An abused Filipino child who lived off a garbage dump has won a prestigious children’s award for the work of his ‘Championing Community Children’ charity, which benefits his fellow street kids.
Cris “Kesz” Valdez, aged 13, was handed this year’s International Children’s Peace Prize at a glittering ceremony in The Hague on Wednesday, where he received a $130,000 prize presented by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
He was severely abused and forced to scavenge at the dumpsite to pay for his father’s drugs and alcohol. He ran away from home at age 4. Trying to survive in the only way he knew how, by scavenging at the landfill, he sustained major burns on his arm and back, falling into a tire fire. But, he found help from a local Christian group, that paid for his medical treatment and took him in. He then transformed his own experiences into a drive to help other street children, inspired on his seventh birthday to give gifts– flip-flops, small toys, and candy –rather than receive more for himself.
Now, with the help of dozens of volunteers, his annual birthday drives deliver clothing, gifts and supplies to the forgotten children living in landfills. He also educates the orphans about hygiene, reads them stories, and treats their wounds. Above all, he gives them hope.
He has already helped more than 10,000 filipino children, a fraction of those who are either living homeless or forced into labor.
“To everyone in the world, please remember that every day, 6,000 children die from diseases associated with poor sanitation, poor hygiene, and we can do something about it!” he says on his Facebook page. “Please join me in helping street children achieve better health and better lives.”
(WATCH the video below, or READ about Kesz’s amazing transformation in VOA News)
Thanks to Steve G. for sending the story idea!