BY ANDREW DUBOCK
Newly-crowned Ju-Jitsu world champion Meggie Ochoa is lending her support to the programme run by Viva’s partner network PCMN to eliminate online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines.
Meggie is the first-ever Filipino – and Asian – to win a gold medal at the Ju-Jitsu International Federation World Championships. She also got bronze at the Asian Games earlier this year.
As well as her sporting achievements, Meggie has launched a movement called Fight to Protect, which aims to raise awareness on child sexual violence, using sport as a platform for advocacy. It was through this initiative that she linked up with PCMN, and it led to Meggie giving an inspirational talk at a recent national training event in Manila, where I had chance to meet her.
Meggie told me her concerns for vulnerable children began when she read a shocking article on CNN’s website about a girl in Mexico who worked as a prostitute.
“It bothered me so much that I couldn’t sleep for several nights. I researched and found that here in the Philippines the situation is really bad as well. It’s even worse because the abuse is online – it’s so accessible and so widespread.”
At the same time, Meggie became a Christian and her successes in Ju-Jitsu grew too – but she knew she had to take action on the issue of child sexual abuse.
“We started a project that helps the rehabilitation of children through Ju-Jitsu – children who have been sexually abused, abandoned, neglected, and this has led to beginning Fight to Protect. It’s about awareness, rehabilitation and empowerment – because we don’t want children to become victims, we want to prevent it happening.”
“I’m overwhelmed with how the Lord is moving through Fight to Protect! It’s moving way faster than I expected with so many people and organisations offering support.
“Even if you’re not interested in the particular issue, sports will capture your attention. When we’ve captured their attention we tell them about the issue, and then I tell them my story specifically and that’s when they see they can be connected.”
Meggie’s advocacy work dovetails well with the online sexual exploitation (OSEC) programme established this year by PCMN, Viva’s partner network in the Philippines that brings together more than 300 churches and organisations to reach 530,000 vulnerable children.
She says, “What’s amazing about PCMN is that they are a network. That means they are linked with various kinds of organisations and right now, in this training event about tackling OSEC, I saw how the Lord is bringing people together.
“They invited me to speak and now I see my part – and each one’s part. How grand the impact is if we all just work together.
“My hope is that we can spread the message even further. It’s one thing to be aware – to be inspired, to want to do something – but to actually do something about it, that’s another thing. My hope is we continue acting and get others to do the same.”
Be a part of a response and give to our Christmas Match Appeal, which is raising money for Viva’s work in freeing children from exploitation in the Philippines and around the world.
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