PHILIPPINES: A Picture Worth a Thousand Shares

MARY GRACE COSTA WRITES – In late June, nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera couldn’t find a light bulb to study under, but now, the inspirational Filipino boy certainly has a bright future ahead of him.

On June 23rd, a college student by the name of Joyce Torrefranca found Cabrera studying on the sidewalk next to the food vendor stall that doubled as his family’s home. With nothing but the faint light of a McDonald’s sign to illuminate the pages of the textbooks and papers, Torrefranca was moved by the young boy’s tenacity and drive. She surreptitiously took a photo of the studious street urchin and posted it to her Facebook account. What began as an acknowledgment of a boy’s hard work turned into an online phenomenon as the post was shared on Facebook over 7,000 times.

The little boy in the photo was identified as Cabrera, a third grader from the slums of Mandaue City, Philippines. Daniel and his family are among the one-quarter of the total population who live in poverty in the Philippines. Daniel’s mother, Christina Espinosa, works several small jobs to make ends meet but only manages to make a little over a dollar a day working for a street-food vendor.

Despite the hardships, however, Daniel remains optimistic.

“He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor,” Ms. Espinosa said in an interview. “I want to reach my dreams.’”

Little Daniel dreams of becoming a doctor or a policeman one day, and his dream is closer to becoming a reality now that he’s gone viral. Along with the 7,000+ shares on Facebook came dozens of donations and a scholarship from people who were touched by Daniel’s perseverance. The support came in the form of money, school supplies, and a scholarship of an undisclosed amount.

“I didn’t think that a simple photo can make a huge difference,” Torrefranca said in a status update. “I hope Daniel’s story will continue touching our hearts so that we will always be inspired and motivated in every situation we face in life.”

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