CAVITE CITY, Cavite – Officials are set to render a hero’s welcome for 13-year-old Cris “Kesz’ Valdez who is now 100,000 euro (P5.44 million) richer after topping the recently concluded 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize (ICPP) in The Hague, Netherlands.
Kesz, the so-called “Wonder Boy” from a slum neighborhood in Barangay 48, Julian Felipe Boulevard, is tentatively set to arrive in Manila on September 29 (Saturday) in time for the national celebration of Children’s Month in October.
Tourism Coordinator Remedios S. Ordoñez said Mayor Romeo G. Ramos will lead the hero’s welcome and citation program for Kesz on his arrival in the city.
Ordoñez said that Kesz was already a popular boy in the city before he was named as ICCP winner.
Kesz, who just graduated Grade VI at Estansuela Elementary School in Caridad (Cavite City), is a protégé of Von Manalaysay, founder of Club 8586, a children’s bible study group; and Efren G. Peñaflorida, who was adjudged 2009 CNN Hero with his famous “Kariton Klasrum” (Pushcart Clasroom).
“They (Manalaysay, Peñaflorida, Kesz) and some other youth are the ‘wonder group’ in the city who have been helping the underprivileged children in the city. Kesz has been under the care of Manalaysay and Peñaflorida,” said Ordonez.
Kesz won the prestigious ICCP award in The Hague last Wednesday for his vision and action in improving the rights and lives of his fellow-street children in his home city.
The boy made the moves even as he came from an underprivileged family and has lived at a dumpsite and nearby cemetery in the city.
The Cavite provincial government is also set to cite and honor Kesz in a Monday flag ceremomy at the Capitol in Trece Martires City. The Sangguniang Panglalawigan (Provincial Board) is also expected to pass a resolution citing Kesz’s sterling performance and accomplishment.
The Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that of the three nominated children who have all made extraordinary efforts in the area of children’s rights, the Expert Committee of the Dutch foundation KidsRights selected Kesz as the winner.
Kesz was chosen for the work of his “C3” (Championing Community Children) which raises funds to hand out gift parcels to needy children in Cavite City. (Anthony Giron)
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