A homeless Filipino boy has been overwhelmed with aid after a photograph of him studying on the pavement using faint light from a McDonald’s outlet went viral on the internet.
Nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera will now be able to fulfil his dream of becoming a policeman after donations of cash, school supplies and a college scholarship poured in, his mother, Christina Espinosa, said on Friday.
“We’re overjoyed. I don’t know what I will do with all of these blessings,” said Ms Espinosa, a 42-year-old grocery store employee and domestic helper. “Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies.”
The photograph, posted on Facebook last month by a college student, showed Daniel doing his homework on a wooden stool placed close to a McDonald’s window to catch the light from the store.
The 20-year-old medical technology student, Joyce Torrefranca, captioned her Facebook post: “I got inspired by a kid.”
It was then shared close to 7,000 times on the social networking site and reported by local television.
Local politician Samuel Pagdilao, of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement & Support (ACT-CIS) party, awarded Daniel an unspecified “scholarship grant”
The local police force also raised funds and provided groceries for the family.
Ms Espinosa and her three youngest children, including Daniel, have been living in her employer’s mini-grocery store since their shanty home was gutted by fire five years ago.
Ms Espinosa said she earned just 80 pesos (£1.14) a day working at the store and as a domestic helper for the store’s owners in their nearby home. She augments the income by selling cigarettes and candy on the streets on Mandaue, an urban centre on Cebu island in the central Philippines.
Their grocery store home is close to the McDonald’s outlet where Daniel was photographed studying, she said.
Daniel’s father died in 2013 due to severe diarrhoea, said Ms Espinosa, who has three older children, all married and living separate from her.
She described the boy as a tenacious child with a single-mined focus on getting an education.
“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,” Ms Espinosa said.
“He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams’.”
Ms Espinosa said, aside from the cash, school supplies and scholarship offer that would guarantee his education through college, people had given school uniforms and a reading lamp.
The local church and government social welfare office had also received aid on his behalf.
“Our problem is how to manage all this financial assistance,” said Violeta Cavada, the city’s social welfare office chief.
“He has become a symbol of poor slum boys in the city who can’t study because they don’t have electricity.”
Ms Torrefranca’s post was shared around the world and in multiple languages, including Spanish, German and Portuguese, all touched by the boy’s perseverance.
“I couldn’t believe how my post went viral and helped him in his studies,” she told AFP on Friday.
She said she snapped a photo of the boy, whom she saw outside the fastfood chain for the first time, while she was on her way home from school.
“I was in awe. While other streetkids were begging for alms, he was studying.”
Many who reposted Daniel’s photo on their Facebook profiles agreed.
“I hope he makes it because in my book, he is a legend,” Alan Butler said on his Facebook page.
“Great story because thanks to this picture, his life will change. Sad, because it is one of the thousands, probably millions who live in these circumstances,” wrote Christoffel Sneijders.
Despite strong economic growth in recent years, roughly one quarter of the Philippines’ 100 million people still live on less than one dollar a day, and giant slums dominate all major cities.
Courtesy of: The Telegraph