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Preda Newsletter May 2010

May 31, 2010 · 

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DEAR FRIENDS AND DEFENDERS OF HUMAN RIGHTS,

PREDA TRUSTEE SURVIVES ASSASSINATION ATTACK.

We have been shot at, beaten, harassed and jailed over the years and now a former Preda staff, Conrado Villarez who gave dedicated service and commitment during the early ears of the growth of the Preda projects and is a member of the Preda Board of Trustees has been the target of an assassination attempt by a gunman who fired at him point blank a month ago. His quick reaction when the killer walked up to him is to brush away the gun with his right hand, but it fired into his hand, arm and side. It miraculously missed vital organs and he survived and was rushed to hospital. He has recovered and bravely returned to work as Municipal Treasurer of Subic town and where he is a senior election supervisor. He will help oversee the elections in Subic town where he has refused to join the schemes of corrupt business people who want him to lower their tax obligations. He is taking precautions.

THE CHALLENGING WORK OF PREDA.

Preda has been working for 36 years, since its founding in 1974 to rescue youth and children from jail, abusers, death squads and the streets. We have exposed the torture and abuse of children in prisons in Metro Manila and elsewhere. With the help of you, our supporters, there are 112 child victims of abuse recovering at Preda and enjoying a happier life and well supported in best practice, run-separate communities. They are receiving therapy, life values, skills training, education, legal assistance and protection from abusers, pedophiles, tortures and unjust imprisonment.

We have challenged the politicians and operators of the sex industry and we have succeeded in bringing human traffickers to justice and saved many young girls from horrific abuse as sex slaves and commercial sexual exploitation in bars, clubs and on the streets. We thank you if you are a donor or advocate for justice for the victims of abuse and exploitation.

PREDA FAIR TRADE SAVES MORE LIVES.

The Preda Fair Trade shares the earnings from selling dried mangos with the farmers besides its project of giving tri-bikes to the families of small farmers and workers. There was a sharing out to different Preda project of €209,000 in 2009. This helped save dozens of children from traffickers, sex clubs, and pedophiles. Angelica is just one of many children rescued from an abusive father & abuser. They are living a new life, safe, happier and looking to a brighter future. The biggest problem we have is bringing the abusers to justice and getting the prosecutors to prosecute. They are mostly men and seem to favour the accused rather than giving concern to the victim. Cases have been delayed for up to two years and we have to protect the child at Preda because the abuser will harm or abuse her again if she goes home. Our para-legal team has lobbied the department of justice and some cases were eventually filed in the court but the accused is still at large unable to be found and arrested by the police.

A YOUNG BOY RESCUED FROM TORTURE AND UNJUST IMPRISONMENT.

Mark was distraught, withdrawn, and traumatized; a vacant stare when he was rescued and set free by the Preda team, he could not believe that people were being kind and were there to help him from the goodness of their heart. He had never experienced much love in his young life of abuse. Deprivation drove him to the streets to survive. No father, no love nor guidance & inspiration for him. He grew up feeling unwanted and rejected.

In the police station, he was unjustly accused of a crime he did not do. He was beaten and tortured. The police took turns in punching him in the stomach. Then in a small windowless room, they beat him again. They hit him in the chest using their fists and gun. One pointed his gun at Mark and demanded he confess to stealing the cash and jewelries, otherwise they would kill him. He was so scared he agreed to say he did it.

He was detained for 4 months, mixed with other adult inmates in cramped quarters so small they cannot lie down. Sleep was by rotation. The only food was what visitors brought and they ate left-overs like animals. Starving day and night, he wolfed down anything he could get. The brutality happened whenever the police were angry or annoyed, they blamed Mark and beat him with sticks and steel bars on the back of the legs. It was a nightmare in a hell hole, the worst of all was the hopelessness; he had no one in the world, he was abandoned as a child.

