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Former Filipino Street Child Wins International Children's Peace Prize

There aren't many 13 year olds that can boast Noble Peace Laureate, Desmond Tutu presented them with an award for the International Children's Peace Prize, but Kesz Valdez can. On September 19th, Kesz was awarded the prize for his charity Championing Community Children. A former street child used to living among the rubbish in the Philippines, Kesz has led an extraordinary life for a 13 year old.

After his early years were spent suffering at the hands of his father, Kesz ran away and was forced to survive on rubbish scraps in the local dump. A fter a severe incident left him badly burnt he ran away for help and was rescued by Harnin Manalaysay, who later became his guardian. At the age of seven Kesz, already a determined young boy, asked Harnin if instead of birthday presents, he could give gifts to other street children. And so Championing Community Children was born and so far the charity has donated gifts to over 10,000 street children. The main focus for Kesz is educating his peers about hygiene and health. He teaches them to brush their teeth and wash their hands and bodies regularly and hopes some of those he helps will later becomesupporters of the charity.

It was reported on the prize website that Kesz accepted the award with the words: “My message to all children around the globe is; our health is our wealth! Being healthy will enable you to play, to think clearly, to get up and go to school and love the people around you in so many ways. 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! Please join me in helping street children achieve better health and better lives.” He went on to dedicate his award to his savious, Harnin.

The Philippines has around 246,000 children listed as street children who are often subjected to violence, exploitation and poverty. It is with the help of projects like Kesz' that these children are beginning to have a future.