- (Photo: REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)
After spending the greater part of his life on the streets, Cris "Kesz" Valdez is now $130,000 richer thanks to his generous heart.
Valdez, 13, has had to scavenge for food since he was two years old. Born in the Philippines, Valdez has a heart wrenching story about his survival on the streets where a coffin was called home.
"All I can remember is misery and darkness. I remember my father beating me," Kesz says in a short documentary during which he tells his story. "I had to make money so he could buy alcohol and drugs."
At the age of four, Kesz ran away from home to escape the abuse. Joining many other street children, he made an attempt to live at the dumpsite, but at some point fell into a burning tire pit where he suffered severe injuries. Forced to reach out for help, Kesz met the man that would one day become his guardian.
On his first birthday celebration, at the age of 7, Kesz decided what he wanted most was gifts for other children who were still living on the street.
"I did not have a lot of money … but I had a lot of love to give," Kesz explains.
That day was the birth of Kesz's organization, Championing Community Children. Since, over a dozen other volunteers have joined alongside Kesz. Part of Kesz's work includes educating the local community children, nursing their wounds, teaching them about their rights and hygiene, and of course offering them hope.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last week Kesz was awarded the Children's Peace Prize, an honor that included a $130,000 check, much of which will go back to his charitable cause.
"My message to children around the world is not to lose hope," Kesz remarked. To this day his organization has helped over 10,000 kids. In the future Kesz hopes to get an education as well, in order to become a doctor and help even more people.