Mark experienced further physical abuse while inside the police detention center. Police officers hit him two to three times in the buttocks using a branch of a guava tree as a welcome rite. Police officers also hit the inmates in their palms using a stick only because they were noisy when there were visitors. Also sometimes at night, when the police on duty was drunk, he would ask the inmates to go out of the holding cell one by one and he hit them at the back of the legs with a steel bat.

Then mercifully Mark was released by a court order applied for by Preda and released to freedom and a chance to a life of dignity and goodness. Today he is recovering and finding a new meaning to life, he is respected and respects the others in the center. He has no desire to escape and together with 60 other youth, he is content to make a better & happier life for himself. He has found a father image at the center, brothers and sisters in the staff and feels loved, wanted and of value. He has a good future ahead of him.

RECOVERING VICTIMS HAVE A HAPPY SUMMER.

The school is over and the Preda children are enjoying their summer through beach outings, river fun, going for picnic at children’s parks and enjoying sports festivals. Just recently all the Preda children and youth joined the Regional Sports competition and won medals and trophies, grabbing the second over-all champion award. At the moment, a total of 112 children, boys and girls are being cared for in the two separate homes for children, one in the countryside at the Preda organic farm and one at Preda main building overlooking the beautiful Subic Bay.

THE STORY OF ANNA AND PRINCESS.

More children, victims of sexual abuse, are being rescued every week and the youngest this week are sisters 2 year-old Anna and 5 year-old Princess, both victims of sexual abuse by a 13 year-old boy whose mother is a sex club manager in barrio Barretto, Olongapo City. Analita and her two children were rejected by their father who lives with another woman but a cousin of her husband offered Analita a job in a sex bar in Subic Town. Hungry, distraught and abandoned with two crying children, she took it.
She stayed in a small room at the back of the sex bar and a few weeks later, Analita noticed her children were greatly disturbed and was shocked lately when she found out that Princess and Anna were both sexually abused by a 13 year-old boy, the son of the sex club manager. The boy had watched pornographic DVD’s and was aware of the obscene realities of the sex club business.
Analita was ignored by the mother of the boy and also by the Subic Municipal social worker whom Analita begged for help. She suggested for Analita to accept a pay-off from the mother of the boy. A local village official, trained in child protection by Preda (thanks to Irish Aid) and the mother of a child that was helped by Preda heard about it and brought Analita and the two children to Preda. The family is now safe at Preda and recovering from the trauma they suffered. Legal action is being taken to get the boy into a rehabilitation program. Other legal action against the mother of the boy and the social worker is underway.

THEATER GROUP TO TOUR JAPAN THIS JULY.

The Preda-Akbay Theater group has been invited to present the now famous musical drama “Once We Had A Dream” in selected venues in Japan this coming July 23-28, 2010. The dramatic musical play tells the story of environmental destruction caused by the irresponsible mining industry, the trafficking abroad of children from an impoverished and debt-ridden village, and the brave and courageous villagers and a group of international human rights workers that rescued them. It ends in both tragedy and triumph. The players are empowered and trained outspoken students of the Preda Youth Empowerment and Development Program called AKBAY. They themselves work with street children and trafficked victims. They have also overcome difficulties and hardships in life and have emerged through the Preda personality development program to succeed. Most are youth scholars of Preda also.

The tour in Japan is sponsored by Masao Tagaya, the well known director of several region-wide Sheltered Workshop for Children based in Kofu City and prefecture. The Preda partner group Free The Children Japan will also hopefully host a performance in Tokyo on the 28th of July.

The theater training and musical drama is used to enable youth to develop strong characters, become self-confident and be empowered and they develop an ability to express their emotions and develop their characters through sharing their talents in the powerfully-moving and social education performance that has been shown all over Europe, Canada, & Australia over a period of several years. This is their first visit to Japan. If your community or organization want to invite them for a tour please email shaycullen@preda.org

MORE PEOPLE COME TO PREDA FOR SOCIAL EXPOSURE.

