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Preda Newsletter December 2009

December 2, 2009 · 

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This is a happy time for the many children being cared for by Preda. Twelve (12) more children were released from prison to the care of the “Preda New Dawn” boy’s home to start a new life of dignity and respect. Six new girls were rescued from their abusers in recent weeks. There are 110 children in the three homes and more are getting follow-up care after their reintegration to a safe family. It’s no easy task as all these children are victims of abuse and hardship, cruelty and abuse. So they live with strong emotions and urgent needs that the Preda professional staffs constantly strive to meet as best as we can. Since most are missing the love of the childhood, the love of parents and brothers and sisters, there is no adequate substitute.

As one Preda supporter told me, “Father, I know what it is like, I was abused myself and grew up without love or care, if only I had what you give the children at Preda my life would have been totally different. It could have been happy.”

Christmas is the season when we try to bring happiness to others, especially to deprived children, the lonely and abandoned and try to encourage safe, secure and happy children to share with those who have nothing. We look back over the past year and see how good and generous and committed we have been to children in need. I thank all of you who have given donations or have taken some action to protect children by letter-writing or volunteering or doing anything to make life happier and more just for children. It is never too late to do good for others and make your life all the more meaningful.

The real meaning of Christmas has been lost for many. You can help remind them that it is about giving hope to the hopeless and justice to the poor.

It is a time to be happy because we learned so much about our human dignity, our rights as human beings and as children of God and that there can be a world based on truth and justice. Jesus of Nazareth brought this good news to the world and lived and died for it. That’s why we celebrate his birthday.

RESCUE OF 12 CHILDREN FROM THE JAILS. The Preda Child Rescue Team continues its good work in visiting the jails, interviewing children and working for their release. Recently, 12 boys are rescued with the help of cooperative and child friendly judges who believe in the dignity of these children and the power of trust, respect and affirmation that the Preda open-centre is practicing.

Several more girls were rescued from abusers. The shocking side of the trafficking of child for sexual exploitation is the lack of prosecution, pimps and the sex bars in recent weeks and they have settled into the Preda children’s home. We heard their harrowing stories of abuse and exploitation.

Visits by youth groups filled-up the days of September and October. From the St. Andrews Center, Pierce St. Dublin, a group of ten youth leaders came and stayed ten days in the Preda program with their social workers led by Susan Menton and Caroline Jones. They met me in Manila and visited the jails. They also participated in all the activities of the boys and girls in the Preda homes and went to the villages of the indigenous people helped by Preda and those refugees whose villages were wiped out by massive floods. Groups of students from St. Peters, Tuggerah, Australia came also and has similar life experiences.

OPENING OF THE PREDA “BUKANG LIWAYWAY”(NEW DAWN) HOME FOR BOYS. The best gift that we could give this Christmas is a beautiful new home set in an organic farm surrounded by fields and bordered by a stream and hills. It is a place where the dignity of the youth will be enhanced and recognized that they have equal rights with other people despite being in conflict-with the law. Many have been rescued from terrible sub-human living conditions in government prisons and detention houses. They will transfer from the existing home for boys at the main Preda center on the hill overlooking Subic Bay to the new home in Nagbayan, Castillejos.

We are grateful to the many donors who made the construction of the new home possible. Your generous support is giving hope, dignity and self-respect to as many as 54 youths and many more as we expand the rescue operations and help more boys. The center can comfortably give a home up to 100 kids, in an open, happy, dignified environment. No institutionalization here but a home marked y openness and transparency, where professional volunteers can observe and talk freely with the youth and staff. More challenges are to be expected next year as we increase the number of children to be served but the Preda team will continue its service and commitment to give these kids a new life.

Preda Founder and President Fr. Shay Cullen has been nominated for the “Transparency International Integrity Award” by the prestigious organization Transparency International, based in Berlin that monitors organizations, agencies, businesses and countries around the world. Read more at www.transparency.ie

CONVICTION AT LAST. After 8 long years of legal battle, the child abuse case filed against a local pedophile has finally ended in a conviction and a sentence of life imprisonment for abusing two children, 5 and 7 years old. Preda cared and closely monitored the case and provided legal assistance to the girls and their family.

Both children are in high school and Preda still supports their education and allowance. They will come to Preda again this December to join in the Christmas parties.

