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Norwegian child welfare advocate receives Presidential Award

StreetLight Philippines founder Erlend Johannesen received the 2016 Presidential Award for outstanding foreign individuals from Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the Malacañan Palace on 19 December 2016.

Johannesen is known for his commitment to help the impoverished children of Tacloban, Leyte. Although quite young, he has nonetheless dedicated the past 12 years rescuing orphans and street children from drugs, crime, starvation and prostitution.

For more than a decade now, Streetlight Philippines has offered a shelter and safe haven to children where they are guided and educated. Norwegian Parliamentarians and the Embassy paid a visit to StreetLight Philippines in 2015 and were able to witness how Johannesen and his team stood firm in reestablishing their center after it was damaged by super typhoon Haiyan.

The NGO today has a school, orphanage, computer center and library because of the efforts of Johannesen in collaborating with other organizations that were willing to help get the operations of the center going again and reach out to more children in the streets.

‘This is a highly-deserved award for Mr. Johannesen as he continues to be a big brother to the children of Leyte. He is an inspiration to youth who are seeking to make a difference in the world’, says Ambassador Erik Førner.

During the awarding ceremony, Johannesen delivered the response speech on behalf of his fellow awardees. Johannesen is the first foreign national to deliver the response in the 25-year history of the awards.

Johannesen is among the 23 recipients of the 2016 Presidential Awards. Since 1991, the Awards have been honoring Filipino and foreign individuals and organizations overseas for their work in the service of Filipinos. This is the second time that a Norwegian has been conferred with the Kaanib ng Bayan Award under the Presidential Award. The Ma’Ma Children’s Center of Norway was awarded in 2006.

The ceremony was attended by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, members of the diplomatic community and high-level government officials.