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Preda Newsletter March 2010

March 2, 2010 · 



This is the first Newsletter of 2010 and Christmas was a wonderful time for the children at PREDA, thanks to all of you, the good honest caring people who support this important work saving children from abusers and jails. We at PREDA wish you all an inspiring healthy life in 2010 and beyond.

There were several Christmas and New Year parties and lots of fun and games with beach outing and home visits. Donors are thanked for their support and can be assured that their donations, given directly or through partner charities go directly to the needs of the children. What better way is there to do good in the world than bring happiness and joy to children deprived of so much, even the love and care of their parents, and have been seriously abused and exploited.

So what exactly are you supporting? Much more than a nice safe and comfortable home with good food and education, friendly staff and co-residents, it is a “come alive” life-style that restores their dignity and self worth, fills them with confidence and inspires them to overcome the past and face the future with strength and fortitude.
There is a total of 110 children and youth, boys and girls being cared for in separate communities by professionally trained staff. The “come alive”, life giving programme lifts up the spirits and belief of the children and youth in themselves. They come to see themselves of great value as human beings. Eventually they light up and become full of self-confidence and are empowered. They know their rights and how to respect themselves and each other, and take a stand for justice against their abusers having overcome fear and intimidation.

In these days where transparency, openness and monitoring of children in care is so important, all supporters are reassured that the children and youth are well cared for as witnessed by qualified Filipino and international volunteers, interns and researchers, all professionals (screened and approved) who join the PREDA staff and work alongside them and the children.

They are independent observers and witnesses and their presence does not only guarantee a reliable independent monitoring team and an exercise in transparency but their presence uplifts the self esteem of the children who feel important and of great value to have the attention not only of the PREDA staff but Filipinos and foreign volunteers and interns alike.

A newly released country report by a US State Department 2009, led by Hillary Clinton has declared the Philippine jails to be in a “terrible state” especially where children are incarcerated with adult criminals and endure great hardship and even torture. The full report is on

The report says prisons and detention centers are “a sickening situation”. Even though it is forbidden by law to mix kids with adults in prisons, it is frequently ignored and the transfer of youth accused of a crime to a charity like the PREDA New Dawn center is frustrated and delayed by untrained social workers, uncaring police and prosecutors. Judges are more compassionate and helpful in transferring the youth to PREDA by court orders. PREDA continues visiting the jails and detention centers, filing motions for the release and transfer of youth from horrific dehumanized conditions. Volunteers and interns at PREDA have seen these conditions themselves have documented their experiences, published in “Feedback” and “Volunteers Reports” on

Jonjon, 16, is one of the many victims of police brutality and torture rescued by PREDA social workers after several weeks of cruel imprisonment in the dungeon-like detention cells in Taguig. When Jonjon was rescued by a court order obtained by PREDA, he was malnourished, frail, could hardly walk and had bruises on his body. He had no earthly possessions other than a dirty T-Shirt and shorts; he was helped to the rescue van and given clean clothes. Then half starved he was driven away from the prison and brought to a restaurant and hungrily ate his first descent meal in months. He was silent the whole 3 hour trip to PREDA.

Upon arrival, he was welcomed and greeted by the staff and the other boys who prepared another meal for him that night. Later PREDA social workers found out that Jonjon was abused in the detention by the police guards. According to the boy, he and others were subjected to torture. Their toenails were beaten and crushed with a hard object, forcing them to confess to the crimes alleged against them. His legs were beaten with a wooden stick. The stick had written on it, “remember me”, to remind them not to commit the crime again. It’s a depressing reality that these evil acts are allowed to go on with impunity.

At the Bukang Liwayway (New Dawn) Home for Boys and Vocational training center, Jonjon opened up and shared all his traumatic experiences to the PREDA staff, he cried out in the therapy room and a great burden lifted from him having shared the secret he had been warned never to reveal. He is now safe from all that and is starting a new life. No crime has been proven against him and he claims he was framed up by the police, who routinely protect the real criminals who pay the police and share the loot of there robberies.

Now with 53 other boys he is attending non formal classes, learning skills, like carpentry and welding and playing basketball in the afternoon. At the prayer meeting he prays for those who make it possible “thank you Lord and bless all who gave me freedom and justice “.

The rescue of abused children goes on continually. They are desperately poor, some come from remote villages where they were sexually abused by their neighbors or mostly their own father who thinks he can do whatever he likes with them. As I sat down to write this, another 12 year old girl was brought to PREDA from a remote mountain side hut where she was sexually abused for several years by the father. The mother had been beaten and driven away under threats. The small 10 year old brother witnessed the abuse, but lived in fear of the father. Eventually they both ran away found their mother and told her. Now they are both safe at PREDA as the father is out to kill them. A criminal charge has been filed against the father and an arrest warrant has been issued.

