Tag Archives: Trafficking of children

[People] Discovering Human Dignity -by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Children

Discovering Human Dignity
Shay Cullen
9 January 2021

When I see the newly arrived children- all victims of human right violations and sexual abuse- healing and recovering in our Preda Foundation home and striving to be “good,” to be a “better person”, somehow thinking they are “bad,” I and the Preda staff continuously tell them in Filipino that: “You are good children and youth. You have done no wrong, you are innocent victims of bad people who trafficked and abused you.”

It takes a long while for them to understand this. Then, the day arrives when they have had their fifth or sixth session of Emotional Release Therapy. That is where they dramatically confront their abusers in the padded therapy room and fight back at their rapist. They shout his name, cry and scream at him and pound the cushions as if beating him. They are tearing free from the fear and subjugation they endured. In time, they have a new self-understanding. It is an emotional resurrection, the greatest moment of liberation in their lifetime.

They come to realize that they are good persons and have been exploited and abused. Sandra, a 13-year-old, who was repeatedly raped and beaten by her biological father, told how she felt in a group session after her therapy, “I feel free from them, I can live on my own, I see now what is true, I have my dignity”,

The children have broken free from the culture of servility and domination and being downtrodden, and discovered the most important of all. They discovered they have that vital and all-important inherent value of all humanity- human dignity. They have been brainwashed and told all their lives in the slums, living in poverty, without proper education, that they are of little worth, of no value and are better out earning money with their bodies. The younger ones are abused and threatened to tell no one of the sexual abuse. They are told that they did a bad thing and are made to feel guilty and dirty and are wrongly made ashamed of themselves. But from open emotional expression comes freedom and a sense of self-confidence and self-worth and empowerment from knowing that they have dignity and that their dignity has imbued them with inalienable rights.

Human dignity is the greatest value in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It was neglected, ignored and lost for thousands of years. In fact, the word itself was lost until recent history. The idea, concept or belief in human dignity as an ‘inherent or unearned worth of humans’ was not even used in any official or government document, researchers say, until it appeared by chance in the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Then, it was a vague reference to human value. The word only appeared in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified by the United Nations. In the introduction, the word is used twice to justify why humans have inalienable rights. That humans have these rights is an idea, a concept, based on the belief that the human species has an ‘inherent or unearned worth of humans’ above all other creatures and species on the planet.

Until the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came in to force in the membership nations that made up the United Nations, many countries without a fair and human rights-based legal system frequently treated people as disposable items by those in power and authority. That authority was absolute, unquestionable, and every person was at its mercy without respect or recourse.

The abominations, atrocities and genocide of World War II gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as humanity realized that without the recognition of the dignity of the human person, and their rights arising from it enforced in law and practice, they didn’t have a chance to survive the rise of fascist authoritarian regimes.

The principles and the rights laid out by the Declaration has been universally accepted and recognized by most nations, on paper at least. Many regimes ignore the rights and dignity of their citizens that must be treated with respect, equality, and human value as enshrined in the Declaration and to be enforced and implemented by Rule of Law.

There is international action, condemnation and protest when the violations of human rights and human dignity are violated. Protests, demonstrations, marches, social media campaigns raise their voice to denounce the violations although much more has to be done.

The imposition of UN sanctions and the deployment of peace-keeping troops and the indictments of the International Criminal Court of Justice are some ways the world community can bring an erring regime to accountability and yet the massacres, child sexual abuse, violations and trampling on human dignity and rights continue unabated. Just as corrupt politicians, criminal gangs, drug cartel leaders and mafia bosses are the killers and tramplers of human rights, so too are the many individuals who abuse children and their enablers and protectors. It is only in our generation in the last twenty years that there has been an outcry and movement to condemn child sexual abuse and human trafficking and enact strict laws to bring abusers to account and to jail.Tolerance, apathy, indifference, secret approval of child abuse was the custom and in many places it still is. In the Philippines, life sentences are frequently handed down to child sex abusers and human traffickers. The strict laws, driven through congress by civil society, are most important in doing justice for the victims of these heinous crimes against children.

Let us not forget where human dignity, respect for human rights of children and women, were first announced and taught. It was by that inspired man, the prophetic Jesus of Nazareth, who constantly championed the rights of children and declared the child as the most important in his planned society of justice, equality, dignity and peace. To accept and respect the child was to accept him. That is a strong endorsement of human dignity of the most vulnerable in society.


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[People] Reggie’s flight to freedom. Fr.Shay Cullen

Reggie’s flight to freedom.
Fr.Shay Cullen

As if the upheaval,death and destruction of Typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda)was not enough suffering for up to a million survivors human disasters are still ongoing and we are trying to protect children and orphans from exploiters and traffickers. We sounded the alarm months ago and we are still very active in preventing hurt and healing the victims.


Reggie, 17, a victim of human trafficking from a remote village in Bogo, Northern Cebu, one of the towns badly affected by the most powerful typhoon (Haiyan/Yolanda) in history to hit land. Desperate for a job to get food for his hungry family and grandmother, he was lured by criminal human traffickers to join a large fishing boat with six other victims.

After many days of hard work day and night, the fishing boat made land in Batangas port on Southern Luzon Island to sell the big catch. They helped off- load the fish. To their shock the boys,several of them minors, were not paid but ordered back to the boat. They refused and ran away from these harsh conditions.

Reggie found his way to Metro Manila after walking for almost two days carrying his few pieces of old clothes in a yellow plastic bucket that was his only possession. He begged for food along the way.

