christmas awaits them at Preda with 64 other children and youth rescued during the past months from similar sub human conditions. Many other children we rescued have been reunited happily with their parents and will spend Christmas at home. Our home for boys is full to overflowing. Our campaign to have the CRADLE youth detention center outside Manila closed down after we uncovered child abuse and torture by guards shows signs of success. The population there is down from 145 two years ago to just 40 today. Preda was given the custody of several boys from Cradle by the courts.

These children gave their recorded accounts of brutal beatings and sub-human conditions bordering on torture and drew pictures that show what they endured. The prison art is available on line at www.preda.org. Dozens of young children not yet charged with a crime have been release by the legal action of Preda rescue team from police cells to the custody of their parents. The legal department has succeeded in the past three months in getting the courts to dismiss 9 cases of crimes supposedly committed by the minors. With a clean record they have a chance of a better future. Several are undergoing skilled training at Preda. Three of the senior boys are now earning a daily wage as Pedi cab operators. Preda provides the Pedi cabs. Three others are earning and learning as welding apprentices. Others are earning at part-time jobs in organic farming. These boys have developed their own theatre play about the conditions of life behind bars. It is a powerful portrayal of the life in youth detention centers. They present the play at schools and public events. It is a powerful education and deterrent to would be wayward youth. They also join the tree planting project with the Indigenous People helped by the Preda Fair-Trade. 2000 trees are planted every year.

The boys, with smiles beaming on their faces, as they enjoy freedom in the PREDA center

The boys, with smiles beaming on their faces, as they enjoy freedom in the PREDA center

It will be a happy Christmas also for several very young girls recently rescued from sex slavery. One 15-year-old, Fely was trafficked and sold to a brothel in Malaysia with five other children. After months of horrible abuse she was rescued and flown back to the Philippines and brought to the Preda Children’s home for therapy, recovery and protection from the sex Mafia. During a medical check up she was found to be pregnant, perhaps with twins, a huge challenge for her as she is so young, but thankfully she has no disease.

Young as she is Fely is devoted to the baby and will give birth after Christmas time. So that is two beautiful children saved together. For sure she would have been forced to have an abortion had she not been saved. Fely has made a fast spirited recovery and wanted to go to school. But the principle knowing she was to give birth did not want her as it would give a bad image to the school. The Preda social workers took swift action to remind the school principle of the rights of the child and the anti- discrimination law and the consequences that awaited its violation. Attitudes quickly changed and Fely was welcomed in the school. She is admired for her devotion to her baby. Unlike a terrible tragedy that happened recently. A dead fetus was found in the school toilets some months ago. Abortion is common among the abused minors because of the vibrant sex business and government inaction and unconcern. Fely is resilient, brave, and happy. There are 53 girls in the two Preda girls homes all doing very well and developing their self esteem and a new sense of personal dignity.

CFC Girls during their swimming activity at Ponds and Pines Resort, San Marcelino Zambales

CFC Girls during their swimming activity at Ponds and Pines Resort, San Marcelino Zambales

It will be a happy Christmas also for Angelie, who was also recently rescued from pimps in Angeles city. Her mother is a bar woman and the father a German sex tourist but he soon abandoned Angelie and her mother. When the mother was in jail for theft, Angelie then 9 years old was sexually abused by a relative. She ran away from home and was picked up by pimps and sold to sex tourists from European countries near the Molly Malone sex bar and a British run club catering mostly to customers from the UK. Social workers got a tip-off and she was rescued and brought the Preda home for commercially exploited children. Angelie is only 12 but she is now safe but still bewildered by all that happened to her.

One-Child and Minga Preda partners.
These exploited and abused young girls will all recover and hopefully become as self confident and empowered as Maryann, who was trafficked and exploited in the sex industry and was rescued early on. She recovered quickly, finished high school and is now in college. She was recently invited to travel and speak at a Unicef conference on the exploitation of children held in Winnipeg Canada. Our partner there, One-Child, a dynamic children’s rights organization founded and led by Cheryl Perera a charismatic teenager who is helping us build a new home for exploited girls. Cheryl got Maryann to the conference. She was a great success. Years ago she inspired Kate Simon, a 15 year old from Boston, who started Minga, to help fight the commercial sexual exploitation of girls. Fely might name her baby (if a girl), Cheryl in honor of Cheryl of One-child. If Twins the second can be named Katie, after Katie Simon of Minga.