Every few days another child is rescued and brought to the safety of the girls’ home. They are depressed, withdrawn, beaten down when they first come in, but a glimmer of a smile begins when they are told that they are in a safe place where the abuser cannot get them and they can have all their needs and enjoy simple pleasures like a shower, shampoo, clean new clothes, good food and a real soft bed and cuddly toys to play with. It takes a few days or weeks for that glimmer to become a smile of happiness and relief. When I see these poor kids I realize how blessed I have been in life.

Gracelyn was 14 years old when she was raped by her stepfather. Her mother and father were separated, then the mother died of a disease, and the stepfather took the child to be his sexual partner. Gracelyn became pregnant; Her biological father who was living in Alaminos, Pangasinan heard about the abuse and took Gracelyn away from the stepfather; he asked help from the social workers of Alaminos and they immediately contacted PREDA and requested protection and custody for the child. Within hours she was in the safety of the Home for Girls. Criminal charges were prepared but unfortunately due to the delay in the justice process, the abuser was not arrested. PREDA will file the criminal charges.

With the best of the medical care, Gracelyn gave birth recently but at first she did not bond with the baby being so young she was unable to respond as a mature mother. But the PREDA staff helped her with counseling and affirmation, encouragement and good example by cuddling the child and allowing the other older girls to go on nurturing the baby and loving it. There was a very positive change in Gracelyn and the power of positive affirmation and care worked for her. She now takes good loving care of her baby and has a positive outlook in life. She would like to pursue her studies as soon as her baby gets older.

Angie is one of the newest arrivals at the PREDA home for girls. She was only 14 when she was enticed to work as a sex worker in a videoke bar together with her mother who worked there as a waitress. The father of Angie learned about it and went to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children to ask help. Luckily it was one of the villages where the PREDA human rights team had conducted their seminar to help build the village council to respond to child abuse and exploitation cases. And because the village officials are educated as to how to handle cases like this, they did the right thing to contact the municipal social welfare officers and then went to PREDA for therapy and recovery for Angie. Angie is still adapting to the new environment at PREDA and is slowly recovering, showing positive signs of recovery after having been sold as a prostitute by her own mother. These are some of the success stories that confirm the power of positive affirmation through support, love and care. They got all that support and attention from the PREDA Home for Girls and as many as 55 other girls are receiving the same treatment and recovering at this time.

The co-founder and programme director of PREDA recently received an award from his home town San Marcelino recognizing his work and the work of PREDA for social justice and empowerment of the community. “Most prophets are not accepted in their hometown, but not this time”, as Alex stated when he received the award recognizing his deeds in advancing women and children’s rights and the rights of indigenous people. The awarding was witnessed by his wife Cathy and many PREDA staff including myself (a former assistant parish priest of San Marcelino in 1972). He shared with the people his humble beginnings at PREDA. He explained how he became a human rights advocate. He has been also recognized and acclaimed here and abroad as an outstanding defender of human rights and for promoting the mission of PREDA locally and internationally.

The PREDA hotline phone rings from time to time not only with child abuse reports alone, but reports of violence against women. They get advice from the PREDA legal team how to file criminal cases against their offensive and violent husbands and partners.

This is another positive development in the work of PREDA. More women are empowered through the community seminars facilitated by the Public Education and Human Rights Team, supported by Irish Aid. More women are now aware of their rights and are encouraged to end the abuse they are experiencing at the hands of abusive husbands and partners.

The work of PREDA Foundation has been featured once again on one of the most widely read international magazine, World Mission. Fr. Jose Rebelo, the chief editor of the magazine, found PREDA’s work “magnificent” and a real reflection of faith in action, based on the social messages of Jesus to be of service to the poor and the oppressed. You may ask for copies of the world mission magazine from Comboni Missionaries, email ‘’ or email to ‘’ and PREDA will send you one.

PREDA OFFERS ALTERNATIVE AND ADVENTURE TOURISM TO COUNTER SEX TOURISM PREDA Foundation alternative Fair Trade tourism offers a new life experience to adventurers, travelers and trekkers who want to meet the people of the these exotic tropical islands and to have a reality experience of true life in the Philippines away from the artificial beaten tracks of commercial tourism.
PREDA Foundation offers fine low-cost accommodation, great adventures, meeting the Filipinos in the rural villages, trekking in the mountains and in the rain forests. Read more about this unusual and unique opportunity at / This is a positive alternative to consumer and sex tourism.

In 2009 there was an expansion of the volunteer and internship programme at PREDA. Dozens of young students, professionals and study groups from many countries came to stay at PREDA and participate in the social reality exposure experiences. All interested students, youth groups, social travelers, and professionals, especially civil and mechanical engineers, architects, lawyers, teachers, skilled mechanics are invited to apply as volunteers and interns this 2010. Just send an email to and request an application form. Also read the journals of former volunteers at

May we all work together to make this a happier world where the rights and dignity of women and children will be respected.

Our heartfelt thanks for all your support prayers and help.


Father Shay Cullen, The PREDA team and the children


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