John Blaney, a primary school teacher in Birmingham, recalls the Invitation to Mission group visit to the PREDA Foundation and their home for boys rescused from abuse and trafficking, on day 7 of their mission exposure in the Philippines.
Then, after lunch, we travelled to meet the boys with anticipation and, for me, perhaps, a little trepidation. How would the recently imprisoned ‘kids behind bars’ , react to the so very different home environment provided by PREDA?
Of course, there was no need to worry. The 35 boys live happily with a great amount of freedom – there are no cells nor prison walls now. This new found freedom gives them the confidence to make a key choice, that is: to leave or stay and make a go of it …and they choose to stay with PREDA.
Through a wholistic, nurturing approach provided by highly trained, empathetic and loving staff, they are educated and cared for, and taught vocational skills of their choosing, for example, in electrical installation, mechanics and welding (the latter soon to be launched). Their mental health needs are prioritised through counselling and therapy which helps them to release pent up trauma safely.
The boys, ranging in in age from 6 to 16 years (at the time of our visit), are just boys: full of energy, curiosity and fun! They joined in with the games we introduced to them with vigour of any child of their age. It was gratifying to see them play so cooperatively and happily. Perhaps their goal for the day was to welcome and please the Columban Invitation to Mission group. If so, they succeeded! We, for our part, were hopeful to show them that we loved and valued them as unique, beautiful children created in God’s image.
The PREDA Foundation shows no sign of slowing down or compromising its vision to empower such children to rebuild their lives. The ultimate aim of PREDA is to place the children back within their families. Their former lives on the streets of Manila and other cities are over. God bless these children. God bless the PREDA staff for the great work they do in providing hope, peace and justice to the abused children of the Philippines.
Coming soon… the I2M group visit the PREDA home for girls and an indigenous Aeta village producing PREDA fairtrade mangoes.
Find out more about the PREDA Foundation