A 13 year old Filipino boy who lived at a dump site and slept in an open tomb has won a prestigious children’s award in the Netherlands for his work to develop and improve the rights of 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 last Wednesday, where he received a 100,000 euro ($130,000) as a prize.
Cris “Kesz” Valdez was chosen from 3 finalists for the work of his “Championing Community Children” charity which raises funds to hand out gift packages to needy children in Cavite City, Philippines about 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the capital Manila.
Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, who handed over this year’s prize, told Valdez at a press conference – “You are wonderful,” shortly after the ceremony, held in The Hague’s historic Knight’s Hall.
“My message to children around the world is not to lose hope” and to remember things like hygiene, said Valdez, who added that the prize would help him get an education and perhaps realise his dream of becoming a doctor.
Through his charity, Valdez has handed out more than 5,000 gifts to needy children that included everyday necessities like flip-flops (slippers), toys, sweets and clothes, according to the Kids Rights Foundation, the prize’s initiator.
In all, he has helped some 10,000 children in his area on health, hygiene and children’s rights, the foundation stated.
Some 246,000 street children are, like Valdez was as a young child, subjected to abuse, violence and child labor in the Philippines, it said.
When asked about the prize money, Kids Rights Foundation chairman Marc Dullaert said a committee was now to decide, together with Valdez, to which projects it would be donated.
Archbishop Tutu, the South African peace icon who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize is in the Netherlands for a nine-day visit.