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Preda Newsletter September 2008

September 4, 2008 · 

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Dear Friends and supporters,

There are many important events and success stories in the past few months.

The International Person of the year award is given to Preda from the Irish RTE Media and by Rehab Ireland. It will be presented in City West Hotel, Dublin on 13 September. It’s a fund raiser for Rehab Ireland and tickets are €200 but contact kate.ryan@rehab.ie. Preda friends and volunteers hope to gather earlier in the hotel. This prize is in recognition of the work of Preda.

Small girls are imprisoned together with young boys are rescued by PREDA.

Small girls are imprisoned together with young boys are rescued by PREDA.

The International Solidarity Prize will be presented to Preda in Barcelona on the 9th October by Jose M. Carrera, President of Matres Mundi International representing a group of three famous Spanish children’s medical associations.

International Conference in BOGOTA
. Fr. Shay is invited by the Vatican Pontifical commission on Migrants and Street children to give a presentation in Bogota, Columbia at an international conference on street children and juvenile justice.

Wanted Volunteer engineers and builders as supervisors
We are inviting engineers, experienced builders and skilled workers to join us in building the new Children’s Home with our local contractor for a few weeks or months as the work begins around the last week of September. Please Contact PREDA.

Kids still being rescued 

Youth released and rehabilitated get vocational training. Hundreds have been helped

Youth released and rehabilitated get vocational training. Hundreds have been helped

The Preda Jail rescue team has continued to save children from detention. Despite the new law (2006) police still hold minors in cells but not as many as before. Change is slow despite the new law forbidding child detention.

Local government has not provided homes for children picked up by police. Three small boys 12, 13 and 14 years-old were rescued from behind bars last week. Since they are below 15 they cannot be charged but they are still detained in converted toilets in cage like cells with bars.

The Preda rescue and legal team travel to Metro Manila 3 times a week to monitor jails and save all they can. An average 9 to 12 kids are rescued every month. They have visited 35 Police stations and 8 detention centers in July. 18 kids were rescued and returned to their parents and 11 more brought to Preda, that’s 29 rescued in July alone. In August, 40 Police Stations, 6 youth detention centers were visited and 11 minors released from the cells to PREDA while 6 kids were released and returned to their Parents. Total released 17.

We found that Small girls are mixed in with boys in some places. We rescued five of them already. We are searching for their parents. Many more await rescue in dungeon like conditions all over metro Manila and beyond. They should never be behind prison bars, the detention and conditions are violations of Philippine law (R. A. 9344) and Convention on rights of the child and International law. Preda is fighting for these rights for the children with your support and help. Politicians are proposing to change the law and make kids criminally liable at 12 yrs old. PREDA is opposing this and calls on all to protest this move.

Girls have a happy home after rescue.

Girls have a happy home after rescue.

We are lobbying the government to allow NGO’s to visit the children and monitor jail conditions. Even clergy are banned unless they get a permit from the highest authority. None are given unless the requesting party is non critical and ready to turn a blind eye to abuse. This is to cover up the bad inhumane conditions. The children’s detention centers should be open to all if there is nothing to hide. The detained children should be able to talk freely to charity workers. The youth should be released to proper homes like Preda. While detained by government, however illegal it is, the children have a right to daily educational activities, sports, out door exercise, counseling, legal assistance, medical care, nutritious food, beds, showers, freedom from threats, abuse, violence and fear. All these are denied from them. Preda provides an open home by the sea where all the needs of the rescued kids are provided for.

Abuses in police detention centers

Interview with 20 minors who were formerly detained in police detention centers yielded the following findings:

Thirteen of the boys (68.42 percent) reported being physically abused by the older inmates, who they call ‘mayor’ and ‘bastonero’, and by the jail guards themselves. Such abuse includes hitting at the back of the thigh with a 2 x 2 piece of wood or with a paddle while lying with their faces to the floor. Others are hit while standing with their backs to the ‘mayor.’ This physical abuse also includes forcing the boys to kneel on a chair so that their soles are on the same level and hitting the soles with a piece of wood or with the paddle.

Fifteen boys (78.95 percent) complained being clobbered by the inmates.
Thirteen boys (68.42 percent) said upon entry to the cell their hair was forcibly cut so that they become bald and humiliated.
Twelve of the boys, or 63.15 percent, the food given to them is not fit for human consumption (‘parang pagkain ng baboy’); another five said the food is not enough and another four boys said they do not eat regularly (once or twice only in a day).
Ten boys, or 52.63 percent, complained of lack of sleep because they were festered by mosquitoes, the cells were overcrowded and too filthy. At night, some of the boys (five percent) are assigned as ‘marinarya’ and were forced to stay awake to look after the other inmates and their supplies.
Twelve boys, 63.15 percent, were forced to cling to the metal bars like monkeys for hours the longest being over night.
Fifteen boys (78.95 percent) said they spend days inside the cells. Sixteen boys (84.21 percent) complained of being deprived of physical exercise and sunlight. Three boys (15.79 percent) reported not being allowed to get out of the cell for more than a month.
Twelve boys (63.15 percent) said the jail guards extort or forcibly take money and/or supplies for the boys given to them by relatives who visit them.
Eleven boys (57.89 percent) complained being forced to massage the older inmates and the jail guards while nine boys said they were forced to wash the clothes of older inmates/jail guards.
Ten boys (52.63 percent) reported they were not given medicines and medical attention when they complained of any kind of illness.

