Monday, November 30, 2009

Pushcarts

I had heard about Efren Peñaflorida way before his name became a topic of prime time news shows. I received an email from a friend, encouraging everyone to support this Pinoy's bid to become the CNN Hero of the Year. So I did what I was told: I headed straight to the website, looked for his name, and clicked "vote."

Weeks after that, he was there on-stage, carrying a wooden trophy with his name carved on it, saying to the entire world, "You are the change that you dream, as I am the change that I dream, and collectively, we are the change that this world needs to be.”

I only knew him through the online news I had read over the net, but yesterday was the first time I actually heard him speak. He was interviewed by Kris Aquino on the Buzz. Like an ordinary non-showbiz man, untrained in speaking in front of the cameras, Efren explained what his organization, Dynamic Teen Co. (DTC), is doing. (The Inquirer also offers a brief background about this man.) His shyness was his charm.

The man used a pushcart that carried books and blackboards to teach kids on-the-spot. Only someone who understands the real value of education can do that. What's encouraging is that his organization has expanded to accommodate 2000 volunteers—that means 2000 volunteers who share his own vision—and more will be added, thanks to the media exposure he's been getting.

I must confess that I had voted for him primarily because he was a Filipino—and we know how we're unbeatable in these online voting campaigns—although I did like what he was doing when I read about it. But now Efren stands as a reminder, especially to the young, that education is important; it is worth the time and the sacrifice. After all, not everyone gets to study inside a classroom. As we have seen these past days, some kids only learn through pushcarts on the streets.

You did us proud, Efren. 

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