Cris “Kesz” Valdez was once just another homeless boy among thousands in the Phillipines, but now he’s the winner of the $130,000 International Children’s Peace Prize.
Along with the money, Valdez was given the Nkosi (pictured), described as “a unique sculpture which shows how a child can move the world.”
The Huffington Post reports that Valdez spent many years living off a trash dump and sleeping in a tomb. At the age of just seven, however, Valdez announced that he didn’t want any presents for his birthday. Rather he said he wanted to help others, and that was the birth of Championing Community Children, a charity started by the young Valdez to help other homeless children.
Yahoo News reports that Cris and his charity have helped about 10,000 kids, distributing flip-flops, toys, sweets, and clothes in Cavite City, located 18 miles south of the capital Manila.
Valdez received the award at a ceremony in The Hague and the award was presented by Anglican Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu called the 13-year old homless boy a “a new voice for the voiceless.”
“My message to all children around the globe is; our health is our wealth,”Valdez writes on the awards’ official website. “Being healthy will enable you to play, to think clearly, to get up and go to school and love the people around you in so many ways. To everyone in the world, please remember that every day, 6,000 children die from diseases associated with poor sanitation, poor hygiene, and we can do something about it! Please join me in helping street children achieve better health and better lives.”
Most of the award money will be donated into Valdez’ charity. Valdez, now much more than just another homeless boy, hopes to one day get an education and become a doctor.