Hails from: Cavite City, The Philippines
Known for: Building a new path.
CNN has highlighted the 28-year old Pinoy, who grew up in the slums of Cavite City, amongst their Top 10 Heroes of 2009. Peñaflorida, like many of his peers, grew up terrorized by gang violence in his community that included offenses of vandalism and rape.
In high school, he made a decision–he was going to create a different option. With three friends, Peñaflorida created a club called the Dynamic Teen Company, aspiring to “cater youth awareness projects, talent and self development activities, and community services.” Living near the dump site of his city, he eagerly developed feeding projects for the small children sent to scavenge for leftovers and rotten food there. Years of development (building awareness, training themselves as educators, staging activities and concerts) eventually led the group to become a self-sustaining education organization, and they soon obtained a pedicab to create a traveling vehicle for their educating missions.
Ten years after the launch of DTC, Peñaflorida travels weekly with the pedicab–which has been outfitted as a foldout classroom, around the city to lead classes for children 2 to 14. He is armed with armed with a team of trained teen volunteers. They also run a hygeine clinic where kids can bathe and learn to care for their teeth.
“Since 1997, an estimated 10,000 members have helped teach more than 1,500 children living in the slums. The organization supports its efforts by making and selling crafts and collecting items to recycle.”
It’s a lot of work, with slow-moving impact and very little fanfare. Yet somebody wants to do it: Efren Peñaflorida and his team of friends. What’s a little work when you’re creating real change?
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