Cris “Kesz” Valdez is the 2012 International Children's Peace Prize Awardee. At age 13, his “Championing Community Children” charity raises funds by selling candles to give “Hope Gifts” (packages with slippers, toys, candies, clothing and basic needs) to the needy children of Cavite City. He has already helped about 10,000 Filipino children, the majority of which are subjected to abuse, violence, and child labor. He provides aid on health and hygiene, as well as on children's rights.
Nobel Peace laureate, South African activist and retired Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu handed him the award and said that Valdez is a deserving and inspiring example of "a new voice for the voiceless." In an interview with ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, Tutu said “For the Philippines, you may have difficulties but those difficulty seem to keep producing outstanding young people like Kesz (Carlos Valdez) which give hope that nothing ultimately can defeat us and we want to congratulate him very very warmly on the success of his undertaking”.
Valdez, who received a 100,000 euro (PHP 5.4 million) worth of college scholarship and a platform for advocacy at a ceremony in The Hague, plans to get a degree in medicine in the future.
At age 3, Valdez was like any other street child who begged on the streets and rummaged through garbage bins to find valuables which he could sell to support his family. At age 5, he sustained burns on his arms and back and decided to run away and look for help.
His life and perspective started to change when he met a stranger. Efren Peñaflorida's “Kariton” classroom served as his access to education. At age 11, he was the youngest volunteer at Peñaflorida's Dynamic Teen Company where he taught about proper hygiene until he was able to put up a foundation of his own.
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