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IMPACT HERO 2018

 

John-Pierre Montilla

 

Founder, Gabay Foundation (formerly Kabataang Gabay sa Positibong Pamumuhay (Peers for Positive Living))

Philippines

 

  • An unwanted child, ran away from home to escape abuse
  • Fell victim to the dangerous world of drugs, crime, and child prostitution
  • Finally rescued by a government organization after 12, long years
  • Formed a non-profit group dedicated to help runaway youths build life skills to prevent drugs, crime, further abuse and HIV

John-Pierre’s Story

A survivor who escaped a dark and uncertain future
as a street child, John-Pierre now supports
more than 8000 youth so they can do the same

John-Pierre was born on the island of Negros into a wealthy family of sugar barons. However, his home was never the safe haven a child deserves. He endured repeated violence and maltreatment at a young age. Whenever he found a chance, John-Pierre would run away to escape the abuse he faced at home. However, still a young boy, John-Pierre would be found and taken back, every time.

 

Determined to run away from this abuse for good, John-Pierre became a street youth at the tender age of 14. He found a temporary job, but eventually moved to a different island in order to put distance between himself and his unhappy home. On this new island, knowing no-one and living on the streets, the young John-Pierre was an easy target for people looking to exploit his situation. Lured by the promise of food and shelter, he found himself coerced into facilitating drug transactions for a criminal syndicate and entering the world of child prostitution in order to earn money. John-Pierre spent 12 years in this dark world until he sought help with a governmental organization.

 

Thanks to this intervention, John-Pierre was finally able to attend university on a scholarship from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. In 1998, whilst still a student, he started an initiative to save young people who found themselves involved in drugs and prostitution in order to survive, just as he had once experienced.

 

Now, 20 years later, the organization has expanded to 16 chapters across the country. John-Pierre is providing much needed services to support these vulnerable youths, spending almost all of his government income on the organization.

John-Pierre’s Mission in the Philippines and Asia

 

Prostitution, drug trafficking, violence…
Saving abandoned youths from a vicious spiral

Although the Filipino government has recognised the severity of the issue of street children and established various support systems, the very people they are trying to support do not trust them. John-Pierre, on the other hand, has both the credibility and experience. He took over a program initiated by the government and established it as an independent organization. Its mission is to save street children who have been neglected, abandoned, or left behind by their parents and have fallen victim to violence, drugs, crime, exploitation or slavery, referring them to relevant rehabilitation programs.

 

John-Pierre drew from his own experiences to develop an effective program that ensures that the young people he works with are able to regain their self-confidence, sense of self-worth and basic human dignity. He finds and mentors street children out of the government’s reach through this program. His work was twice recognised as one of the “Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO)” in the Philippines, while the River of Life Initiatives (RoLi) was recognized as a case study of good practice by the UN World Health Organization in 2014.

 

It is worth noting that most of the support programs provided by the government and other organizations are targeted at helping young women, and John-Pierre’s initiative is rare in focusing on supporting young men and boys who are also victims, but have little in the way of support.

 

Established under the auspices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in 1998, it became independent from the government in 2005. The organization has now expanded to 16 chapters across the country, serving over 8000 youths.

At A Glance

IMPACT HERO 2018

John-Pierre Montilla

 

Active In
The Philippines

 

Organization
Gabay Foundation (formerly Kabataang Gabay sa Positibong Pamumuhay (Peers for Positive Living))

 

Size of Gabay Foundation Membership
8,000

 

Mission
To give street children who have fallen victim to violence, drugs, crime, exploitation or slavery a second chance at life

 

Support Starts
Jan 2018

 

Duration of Support
3 Years
John-Pierre’s Mission in the Philippines
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Prostitution, drug trafficking, violence…
Saving abandoned youths from a vicious spiral

 

Although the Filipino government has recognised the severity of the issue of street children and established various support systems, the very people they are trying to support do not trust them, thus rendering government services unreachable to those who need them the most and therefore ineffective. John-Pierre, on the other hand, has both the credibility and experience. He took over a program initiated by the government and established it as an independent organization. Its mission is to save street children who have been neglected, abandoned, or left behind by their parents and have fallen victim to violence, drugs, crime, exploitation or slavery, referring them to relevant rehabilitation programs.

