This year’s Shalom Peace Prize laureate is Father Shay Cullen. On May 6th, he will be honored for his project PREDA – People’s Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance. The ceremony will take place in Eichstätt and is open to public.
PREDA was founded in 1974 by Shay Cullen, an Irish priest, and two human rights activists – all living in the Philippines. Their work focusses explicitly on fighting the existing poverty: families are able to receive an income through the farming and selling of organic mangos. Fair trade in Germany allows to achieve appropriate prices for a life in dignity. In addition, chicken breeding and the cultivation of vegetables and bananas contribute to an independent life.
One of the main aims is to support victims of sexual violence. In the city of Olongapo PREDA has therefore built a home for children, adolescents, and especially for traumatized and abused young women and girls, whom are offered medical and psychological support.
In 2013, special attention was given to the case of an US citizen named Arthur Benjamin. He was the manager of a „bar“, where underaged girls were forced to prostitution. Shay Cullen and his organization had already kept an eye on him, because they suspected Benjamin to be involved in human trafficking and abuse. In collaboration with the „National Bureau of Investigation“ and the „United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement“, they were able to arrest Arthur Benjamin and sent him into investigative custody.
For this and similar incidents, supporters and relatives of the convicted consistently attempt to undermine PREDA’s efforts: as soon as a child is freed by the social workers around Father Shay Cullen, they are accused of kidnapping. Moreover, when it comes to abuse, the accused speak of libel. However, all their accusations proved to be unfounded in court.
The deliberate defamation of PREDA’s work is nothing new for Shay Cullen: »It would be unusual, if after 43 years of defending human rights and bringing suspects to justice I did not create critics.«
The working group (Arbeitskreis) Shalom is hence very proud to award Father Shay Cullen with the Shalom Peace Prize and thanks him for his tireless engagement in the service of justice.
If you would like to support PREDA, please follow this link; further information about the project can be found on our current Shalom flyer.