Recovered from abuse the children go to school and join the sports festiva

Recovered from abuse the children go to school and join the sports festiva

Combating child prostitution and trafficking. A young 15 year-old Filipino girl, Hazel, was trafficked abroad and

rescued in Malaysia. She is the latest arrival of trafficked and commercially exploited children at Preda. She is now protected, happy and safe and starts a new life free from fear and abuse. Another child, Florence, was abducted when she was 14 and was imprisoned with 6 others in an Angeles City warehouse where they were sold to foreigners and abused, after months all escaped. Florence got a ride to Manila was abused again by the driver and wandered on the streets. Then was picked up by a trafficker, was sold into domestic slavery. She escaped and found her way to safety at the Preda Children’s home. There are 45 girls recovering from abuse and are doing well and most are attending school in the community except the newest arrivals.

With the help of supporters we are planning a new home for these children to be built in a country area with stunning views and a place of peace and quite where they can recover and start a new life. Preda has been appointed a member of the anti-decency Board of Olongapo City to help implement the anti-prostitution ordinance. We helped lobby for that law.

Why we have to do it
Police, government social workers and village leaders seldom respond to reports of child abuse, instead they negotiate a deal with the abusers and the victims parents. The abused and suffering child is ignored. This is especially true in cases of abuse by parents or relatives. It’s a domestic matter they say. We are getting the arrest warrants from the court against the abusers but the police either can’t serve them or some take a payoff from the accused not to do so.

The Preda Human rights team is holding training and awareness building seminars in villages all over the provinces to change this corrupt practice. The Preda Public education team concentrates on seminars for teachers and children in the schools to teach them their rights and how they can safely share their problems and report abuse. We distribute thousands of small purse size laminated info cards and stickers with a hot line number they can contact for rescue and help. Soon we will have a comic book with the same message.

Legal action is the most difficult challenge of all. Uncaring prosecutors seem to be favoring the abusers and do not take action on our formal complaint. Months or even a year can pass without a decision by the prosecutors’ action. If we get a case to court, endless postponements and obstacles are thrown into the path of justice. A case of a child abuser was dismissed because the prosecutor failed to present any witness. This is a tactic to favor the accused, most likely in return for a pay off. We write complaints to the Secretary of Justice and undersecretaries but see little positive change.

Children of Summer camp 2008. There are 46 girls recovering at PREDA.

Children of Summer camp 2008. There are 46 girls recovering at PREDA.


Youth Activities and Training.

There were separate youth summer camps last June for girls and boys. Previous to that they participated in a 3 day sport contest and camped out in the sports complex. Everyone was delighted when they won many prizes. Vocational training classes have begun in a small way for the boys. They learn how to make soap, drive a vehicle and do electric welding and carpentry.

They are also learning to be actors. Their own drama group presents a play based on their life in prison. It is very powerful and they love to act. The group goes with the Preda education team to villages and schools to give seminars and they perform the play there. The older boys 15 of them are living at the new boys home on the Preda organic farm called New Dawn opened in March this year. They are learning to grow organic food. The home is a 35 minute drive from the Preda Center. This will be the site of the New Boys home to be built soon. We can rescue many more when it is available as many as sixty can live in a dignity.

PREDA-AKBAY theater group at National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia.

PREDA-AKBAY theater group at National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia.

PREDA-AKBAY theater group at National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia.
had a fantastic 6 week tour in Europe earlier this year advocating children’s rights and showing the realities and the terrible exploitation and abuse suffered by victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. After 5 weeks on the continent they had a great welcome and audience in Poole, Winchester and a thousand people audience in Southampton. They were supported by the Evangelical, Anglican and Catholic churches in these towns. They traveled to Ireland and had a great welcome in Ennis and Galway where they had a happy time.

New projects
A child nutritional meal program delivers a quality meal and healthy snacks to 50 impoverished and hungry children at a local school in Olongapo city. Former street kids stay off the street thanks to an Irish project “The Philippine Human Development Fund”,

The Preda Fair Trade has expanded its social development assistance for the education of the children of mango and pineapple workers and farmers in mango producing cooperatives in the Davao area, Mindanao. Hundreds of children will now get better quality schooling US$11,000 annually (€7500 or £6000). From the mango project, good people who support PREDA Fair Trade are bringing happiness and dignity to those who need it most.

 

Tree planting with indigenous people & kids at Preda
Tree planting with indigenous people & kids at Preda

Tree Planting

 

Another important project of Preda Fair Trade working with communities of indigenous people is the planting of a mixed variety of trees including fruit trees to restore the bio-diversity of the denuded mountains. This reduces the effect of global warming. This rainy season, from July to September, a total of 2,398 grafted mango saplings (at least one meter tall) have been planted together with eight Indigenous People’s communities benefiting 282 families.

This is helping to strengthen their claim to their ancestral lands. The onslaught of mining companies grabbing ancestral land with the connivance of corrupt government officials is damaging the natural habitat and brings no benefits only loss to the rightful inhabitants. Preda is helping them organize themselves to protect their rights and allow only responsible mining that protects the environment. For the long term survival of their villages and culture Preda is also helping them to have the lands surveyed and titled.

DOCUMENTARIES FOR TV
There were four documentaries made by and television stations. The latest being a investigative report on Incest that focused on the human condition of a few of the children in the Preda’s children’s home where 20 of the children are victims of the most horrific form of abuse. Al Jazzera, a international news channel based in the Middle East covered the story of the children in Jail, boys and girls, and the work of Preda to release and care for them. Our partners Cordaid and Tatort and Misereor made video reports on the projects. The identities of the children were protected of course. Numerous newspaper stories and radio interviews were given in Europe last May and June during the tour of the Preda-Akbay youth theater group as also in Sydney.

We thank you all for your generous support and commitment to protect the children.

Father Shay Cullen, Alex Hermoso and the Preda team

Please 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

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