John-Pierre drew from his own experiences to develop an effective program that ensures that the young people he works with are able to regain their self-confidence, sense of self-worth and basic human dignity. He finds and mentors street children out of the government’s reach through this program. His work was twice recognised as one of the “Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO)” in the Philippines, while the River of Life Initiatives (RoLi) was recognized as a case study of good practice by the UN World Health Organization in 2014.

It is worth noting that most of the support programs provided by the government and other organizations are targeted at helping young women, and John-Pierre’s initiative is rare in focusing on supporting young men and boys who are also victims, but have little in the way of support.

Established under the auspices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in 1998, it became independent from the government in 2005, the organization has now expanded to 16 chapters across the country, serving over 8000 youths.

At A Glance

IMPACT HERO 2018

John-Pierre Montilla

 

Active In
The Philippines

 

Organization
Gabay Foundation (formerly Kabataang Gabay sa Positibong Pamumuhay (Peers for Positive Living))

 

Size of Gabay Foundation Membership
8,000

 

Mission
To give street children who have fallen victim to violence, drugs, crime, exploitation or slavery a second chance at life

 

Support Starts
Jan 2018

 

Duration of Support
3 Years

What is happening in the Philippines?

30% of children drop out of primary school,
and about 250,000 kids live on the streets

Although the Philippines has one of the highest GDP growth rates among ASEAN countries – maintaining an annual growth rate of about 6% – the country suffers from a huge wealth gap, with widespread and extreme poverty. Three out of ten children do not graduate primary school because of poverty, and the Philippines’ primary school attendance rate has actually declined compared to 1980, a trend not shared by its ASEAN neighbours.

 

In addition, economic crisis caused by political and social instability in the 70s and 80s led to large-scale migration from rural areas to cities, with slums spreading rapidly in urban areas.
This is one of the big causes behind the country’s estimated 250,000 street children who live, work and sleep on the streets.

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Among this 250,000 are children who become homeless because their parents could no longer afford to provide for them, because they ran away from abusive parents, or because their parents left the country to make a living overseas.

 

Neglected and without a loving home, these children lack educational opportunities and carry great emotional trauma, both of which severely harm their chances at finding formal employment. They struggle to find basic human needs such as food and shelter, and will do anything to survive. For most of them, the only path to survival they can see leads them into the dangerous worlds of theft, child prostitution and drug trafficking, and so they are also more likely to become criminals, drug addicts, or infected with HIV.

 

John-Pierre, having been through this all himself, can understand their pain and distress, and most importantly what kind of support they need. This is why he has chosen to dedicate his life to his organization’s cause.

John-Pierre’s Vision

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Giving at risk children a chance to reclaim their futures

Gabay Foundation’s mission is to 1) take street children off the streets and give them a second chance at life and 2) guide them on their journey to becoming leaders who will one day give back to society and become role models.

Earth Company’s Support

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Though heavily reliant on John-Pierre’s personal salary from the government, Gabay Foundation has been able to support the rehabilitation of 8000 youths. Through a comprehensive package of support including fundraising, marketing, networking, and nonprofit management coaching, Earth Company aims to help John-Pierre to expand the organization’s reach and establish a sustainable financial base.

Earth Company’s Support

IH2018_15

Though heavily reliant on John-Pierre’s personal salary from the government, Gabay Foundation has been able to support the rehabilitation of 8000 youths. Through a comprehensive package of support including fundraising, marketing, networking, and nonprofit management coaching, Earth Company aims to help John-Pierre to expand the organization’s reach and establish a sustainable financial base.