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PREDA NEWSLETTER May 1998

May 2, 1998 · 

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Dear Friends,

As I was leaving PREDA on my way to Germany and Switzerland to participate in the Global March activities against Child Labour I can’t help but tell you before I leave the many events and activities in the past two months at the PREDA Children’s Home. So, go on to these pages while I leave on a jet plane…

Children’s Summer Activities

Enchanted Kingdom
It was a happy and refreshing break from the tedious work of legal hassles, court battles and dealing with the sordid world of paedophiles and sad and angry feeling that we feel when we find more abused children. So the summer outings were like a tonic. With the staff and 25 children from the PREDA out-reach programme we visited the Enchanted Kingdom, a carnival playground, south of Manila. The excitement was high from the moment the bus took off from the PREDA Centre. The kids got me to join them on the roller coaster, huge swing, the bumpers and lots of other thrilling rides. It was great fun especially for children who have seldom left the confines of their narrow life in the poorer section of the city. PREDA is living up to the name of its programme – Childhood for Children. I regained happy memories of my own childhood when swirling around in the bumper cars or screaming on the roller coaster.

Summer Camp
Two weeks previous to this, we were at the PREDA Summer Camp held at a beach for three days with seventy-five children from 11 to 17 years old. There were sports, games, races, seminars on family values, prayer sessions and of course swimming in the early morning in the warm tropical waters.

Camping
A week before that another group of twenty teenagers set out for a mounting camping trek but the road was so bad the tire on the vehicle burst and we decided that it was too rough and dangerous to go on so we changed the tire and returned to where we had a great week-end camping by the ocean.

Seminars For Social Workers

We have started holding seminars on our Inter-Disciplinary Training on Child Abuse for Government and Non-Government social workers. It is to orientate them on the underlying problems of abused children and the causes and the difficulties of the children to tell others that they are being abused. They are threatened and afraid to tell anyone. Social workers are reluctant to report because they too feel threatened. So we are inviting them to share information with us and even to refer cases to PREDA that they cannot handle. They reported that most cases of child sexual abuse are undetected for years and then there is private out-of-court financial settlement reached between the parents and the abusers and the police. Everybody makes money out of it except the child victim. This is the situation that we are trying to change. But it is very perpasive and entrenched. Shocking as it sounds, this system makes it financially rewarding for parents if the child is abused. There is no investigation, no charges and the abuser can go on hurting and molesting other children. It has become the accepted practice in the community.

Four New Children Join PREDA

Four new children joined the PREDA residential family this month. They are all victims of sexual abuse and all have filed complaints against their alleged abusers. When they have undergone therapy and counselling and are recovering, we will assist them with their court cases.

New TV Documentaries on PREDA
There have been three TV documentary reports in Germany on the work of PREDA this May. All are very positive and supportive of the work we do and another longer documentary will be broadcast this month in Canada in cooperation with Free the Children. This is a movement against child labour organised by Canadian and American children a few years ago by then 12 years old Craig Kielburger and his family from Toronto. This remarkable movement works in cooperation with PREDA. In June, children from around Canada and the United States will be gathering and shipping school and health kits to the poor children of the Philippines. PREDA is organising the distribution which will be integrated with seminars and puppet shows on the rights of children.

The Paedophiles Strike Back
Unbelievable as it sounds. There is a paedophiles’ support group operating in Olongapo City led by a German national and supported by local politicians who have been trying to close down PREDA. The paedophiles’ protectors were featured last 15 of May on a national TV programme that goes around the Philippines and via satellite to the US and the Middle East. This group collects money from the many foreigners who run bars, clubs, and massage parlours in Olongapo and are known as the sex industry investors. The worst kind. Similar groups, some former US Navy servicemen operate sex tours from the US to Olongapo and Angeles City. This is now the target of international public awareness and protest campaign. We are busy supplying the information to the media about this nefarious activities that exploit women and children.

False Charges From the Paedophiles
One member, an American former serviceman, to be charged with the sexual abuse of a minor, moved defensively a few weeks ago and filed false complaints against PREDA and myself and government officials caring for children. Ridiculous baseless complaints, some dismissed now but still hours of extra work and the paedophiles press releases to counter. This is a common defense ploy by suspects and their lawyers.

Art Camp
The Children recovering from abuse at the PREDA Center went to a special summer Art camp for three days too and had a great time. Then the following week they attended a musical in Manila presented and performed by children like themselves. As I was leaving PREDA yesterday on my way to Germany and Switzerland to participate in the Global march activities against Child Labour all the children were taking the dancing and singing classes. All of these activities are planned and organised with the participation of the children. It is important for building their self-confidence and developing their abilities.

Well, there are lots of other things going on at PREDA but there is no space to tell it all. So until the next newsletter.

Every Blessing ,

Fr. Shay Cullen and the PREDA Children and Staff

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