HomeCommentaryPreda Foundation close partner of DSWD for child rights

Preda Foundation close partner of DSWD for child rights

Hundreds of sexually abused and traumatized Filipino children have been rescued and saved by the social workers of the Preda Foundation working closely with the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd). As a result, dozens of sexually abused and trafficked children are referred to the Preda Victoria Children’s Home every year by the government social workers.

Preda social workers welcome the many children and with international partners provide the children with all their personal needs, therapy, care, affirmation, healing, emotional empowerment and legal assistance to bring complaints against their abusers. The Preda home is in a beautiful location surrounded by forest in the Subic countryside.

At present, at least 34 local government units refer children to the Preda Victoria Children’s Home as they have no child care facilities of their own. They depend on Preda Foundation. Preda maintains the highest standards and is one of the few accredited child care centers in the Philippines and is recognized by the UN Anti-Trafficking Fund and the UN Anti-Slavery Fund that support the work.

The USAID, the Embassy of Canada and the German Embassy Manila are supporters, too. Preda also has accreditation by the prestigious Philippine Council of NGO Certification (PCNC) and the Preda executive director is a trained evaluator.

To protect children, the DSWD’s Standards Bureau strictly inspects and monitors social welfare and development agencies (SWDAs), including the Preda homes and other charities, for accreditation purposes. Most of these SWDAs are not government funded but raise their own funds and do their best to meet the highest standards with limited funds and are able to provide the government with child care services free of charge.

Preda has excellent working relationships with municipal social workers, police, prosecutors and judges, working together to restore the dignity and rights of the abused children and deliver them justice and freedom that is their right. The abused child needs protection and professional healing from the trauma of abuse in a safe home. Relatives of the accused traffickers and rapists and even her own family members will try to prevent her from testifying. Five judges in Cebu have this problem and asked Preda Foundation to open a therapeutic home in Cebu for the victims so they can be protected and pursue justice. The provincial government of Cebu has no similar care home there.

The Preda Foundation has received four nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and several prestigious International human rights awards. Its founder, Father Shay Cullen, was invited to meet Pope Francis in the Vatican and Preda senior officers spoke at UN and international advocacy conferences on children’s rights for many years. Besides, they are frequently invited to be public speakers on child rights and laws at many government seminars for teachers and public officials. Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte quoted Preda Foundation at length on the need to protect students from child abusers in schools. Preda Foundation was a national NGO representative on the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee for several years.

- Newsletter -

When the abused children arrive at the Preda Victoria Children’s Home, they are welcomed by the supportive staff and other healed and empowered children that had been rescued and freed by the Preda and municipal social workers. The new arrivals, at least one or two every week, are reassured they are safe and protected from the traffickers. They make friends and overcome their shyness and volunteer to have Emotional Release Therapy. This outpouring frees them from the pain and hurt of being abused. They overcome their trauma and discover their dignity and abilities. They become strong and self-confident to bring charges against their abusers. As a result, every year the children at Preda win an average of 18 convictions. In 2022, alone they won 21 convictions. Their rapists and traffickers got sentences of life in prison.

Preda was founded in 1974 helping boys in conflict with the law and it continues in two other homes.. The girls home opened in 1996 and today, 27 years later around 2,000 children have been saved, healed and reintegrated, some still receiving financial support as part of a Preda aftercare educational assistance.

At present, there are 83 female children in the Victoria Children’s Home from six years old to 18, all in in residence and all victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse. The building is an octagon with a big spacious center hall surrounded by glass-walled transparent offices, a library, counseling room and medical room and public toilets. A stairway leads to five spacious dormitories, a therapy room, and a TV room on the second floor. Here, too, will be a simulated court room where mock trials will familiarize the young children with a courtroom setting so she can give her testimony truthfully, clearly, without intimidation and fear and emotional breakdown.

School time was over and lunch was done. The children had siesta and then returned to the main hall for group activities around 2PM. Karate and dance instructors arrived and were allowed inside the gate.

A group of girls started practicing karate for self-defense. Others were following the moves of the dance instructor, music blared. The small child victims /survivors were playing happily in the large indoor playground. Others were in the library reading books, playing chess or playing with toys. Outside, girls were playing volleyball or others having fun on a swing.

The two babies, a few months old, born at Preda to two 14-year old children were being cuddled by two girls. They are children having children tragically fathered by their own fathers. In the medical room, Doctora Santa Laureola was examining a child while other children waited their turn outside. On the second floor in the TV room girls were practicing a theatre play. They will travel to Germany in August and September 2023 to perform a child rights advocacy drama.

The karate and dancing was over and a big group game of tag started in the main hall. Screams of laughter and surprises erupted as the girls chased each other around a circle of participants. Despite the tragedy they suffered in their young lives, it was wonderful to see these once traumatized and fearful children now happy, free and enjoying a childhood regained.

The Preda professional staff were present supervising the fun and games. Later, the daily life testimony, Gospel reading and evening meal will follow. The children will then watch a video selected for them by the staff.

The success of the Preda Victoria Children’s Home is the outcome of the meaningful and varied daily program of therapeutic learning and inspirational activities. The program is implemented by close coordination and team work between the foundation’s president, Francis Bermido Jr., and Executive Director Emmanuel Drewery and staff who are registered social workers, professional therapists, facilitators and teachers.

The team members work closely and are connected by mobile phone, Messenger and Whatsapp, constantly sending on-the -spot reports that flow constantly to and from the team members. Every event and incident is reported and commented upon, advice is asked and given and action is taken. Then the several meetings during the week between staff and the Executive Committee keeps the program going on course.

When they visit the home, they supervise and manage the activities, inspect the center, and monitor the progress and problems of each child individually with the child’s assigned social worker present and give the children their personal attention.

They listen to the children for any complaints and unattended needs like if they had phone calls to their supporting parents. With social workers present, they help the new arrivals, one by one, to tell their story of abuse and encourage them to write it down in their own hand. This will be the basis of the affidavit of complaint against their abuser.

There are many more activities going on that can’t fit into this article and I will tell you in another article. Report any abuse to Preda Foundation in confidence to +63 9175324453.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

© Copyright LiCAS.news. All rights reserved. Republication of this article without express permission from LiCAS.news is strictly prohibited. For republication rights, please contact us at: [email protected]

Support LiCAS.news

We work tirelessly each day to tell the stories of those living on the fringe of society in Asia and how the Church in all its forms - be it lay, religious or priests - carries out its mission to support those in need, the neglected and the voiceless.
We need your help to continue our work each day. Make a difference and donate today.