Filipino Pushcart Educator Named CNN Hero of the Year


Efren Peñaflorida has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year for his unselfish work on bringing education to Filipino children living in the slums.

Born in Cavite, Philippines, Peñaflorida is determined to give every child the chance to be better through the availability of education. Thus,the 28-year-old teacher and social worker pioneered the Kariton Klasrum (“wooden cart classroom”) that brought learning and teaching aids for children to read through. In his effort to encourage the youth to stay away from gangs and fraternities, he also created the Dynamic Team Company (DTC), which in turn, also spawned other Kariton Klasrums.

Peñaflorida, who will receive $100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company, was selected after seven weeks of online voting at More than 2.75 million votes were cast.

“Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry,” he said upon accepting the honor. “Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.

“So to each and every person inside this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, 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.”

There were 9 other CNN Heroes that was chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from an initial pool of more than 9,000 viewer nominations. Each of the 10 heroes were honored with a documentary tribute and introduced by a celebrity presenter. All of the top 10 Heroes receives $25,000.

[CNN via TNC]