The rights of street children
Started his own organization C3 to support street children
Cavite City, Phillippines
In the Philippines life was tough for Kesz and his family. When he was only 2 years old, Kesz was sent out by his abusive father to collect garbage to earn money. When he was 4 years old, he ran away from home and ended up on the streets. He tried to survive on the dumpsite by collecting garbage and did not have the opportunity to go to school.
One day, Kesz got seriously injured when he fell into a burning pile of garbage at the dumpsite. A social worker helped Kesz and took him to the hospital. From then on, the social worker took care of Kesz and became his legal guardian. For the first time in his life, Kesz had enough food and clothing, he went to school, and he felt safe.
Kesz: “Falling into the fire left me seriously injured…but it has also been my salvation. I used to know nothing; I thought it was perfectly normal to have festering wounds on your feet. I’ve learned a lot since moving here”.
Kesz never forgot the children he left behind on the streets of Cavite City. On his 7th birthday, he chose to give gifts to the street children instead of asking for anything himself. He asked for slippers to be distributed to the street children, so that they would no longer cut their feet.
This is how ‘Gifts of Hope’ was born. It was the first step in his activism for children’s rights. He brought the street children boxes of hope and happiness with toys, sweets and clothes. His Gifts of Hope inspired many others to join in, and it has become an annual event. Although the first time they ‘only’ distributed seven boxes, C3 can now hand out almost a thousand boxes every year.
In 2006, Kesz started his own organization: Championing Community Children (C3). An organization that not only distributes Gifts of Hope, but also provides information about children's rights, nutrition and hygiene. Because of his own experience, Kesz knows exactly what kind of information and supplies street children need to survive.
The street children live on dumpsites and in open sewers, are very hungry and do not have access to health care. They are vulnerable to diseases and infections. Knowing this, Kesz makes it a priority to teach street children how to stay clean, brush their teeth and clean their wounds. To make the effect great and lasting, children are trained to teach each other. In this way the network is enlarged from the inside
"One is never too young to do something to help and meet a need."
Supported by the KidsRights Care and Study fund, Kesz completes his high school in 2018. He continues his education in the Netherlands! At the United World College in Maastricht.
KidsRights empowers Kesz as a changemaker for street children. Through his organization, C3, he continues to inspire children with his message; it does not matter what your background is, it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, young or old, everyone can make a difference.
KidsRights helps Kesz in his fight for the rights of street children by supporting various projects in the Philippines with the Children’s Peace Prize Fund 2012. KidsRights joined forces with Kesz his own organization C3, and has supported two other local organizations to provide street children in the Philippines with medical care, education and protection. In addition, work has been done to improve living conditions by raising awareness on health, children's rights and child participation in society. One of the projects, in which the children are given a basic education so that they can eventually enroll in formal education, has been further expanded by the government and UNESCO because of the great results.
"Let’s change the world, one heart at a time."
Kesz is a founding member of The KidsRights Youngsters; a unique youth-led advocacy and awareness raising platform of the International Children’s Peace Prize winners, that aims to realize children’s rights, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As leading young changemakers, they act locally, speak out to world leaders, influence policy, and engage children and young people worldwide.
In December 2016, KidsRights, Nobel Peace Laureates, leaders, children, and youth from all around the world, gathered in New Delhi to end violence against children. Kesz, co- KidsRights Youngster Om Prakash and peers from the Philippines and India attended the Summit. Kesz inspired the attendees at the opening session: “Decision-makers should listen to us and learn from our experiences, to ensure health, a safe home and education for all. It is therefore so very important that we are here today to find the right solutions to stop violence against children. Let's help change this world one heart at a time!”
The Global Partnership to end Violence Against Children has been initiated by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to prevent violence, protect children, and help make societies safe for children. KidsRights, together with other organizations, was involved to support the child participation component of the partnership. KidsRights Youngsters Kesz and Keita, were featured in the promotional video as young champions to attract and inspire others to stand up for violence against children.