CFC GIRLS JOINED THE Regional Street Children Congress on October 29, 2008 at Rizal triangle Olongapo City

CFC GIRLS JOINED THE Regional Street Children Congress on October 29, 2008 at Rizal triangle Olongapo City

Training police and government social workers. The Preda campaign to develop awareness about the sexual slavery of children has gain momentum and we are rescuing more and more children and we are holding training seminars of Government social workers and women police. These are the key authorities that can go to the streets and arrest pimps, exploiters, traffickers and take custody of the minors. Then they can refer them to Preda children’s home. Police women, General Yolanda Tanigue based in camp Crame, Metro Manila, is a big help in pushing the police to get out of the police station and cooperate with us in saving he children and bringing the criminals and rapists to justice.

It’s already a happy Christmas for the many children in our ‘child feeding program’ reported in our last newsletter and we are happy to announce that we have successfully bought 21.3 hectares of land in a beautiful scenic setting in the countryside for the new home for commercially sexually exploited children. (CSEC)

Preda-Akbay inspire and train youth for active Christian life
Many young people are assisted to go to high school and college by Preda supporters. They help the work of preda by volunteering to join the Preda-Akbay puppet team. They also organize youth to distribute stickers around the towns and city to publicize the Preda child protection hot line. Every week end, they are doing a one hour radio show to inspire youth to a better active life. Some Akbay leaders have participated in national seminars on drug abuse prevention and give their seminars to teenagers. In the elementary school the Preda preventive education team uses the puppet show to teach the elementary school children – children’s rights and obligations and how to be safe and avoid being led astray and abused. They are also made to understand the difference between a ‘bad touch’ and ‘good touch’. 47 sessions were conducted directly to 2,493 children from July to October 2008.

The team also works with the human rights education team that is strengthening the local district councils for the protection of children and women. As education on children rights spreads fewer children are jailed thanks to the seminars. The task here is to educate the village and district officials on her duty to report crimes against children and not to negotiate a payment in private pay off between the pedophile and the parents. The seminars supported by IRISH AID enlightens parents and relatives of abused children and they are bringing the child to the Preda home for protection and therapy and legal action against the abusers. The case of Marilu is a remarkable example. She was raped many times by her father at14 and when her mother saw it one time she ran to the police .The Father in a frenzy of anger burnt down the bamboo and grass roofed hut, abducted the 5 children to another town and stayed with relatives and continued to abuse Marilu. Her mother made secret contact with her children when the father was not around. Marilu became pregnant and the father kept it secret and locked her in a room until she gave birth ,then he took the child and it was never seen again .It is presumed he killed the baby. The Mother of Marilu, desperate and shocked sought help and was immediately referred to Preda by a person who had attended the seminars. She ran away with marilu and her youngest child to the safety of the Preda children’s home. We are filing criminal charges against the father who is still at large.

The Preda Akbay leaders organized youth to join rallies in October at the national congress building on national day of No-prostitution. This is to expand our campaign to end trafficking and sexual exploitation and get a new law passed to stop it. The scandal of the government tolerating sex industry catering to thousands of foreign sex tourists from the developed countries abusing young girls has damaged the people of the Philippines and their dignity here and abroad. The rally participants called for expanded family tourism instead. They also held a rally against the proposed coal fired electric generating plant on scenic Subic Bay that will emit 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. This would endanger the whole population.

More family tourism – less sex tourism. The recent announcement that US and Korean family tourism investors will build a huge family tourist resort on Subic Bay may force the sex industry to close down and have the planned coal fired coal plant built somewhere else. The Akbay also stage a dramatic play on the environmental destruction of irresponsible mining on the environment at the Olongapo City convention centre. 2000 students attended. The Akbay team was invited to several distant provinces to train local theatre groups and perform similar plays.