RELIEF OPERATIONS IN BOTOLAN, ZAMBALES. Lito, a flimsy looking boy ran after the Preda staff as the van parked near the converted container truck. Their house was destroyed when the ravaging water wiped away many houses in Botolan and buried their schools beneath tons of debris, sand and rocks that were washed down from the mountain. Many villages were completely devastated. Hundreds of families were displaced and are now living in dire conditions in tents and shanty houses in resettlement centers in Botolan, Zambales.

Preda initiated several relief operations to bring goods, rice and other commodities that the poor families need. In one mission, Preda and the AKBAY puppeteers put on their show to give delight to the hundreds of children using children rights oriented stories. Lito and the other children were very happy to watch the show. After the puppet show, a hundred children received a big bag-pack each with snacks and complete school supplies. They were jumping for joy. These were part of a food donated by Canadian Food for Children project. Preda, in partnership with Irish Aid agency is now planning to build houses for the displaced families of the indigenous people who were most affected by the flood and typhoons.

PASSING OF THE ANTI-CHILD PORN LAW & CEREMONY IN MANILA. After years of campaigning and lobbying, the Republic Act 9775 or Anti-Child Pornography Law was finally passed. There was not much a ceremony during the signing of a milestone law in this country where children’s rights protection is the least priority. But at least, the efforts of Preda, Unicef, AKAP-BATA and many other agencies brought fruitful reward upon the passing of the law.

Father Shay Cullen, Senator Jamby Mardigal, Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim and Optical Media Board Chairman Ronnie Rickets were present during a ceremonial activity in Manila for the passing of the law where a pile of child pornography DVD’s were destroyed in a big crushing machine. Fr. Shay also gave a powerful speech to emphasize the need for every individual to report anyone who abuses children through pornography and the need for internet service providers to install a filtering software, like NETCLEAN so that pedophiles will be denied access to child pornography websites.

CHILDREN’S MONTH CELEBRATION IN OCTOBER. The whole month of October was filled with activities aimed towards child rights promotion and fulfilment of children’s rights to participation, protection and development. A parade opened up the month-long celebration and series of activities followed like visual arts, music, theater and dancing festivities. It was participated by students from schools and beneficiaries from agencies that are giving protection and shelter to children in difficult circumstances.

The culminating program, spearheaded by Preda Foundation was set in the last week of October where it was joined by more than 1500 children and youth from all over the city. Two animated films about child pornography and child sexual abuse were shown that day and there was a discussion with the participants afterwards. It was also the launching day of the Preda Comics, a social handbook about children’s rights. The Preda Co-Founder and Program Director Alex Corpus Hermoso led the launching of the Preda comics and gave a solidarity message emphasizing the need for the Anti-Child pornography bill to be passed immediately since children are most at risk because of child pornography especially on the internet which is unprotected.

PREDA CONTINUES TO ASSIST JOURNALIST AND MEDIA PRACTITIONERS. In the past weeks, Preda assisted several journalists and media team in the making of stories and documentary films about children’s plight in the Philippines and the Preda projects that rescue, and care for these children. RTE, the leading Irish television station is making a documentary entitled, “On God’s Mission”, a history of Irish missionary activity around the world to be aired in March 2010. A media team based in Toronto and London is set to feature the life story of Father Shay in a 2-hour documentary film to be released next year. Bono, the famous Irish rock star and U2 band leader is a human rights campaigner too. He gave the free use of his well known song “God Sent an Angel”, to be used as part of the sound track of eth film. Preda supporter Martin Sheen will do the narration.

More journalists are set to arrive in 2010 to do more stories about the work of Preda. Our friends from the popular TV series in Germany “TATORT”, came to visit Preda again to visit and join us in the rescue of children from prisons in Metro Manila and are making a documentary also for German television. They are also happy to celebrate with us the opening of the new home for children that they help built through fund raising and awareness building.

Preda-Galway has continued its super fund-raising effort with a pop concert given by another famous Irish pop singer Damien Dempsey who is an active advocate and supporter of children’s rights and the work of Preda. Preda Ireland has also made a beautiful calendar for 2010 with photos of the Preda children and photos of the famous Irish sports stars by professional photographer Russell Barnes. Any one wanting to order may email Philip Cribbin”
.

From the children and the staff at Preda, We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a great a New Year.

With Heartfelt Thanks,

Fr. Shay Cullen and all at Preda.

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