24-year-old student Jastine Valdez was strangled by 40-year old Mark Hennessy, hours after he abducted her from near her home in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow on Saturday 19thof May 2018. When her body was found on Monday, 21stof May, Raymond Garrett of Outreach Ireland called for a simultaneous vigil and set up a crowdraising fund with a target of €10,000. In total, over €145,000 of €10,000 goal was raised by approximately 4,600 people in two months through the funding page and an additional €2,500 was donated directly to the families account via Solicitor Robert Emmet Bourke of Bourke Law.
Outreach Ireland was responsible for:
- Mobilising the Filipino community to hold a simultaneous vigil on the 21stof May and various vigil prayers, masses throughout Ireland until her 40thday mass through full media coverage and social media announcements
- Raising €145,000 for the family
- Organising the logistics to provide private and discreet departure from Dublin out of the media’s sight,
- Organise access to Dublin airports Private VIP terminal
- Accompanying the parents from Dublin to Clark Airport in Angeles City, Philippines.
Thessie (2nd from right) and Danilo Valdez (rightmost) join Outreach Ireland’s Vanda Brady (4th from right) and Raymond Garrett (5th from right) during an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan (center).
03 September 2018 LONDON—Thessie and Danilo Valdez, parents of murdered Filipina student Jastine Valdez, received a substantial sum from the memorial fund raised by Outreach Ireland through crowdfunding platform GoFundMe. Over 4,650 people contributed to the fund, which was setup in Jastine’s name. In addition to the donations sent by the public, a private trust donated €2,500 to the family. All subsequent donations will be transferred straight to the parents’ bank account.
“Like any other person who lit that candle, uttered a prayer, donated that Euro or simply closed their eyes and thought of Jastine and her family, I was drawn to give anything I can to help her family during this difficult time,” said Vanda Brady, a representative of Outreach Ireland. “We are truly grateful for the overwhelming response to the fundraiser from people in Ireland and all over the world. Our help to the family has always been genuine and our love and support for them is for life, not just when the cameras are on. This has pushed us even more to continue helping the community, or change someone’s life for the better in whatever way we can.”
Outreach Ireland, the non-profit organisation that raised the money, presented a detailed report of the initiative to the Philippine Embassy in London. They continue to assist the Valdez couple who are back in Ireland to start anew.
“We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation and gratitude for your donations in Jastine’s name,” the Valdez couple stated in handwritten letter for Outreach Ireland and all those who offered assistance. “Saying ‘Thank you’ is not enough compared to what you have done to help us. We will always feel indebted and can never repay your kindness.”
The couple requested Outreach Ireland to accompany them in an interview on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan on 28 August. During the interview, the couple shared the ordeal they went through following their daughter’s grisly murder. They requested the public to respect their privacy in light of their struggle to rebuild their lives.
“The Embassy commends the efforts of Outreach Ireland in rallying public support for the Valdez family,” said Ambassador Antonio Manuel Lagdameo. “Outreach Ireland’s efforts is a touching manifestation of the Philippine spirit of bayanihan and malasakit. The Embassy will continue to support Outreach Ireland in this initiative. We also continue to include the Valdez family in our prayers.”
The Valdez family hail from Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya. Thessie and Danilo have lived and worked in Ireland for the past 17 years. Jastine joined her parents in 2015 in her desire for their family to be together again. She was 24 when she was murdered.
The Jastine Valdez Memorial Fund GoFundMe page is still open to receive donations. After the interview was aired, more people have poured in their support through the page.
Those who are interested to contribute to the Jastine Valdez Memorial Fund may do so through https://ie.gofundme.com/jastine-valdez-memorial while those who have job or housing leads for Thessie and Danny may contact Outreach Ireland at email@example.com.
HOMELESS AND JOBLESS PARENTS THANKFUL AFTER RECEIVING JASTINE VALDEZ MEMORIAL FUND AND FOR THE CONTINUED SUPPORT
Thessie and Danilo Valdez, parents of Jastine Valdez who was murdered on the 19th of May 2018 in Co. Wicklow, have received the funds that were raised by Outreach Ireland through the GoFundMe page set up in Jastine’s name. The funds donated by over 4,650 people were transferred to their account in June 2018 while they were in the Philippines. Another €2,500 was donated directly to the family by a private trust. All subsequent donations will be transferred directly to the parents’ bank account.
Strict documentation and verification requirements imposed by both GoFundMe and Dublin-based solicitor Robert Emmet Bourke of Bourke Law were followed to link the Valdez family account to the GoFundMe page. A full verification of all transactions and the transfer of the funds was carried out and certification of the fact was issued. The oversight provided was free of charge.
Outreach Ireland, the non-profit organisation that raised the money, presented a detailed report on the fundraiser to the Philippine Embassy in London. They continue to assist Thessie and Danilo who are now back in Ireland but are homeless and jobless. They are staying with a close family friend who invited them while they are looking for a new job and a home.
Thessie and Danilo personally gave Outreach Ireland a handwritten thank you letter on the 21st of August 2018 for the general public and all of those who have offered assistance.
They recently requested Outreach Ireland to join them for moral support and to assist with translation while they gave an interview on “Today with Miriam O”Callaghan” on RTE Radio 1 on 28 August 2018. Here is the full interview https://cdn.rasset.ie/manifest/audio/2018/0829/20180829_rteradio1-seanorourke-parentsofj_c21420822_21420829_261_/manifest.m3u8
Danilo and Thessie gave the exclusive interview to share the ordeal they went through and to thank everyone for the undying support and the respect and privacy given to date. They also requested for continued privacy while they try to comprehend how to rebuild their shattered lives.
They also gave Outreach Ireland a copy of the handwritten letter that Jastine wrote for them when she was about 18 years old which they only found three weeks after her funeral. They have given permission for this letter to be shared publicly to show the true love that was in Jastine’s heart.
The Jastine Valdez Memorial Fund GoFundMe page is still open to receive donations. After the interview was aired, close to €7000 has been donated and the amount is continuing to rise. Various offers of support and a few job leads have been made.
Thessie and Danilo are very thankful for all the help being offered. They are currently considering all options and will take their time in making an informed decision when they are ready, as they are also still grieving from losing Jastine at the same time.
For donations please go to https://ie.gofundme.com/jastine-valdez-memorial. For leads on jobs or housing for Thessie and Danny, please contact Outreach Ireland at firstname.lastname@example.org.