PREDA FAIR-TRADE
The Preda Fair-Trade team has expanded its education program into Mindanao to the children of mango farmers. There are 49 children (19 high school & 30 elementary) coming from 4 communities in the project. They are the children of cooperative members, 24 are small scale Mango farmers, 12 are Mango caretaker/tenant and 13 are farm workers. Their children were provided with school uniforms, shoes, school supplies (bags, notebooks, ball pens, etc) and transportation allowance. These are the children of the poorest workers in the mango industry. Farmers with land and up to ten trees are prospering by growing mangos as the price has risen with the help of Preda Fair-Trade intervention as a buyer offering higher prices and getting a big share of the harvest. This caused a shortage for other buyers and has pressured them to offer higher prices. Preda fair trade keeps price-fixing cartels from reemerging.

Christmas is coming and it is a time where we reflect and act all the more to the wonders and wisdom of God’s love and how Jesus was born in this world as a poor deprived child, soon to be threatened with death by king Herod and within weeks of birth became a exile and refugee. Thousands are like this today in Chad, Darfur, and the Congo and elsewhere there is violence and conflict. For them we can encourage governments to continue pressuring the Government of the Sudan to stop the violence. Through the life and mission of Jesus we are strengthened in faith and hope and love to continue his mission today and extend his love to the needy and the abused. Do your best to help more children find happiness. That is our mission and the mission of all of us at Preda.

There is a story about a young boy during Christmas that was bought to Preda. He was helping his impoverished mother who was abandoned by her husband and left to care for five children. Andy was out of school as he had to collect junk in his wooden cart and sell it to a scrap merchant Mr. Santos to buy food for the family. His mother washed clothes in a plastic basin at an outdoor public faucet. There hovel was tiny, a tine rusted roof and only flattened carton boxes for walls. There was no floor and when it rained they were walking in mud.

Andy was out pushing his hand cart and finding bits of scrap metal, cartons, bottles and tin cans. He was doing the recycling. Juan Tonyo, the rival junk merchant of Mr. Santos was angry at Andy because he would not sell to him, and all Andy friends only sold to Mr. Santos who paid a better price than Tonyo. On Christmas Eve when Andy was going home with the rice and a special treat of pork, Tonyo caught him in a dark side street and beat him up. He said he went too far as Andy was bleeding badly and soon he ran to his junk shop grabbed an old tool box of his son, JoJo and put it in the cart of Andy and then on his cell phone called the police. He told them that Andy stole the tool box and then attacked him when he caught him and there was a fight. The police believed Tonyo and took Andy to the police Station and flung him in Jail. There were other kids in there starving and Andy held on to the food he had.

That Christmas night the children cooked the rice and pork, their Christmas dinner was a mouthful for each. The church bells rang out with Christmas cheer, the Christmas singing carried down the street to the jail. Andy and the children cried. On the way home the happy crowds passed the jail without a thought about the children inside.

It was days before his mother found him. She protested that he was only 14 and it was illegal to jail him. She was ignored by the police chief who laughed at her, “I am up for promotion” he said, “one more arrest makes me superintendent”.

Then desperate at the terrible condition of Andy who was not treated for his wounds and was starving, she went to a human rights group they began a legal petition to get him out. The police sent the case to the prosecutor who was to charge Andy with theft and he got the tool box and it looked strange to him. JoJo Tonyo was stenciled on it but it was heavier than it should have been. He got his driver to check it and soon discovered a secret compartment in the bottom. Inside there was a gun. He sent it to the federal police laboratory and they found out that it had been used in a robbery murder where a police man had been killed. What a shock when Jojo and his father were and confronted with the evidence. JoJo confessed, and the charges against Andy were dropped and he was freed. When the case came to court it was revealed that the slain policeman was the son of the police chief. Sometimes justice does come in strange ways.

Please remember the jailed and abused children this Christmas

I and all the children and staff at Preda, wish you a very happy and meaningful Christmas

Father Shay Cullen. Alex Hermoso and the Preda team

You may send donations for PREDA to the Columban Fathers
Widney Manor road, Knowle
Solihull W. Midlands B93 9AB England
or to
St. Columbans, Dalgan Park, Navan. Ireland
or to
Preda Children’s fund
Metro Bank, Samson Rd.
Subic Bay,Olongapo City,
Philippines
Account Number 171-2-171-00011-9
(US$ account)

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