The obstacles seemed insurmountable for a 13-year-old Filipino street kid. Forced to scavenge for his survival from the age of 2, sleep in a coffin and run away to seek help after he was badly injured, Cris “Kesz” Valdez had every reason to merely look out for himself.
But at age 7, he started a foundation, the Championing Community Children charity, to help fellow homeless kids, and his selfless work has been recognized with the $130,000 Children’s Peace Prize.
“You are wonderful,” Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu told the young philanthropist at a ceremony at The Hague.
According to the KidsRights Foundation, Cris has helped about 10,000 kids by distributing flip-flops, toys, sweets and clothes in Cavite City, just 18 miles south of the capital Manila.
“My message to children around the world is not to lose hope,” he said.
Cris also wants to educate them on good hygiene and their rights.
The prize money will go to fund charities of his choosing.
Cris would like to get an education and eventually become a doctor.
Cris’s plight is not unique in his country. About 246,000 street children in the Philippines are subjected to abuse, violence and child labor.