Arriving in Manila, instead of getting help and protection from the authorities, he received additional misery and hardship when he was taken off the street for being a vagrant and was put into a youth detention prison in Pasay, Metro Manila. There Preda social workers ,rescuing other children, found him behind bars malnourished,hungry and forced to sleep on the concrete floor in an mosquito infested cell that was as hot as a boiler room.

He was left there and forgotten without a legal complaint or charge made against him or a court hearing. Thats the plight and injustice suffered by thousands of children around the country. Our campaign to change the system is meeting stiff resistance.

There was no one to listen to Reggie’s story or help him. He was left in the jail with other youth,some as young ten years of age in sub-human conditions. Every day, he survived on only a handful of rice and a spoon of vegetables as his daily food.

He felt abandoned, lost and very frightened and threatened by the bigger boys who controlled life in the cells and took most of the food for themselves and made the younger ones wash their shorts and T-shirts and forced them to sexually comfort them.

His day of release was a happy one for him. He almost cried when brought out from detention by Preda social worker Emmanuel Drewery and father Shay and was taken immediately to a restaurant for a good meal as he was famished, malnourished, weak and depressed.

This is the first time I have ever eaten in a restaurant², he told them.
He grew up in an impoverished village in the remote part of Northern Cebu island which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda). It was that extreme poverty that drove him to look for work on the fishing boat where he was put into forced, unpaid labor.

After his rescue, he asked to stay at the Preda Boy¹s home where he was happy and recovered his physical and emotional strength. He joined the other lucky forty youths who were also released from horrific unhygienic and psychologically damaging conditions of bare jails and prisons by the Preda Foundation workers. They got a court transfer order by writing to the judge.

They were jailed by police without charges or for what amounts to a misdemeanor like stealing food but greatly exaggerated and made appear to be robbery so the policeman could meet his quota or get a promotion.

Reggie was free and loved to play basketball and go swimming with the other boys there in the no-gates ,no-guards open living home staffed by nursers and social workers. Troubled youths don’t rebel when they are respected and properly cared for. Reggie was free of the traffickers but had suffered greatly because of them and the uncaring authorities.

After several months of recovery and rest at the Preda Home for Boys, he was ready to travel home and experience his first ever airplane flight which was a great thrill for him. He went with Mr. Francis Bermido, the Preda Executive director and his assistant director Emmanuel Drewery. Besides attending to the administration of all the Preda projects, they frequently join in the field work and direct and supervise the Preda relief and anti-trafficking training seminars in Tacloban and Palo.

There the Preda education and psycho-therapy team are helping hundreds of traumatized survivors cope with the greatest natural disaster to hit the Philippines.

They also distribute thousands of packets of vegetable seeds. to help the small farmers grow food. The greater unnatural disaster is the slew of politicians that are plundering the treasury and stealing the money that could be used to help the victims.

Reggie was thrilled when together, they took a low cost flight on Air Asia and landed in Cebu. Within a few hours of travel through the wrecked countryside of torn up coconut trees and shattered houses Reggie was happily and tearfully reunited with his family.In the middle of such widespread disaster from the typhoon where the trafficking of children and youth is spreading this is one of several happy endings.

Preda Foundation will provide more help to the family of Reggie to help them recover from the losses to their livelihood and the near destruction of their little house. Thanks to the supporters and donors,better times lie ahead with a scholarship for Reggie to finish his education and get good employment. St.Columban’s ,Solihull. B93 9AB shaycullen@preda.org http://www.preda.org

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[Announcement] Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTs) is looking for a Regional Coordinator

Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTs)


Regional Coordinator

Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTs) is a regional network of more than 100 organizations working together to protect all children in Southeast Asia from exploitation and abuse, especially the children on the move including trafficked children. With partners from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, Asia ACTs collaborates with various organizations and agencies at the international, regional, national, and community levels to fulfill its vision for a good life for all children in Southeast Asia wherein their rights are fully respected, promoted, and protected.

About the Role

The Regional Coordinator serves as the head of the Regional Secretariat. S/he works closely with the Board and Country Focal Points to implement the strategic goals and objectives of the network.

The Regional Coordinator will be based in Quezon City, Philippines with frequent international and domestic travels.

Duties and Responsibilities:
 Strategize with the board, country partners, and staff about the network’s growth and development
 Research for funding opportunities and establish strategies to approach and attract funders
 Conceptualize project proposals with financial budget requests
 Oversee the project design, its quality, and implementation
 Help in capacitating the network for the implementation and sustenance of programs
 Manage the network’s resources in accordance with general accounting procedures and requirements of funding agencies
 Manage the human resources of the network and ensure the network’s compliance with its child protection policy
 Create and maintain linkages with other sectors through networking
 Promote the network and project positive representation to the media, government agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders

 Fluency in English
 Knowledgeable in issues and in the dynamics of the Southeast Asian countries
 Has contacts with other organizations (local, regional and international)
 Networking skills
 Excellent communication (written and verbal) and lobbying skills
 Organizational and project management skills
 Experience in dealing with a multi-cultural setting
 Experience in child protection for at least 3 years
 Willing to travel and work full-time
 A Filipino national

How to Apply:
Interested applicants must send a Curriculum Vitae together with an Application Letter and Three (3) References to asiaacts@pldtdsl.net and hazelyn.bitana@gmail.com.
The closing date for application is on August 15, 2012.
Asia ACTs

Rm. 312, Philippine Social Science Center, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: (632) 9290822 Fax: (632) 9290820 Email: asiaacts@pldtdsl.net http://www.asia-acts.org

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