Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dump picker wins Peace Prize

Since this blog now enjoys readers from as far away as Saudi Arabia, Australia, Russia and France, we will sometimes reach beyond the United States to find "Crumbs of Comfort." Today's crumb comes from Cavite City in the Philippines. That's where Cris "Kesz" Valdez' father forced him from age two to scavenge dump sites. He used any money his son found to buy drugs and alcohol. and beat him if he came home empty-handed. At age four, Kesz ran away, sleeping with other kids in an open tomb in the cemetery. Three years later, while scavenging a dump site, he fell into burning tires and was injured. A social worker named Harnin Manalaysay rescued him, nursed him back to health and adopted him. Kesz never had a birthday party until 2005, when he was seven. He refused any presents for himself, giving small gifts to street children instead.  When still a pre-teen, he organized a charity called Championing Community Children. As shown here, Kesz distributes "hope gifts" including clothes, toothbrushes, flip flops and toys to street kids. So far his organization has distributed over 10,000 "hope gifts."

                                                Kesz dresses a homeless child's leg injury.                        Courtesy photo

In 2012, Kesz' work was recognized by the International Children's Peace Prize, granting $130,000 to invest in his program. He received the award from Desmond Tutu. Accepting the prize, Kesz spoke to homeless children around the world. "Our health is our wealth! Being healthy will enable you to play, think clearly, get up and go to school, and love the people around you." Now 16, Kesz wants to be a doctor and give other street children the love he received from his adopted Dad, Harnin Manalaysay. "I want children of the streets to get the same chance I had," he says. To watch a brief inspiring video about Kesz, visit

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