They visit the jails with Preda social workers, help free the children from subhuman conditions, trek the mountains to visit the Preda-supported communities of indigenous people, help distribute relief goods to the victims of floods, join the child feeding project, work with the youth rescued from prisons in the organic gardening, go with them on picnics and play games and sports, sing, play music and join plays, dances and discos. Other do the work they love and others travel to the rain forest and to the beaches and enjoy beautiful scenery. Others help with legal matters, accounting and Fair Trade, and visiting the handicraft producers and the mango farmers. This is the hard challenging life of volunteers and interns at Preda. Many are coming to Preda to have this life-changing experience meeting the ordinary poor people but very welcoming people of the Philippines.

They are Filipino and foreign students, professionals and journalists. One of these groups is Free the Children Japan (FTCJ), a charity organization that brings student groups every year to Preda. Others are from Canada, Ireland, Germany and Italy and Austria. Three more groups of retired professionals from Germany and Austria will be here in 2010. For alternative tourism and social education exposures feel free to contact shaycullen@preda.org Teachers and educators are especially encouraged to support young people¹s participation in social awareness program.

HOUSING PROJECT FOR DISPLACED INDIGENOUS PEOPLE.

Last year, the Philippines was battered by strong typhoons that brought big floods in many areas in the country. In Zambales, a town called Botolan, about 200 kms from Preda in Olongapo, thousands of people were displaced and their land destroyed by the floods, whole villages were swept away, destroying lives of people and taking away their livelihood. After the big deluge, thousands of people are homeless living in tents in resettlement areas. Many months have passed and a lot of people are still living in dire conditions. Preda conducted several relief operations there in the past to give aid to indigenous families who are the most affected of all.
A housing project funded by Trocaire, Ireland will give hope to 25 indigenous people’s families to start with. Preda will be working in partnership with Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine charity in establishing the community for the affected families in Botolan.

SCHOLARSHIP PROJECT FOR INDIGENOUS CHILDREN.

The Preda-Kapatiran partnership is with a group of dedicated people in the Netherlands who are dedicated to providing education and human development to the impoverished indigenous people. The funds supplied are for a scholarship project that supports many indigenous children by sending them to elementary, high school and college and providing school supplies and allowance. Dozens of children are being educated and eight graduated from high school and college this month, some with recognition and awards. Six (6) other youth scholars of Preda graduated from college this March also.

MISEREOR LIVELIHOOD PROJECT FOR REINTEGRATED BOYS.

Another good project will be started this year to give assistance to the boys who are already reintegrated to their families. Misereor, a German charity agency is funding this project which will give livelihood opportunities for the eligible boys and their family to help augment economic income. A sad reality in the Philippines is the widespread poverty that forces even children to turn to crimes to sustain their living. With the new project of Preda and Misereor, it is more likely that there are better chances of success for the boys who have been rescued from the streets and prison, have been trained at Preda and return to their homes. This important follow-though assistance will keep them out of temptation, crimes and off the streets and helping their families.

NEW HOME FOR GIRLS BEING CONSTRUCTED.

Only this year, Preda opened its new home for boy’s which is now operational giving care to over 60 boys saved from prisons. More boys are rescued every week and going through a process of positive life transformation.

Now, there is another challenge for Preda with the growing number of abused and exploited girls in our custody and the many reports and referrals that we are receiving. The present girl’s home is already full and with the increasing number of children victims of sexual abuse and those exploited in the sex industry, Preda is determined to expand its program and open a new center to help more exploited girls recover in a positive environment.

The new girl’s home is situated in a beautiful place in the countryside at a valley near a waterfall. A deep well was already built and electric transformers were set up to facilitate faster construction. We are in the stage of finalizing structural designs and full blast construction will start very soon. Again, we thank all the kind-hearted donors who are continually supporting the program, more girls will have a new start in life once the new center is complete. We welcome any form of additional support for the new girl’s home. This will be a great boost to the action against traffickers, abusers and exploiters of children we must keep on the work despite the hazards and risks from the sex Mafia. Please take a stand with us against abusers.

Thanking you sincerely,

Father Shay Cullen, the Staff and the Preda Children

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