A homeless 9-year-old Filipino boy, Daniel Cabrera, who was photographed studying under the light of a McDonald’s restaurant, is receiving donations from sympathizers around the world after the photo went viral on online social media, with thousands of shares and supportive comments.
The photo was taken by a medical technology student Joyce Gilos Torrefranca, 20, who saw the homeless boy kneeling on the sidewalk in front of an improvised desk while walking through the streets in Mandaue city on the island of Cebu in central Philippines, on June 23.
Torrefranca’s fortuitous decision to post the photo online has changed the lives of Daniel and his family in the Philippines. Sympathizers from around the world set up a fundraiser for Daniel. The original goal was to raise 50,000 pesos, but as of Friday afternoon, more than 126,000 pesos ($2,800) had been raised.
Daniel has also received a college scholarship grant from an organization in his country. His mother and siblings have also received donations from kind-hearted people worldwide.
“I didn’t think that a simple photo could make a huge difference. Thank you, guys, for sharing the photo. With that, we are able to help Daniel in reaching his dreams. I hope Daniel’s story will continue touching our hearts so that we will always be inspired and motivated in every situation in life.”
Daniel, a third grade student, who lives with his mother, Christina Espinoza, and his two siblings in a small stall without walls or electricity, provided by Christina’s employer, dreams of becoming a doctor or police officer when he is older. Due to the donations, Daniel now has a better chance of completing his education and fulfilling his dream.
His mother, Christina, works as a domestic helper for the stall owner, earning about 80 pesos ($1.77) a day doing laundry work. She also augments her meager income by selling cigarettes and sweets on the streets and doing other odd jobs that come her way.
Daniel walks half a mile to school every morning and was left with only one pencil after a class bully took his second pencil from him. The family became homeless after their shanty home was burned down five years ago, according to ABS-CBN News.
About three years ago, Daniel’s father died in prison after a bout of severe diarrhea.
In an interview with AFP, Christina, 42, said, “We’re overjoyed. I don’t know what I will do with all of these blessings. Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies.”
She spoke of her son’s strong will and determination to succeed, saying, “He is a very studious and determined boy… he would insist on going to school even without his lunch money because I have no money to give.”
“He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams.'”
According to Christina, Daniel does his homework and studies after school while his classmates play football on the streets. He has often been spotted studying in the light of the McDonald’s restaurant and at other times, he has been seen begging for money on the streets.
Another social media user Giomen Probert Ladra Alayon, said he had also seen the boy studying on the street and spoken to him.
“His example leaves us to ask ourselves, ‘If this kid can do it, why can’t we? Why do we need to go to coffee shops, study centers, etc. to pay much if studying only requires study materials and your own will power?'”
“Daniel perseveres because he knows how it feels to have nothing. We should learn from him. Life’s greatest lessons come not from famous personalities but from simple people. Keep your eyes and mind open.”
“We should learn from him. And with that discipline and focus, I’m sure he will become someone someday! God bless everyone! Good day!”
Daniel’s class teacher, Rosalina Detuya, praised his commitment and hard work.
“Daniel is a happy child. He is also intelligent and actually answers during class discussion, he really participates.”
The Daily Mail reports that part of the donations to Daniel and his family will go to the local church and government social welfare office. The institutions will manage the funds on behalf of the family.
Violeta Cavada, chief social welfare officer, told AFP that the social welfare office will plan carefully to manage the money. She said, “Our problem is how to manage all this financial assistance.”
She added, “He (Daniel) has become a symbol of poor slum boys in the city who can’t study because they don’t have electricity.”
The Philippines, like many other developing economies, has experienced strong growth in recent years. But poverty is still rampant with up to 25 percent of the nation of 100 million living on less than a dollar a day.
[Images: Facebook/Joyce Gilos Torrefranca]