Volunteers in: Republic of the Philippines Category: International - Social Justice Organization: Sarnia School of Martial Arts ABOUT THE CANDIDATE: A martial arts expert helps children in the Philippines ward off sexual abuse.
After years of working to prevent sex abuse of children, Jorge de Guzman says he's no closer to understanding why it's so rampant. "I'm not a moralist, but I see insanity in it." Yet he refuses to feel powerless, and has now made stemming the tide of human exploitation his life's work.
Watch a profile of Jorge de Guzman aired on CBC's Connect, November 29, 2010:
The freelance graphic artist, who landed in Sarnia, Ont., after fleeing a dictatorship in the Philippines 35 years ago, is also a martial arts master. In 1976, he founded the Sarnia School of Martial Arts, which operates out of the YMCA, and has been offering free classes for its members ever since. What began with four students has grown to an average of 250 a week in various locations, with a special focus on children and women.
Listen to a profile of Jorge de Guzman by CBC Radio reporter Avery Moore:
In 1999, his life took a drastic turn when his mentor in Japan asked him to travel to Thailand with him to help save children from the sex trade. "He told me, 'I'll show you what I do on my holidays!' He took me to a hospital where a girl, a victim of sexual abuse, was dying. She'd been found on the street after a vibrator exploded inside her. She passed away, and I said to myself, I'll never let this happen on my watch."
That started de Guzman on a path as an overseas abuse prevention volunteer. With nine missions under his belt, and another scheduled for 2011, de Guzman takes teams from his Sarnia School to teach prevention in remote areas in the Philippines. "We go to these places because they're rampant for procuring girls for prostitution and domestic help." Many are also bartered by parents to pay off debt, he says; others go willingly, thinking they're supporting families.
Held mostly in schools, seminars run by de Guzman's team can teach 800 to a 1,000 students at a time. Children are warned about being lured into trafficking, and the essentials of self-protection are instilled. "We teach them how to say no, how to get out of a stressful situation like abduction, how to recognize any form of abuse." They're also taught how to block, punch and kick--and how and when to run. "I tell them, if you think you're going to be sold tomorrow, run away today!"
Listen as Canadian Jorge de Guzman takes us on one of his missions to teach girls how to protect themselves (from CBC Radio's Dispatches):
De Guzman has also had some harrowing experiences of his own. He's rescued 12 children from prostitution by posing as a client in undercover aid operations, and in Thailand was put under house arrest for conducting a seminar for sex workers. While he admits to some despair about how widespread the problem is, he also says his services are in demand. "And that's definitely a hopeful sign." --Deborah Sanborn
Jorge est concepteur graphique de profession, mais les arts martiaux sont sa véritable passion. Il est entraîneur certifié de Jiu Jitsu, d'Aïkido et de Kung Fu. En 1999, sa route a croisé celle d'une jeune prostituée qui était en train de mourir des suites d'une agression sexuelle brutale. Depuis cette rencontre déterminante, Jorge a fait sienne la mission d'enseigner aux enfants à risque comment se protéger contre les agressions sexuelles.
Jorge voyage maintenant aux Philippines, au Laos, au Cambodge et en Thaïlande afin d'enseigner aux jeunes filles les principes d'autodéfense en les sensibilisant et en les initiant aux arts martiaux. Lors de son plus récent voyage en août 2010, il a ainsi enseigné les rudiments des arts martiaux à plus de 5 000 élèves.
Son travail auprès des enfants pour leur permettre de reprendre le contrôle de leur vie a cependant des conséquences défavorables dans le contexte asiatique. En effet, selon Jean-Paul Deschamps, qui a proposé sa candidature, « Jorge a été placé en résidence surveillée pendant sept jours et s'est fait confisquer son uniforme et sa ceinture à Bangkok parce qu'il avait organisé un séminaire de sensibilisation et de prévention des agressions à l'intention des travailleurs du sexe. »