Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: Efren Peñaflorida

Last week, I chanced upon the CNN - Hero of the Year awards ceremony and I almost hit myself for not tuning in earlier. I have never cried so much while watching television as this one. It was so inspiring to watch men and women who unselfishly gave their all to serve others! If this is not what the world needed, I don't know what is! God must have been smiling!

There were ten recipients of the HERO award chosen all over the world and only one, the best of the best, would receive HERO of the Year. The HERO award got USD 25,000 each and the HERO of the Year got extra USD 100,000 to further help them to serve others.

The winner this year for the HERO of the year is Efren Peñaflorida from the Philippines. He started the "Kariton Klassroom" to bring education to poor children who are easily influenced or pressured by gangs who will recruit them.

As a child, Peñaflorida was beaten and bullied by gangsters but he chose education over gang life in Cavite City where he was born. He vowed to create a way for other children to make the same choice. He set a Dynamic Teen Company and with teenage co-workers brought books to children in slums and on the streets, and the Company's 10,000 volunteers have brought reading, writing and hygiene to 1,500 youngsters.

The group later launched the “Kariton Klassroom,” an innovative way of bringing the classroom to the children in the depressed areas. The pushcart classroom is now complete with teaching aids, blackboards and even folding tables and chairs to allow children to sit and read materials.

Peñaflorida recalled that he and other volunteers had to endure discrimination and even being branded as “trash collectors” with their pushcarts whenever they carry out their noble mission.

The public, however, took notice of Peñaflorida’s ingenious way of bring education to poor children by nominating him to the CNN’s list of heroes for this year.

Peñaflorida urged the crowd to “be the hero to the next one in need.” He also called on them to “serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve.”

“As I always tell to my co-volunteers... 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,” Peñaflorida said.

Peñaflorida created a program that “My message to children of all races, please, to embrace learning and love it for it will embrace and love you back and enable you to change your world,” Peñaflorida said.

Efren Peñaflorida, I salute you as I salute the rest of the nine CNN heroes and many million unsung heroes all over the world who helped to make this world a better place!

PS: What is your dream of serving others? Unleash what God has put inside you and with God, nothing is impossible!

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