Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teaching In The Slums

In line with the last post I wrote about offering a hand up instead of a handout, here's a story about a young man who wants to help children avoid gangs in the Philippine slums. He demonstrates his compassion by teaching children reading and writing.

Efren Peñaflorida, 28, also was bullied by gangs in high school. Today, he offers Filipino youth an alternative to gang membership through education.

"Gang members are groomed in the slums as early as 9 years old," says Peñaflorida. "They are all victims of poverty."

For the past 12 years, Peñaflorida and his team of teen volunteers have taught basic reading and writing to children living on the streets. Their main tool: A pushcart classroom. Do you know someone who should be a CNN Hero? Nominations are open at CNN.com/Heroes

Stocked with books, pens, tables and chairs, his Dynamic Teen Company recreates a school setting in unconventional locations such as the cemetery and municipal trash dump...

He created the Dynamic Teen Company to offer his classmates an outlet to lift up themselves and their community. For Peñaflorida, that meant returning to the slums of his childhood to give kids the education he felt they deserved.

"They need education to be successful in life. It's just giving them what others gave to me," he says.

Today, children ranging from ages 2 to 14 flock to the pushcart every Saturday to learn reading, writing, arithmetic and English from Peñaflorida and his trained teen volunteers.
A genuine hero.


Ellen K said...

I hope he succeeds and I really mean that. Unfortunately, the role models for urban kids range from gangstas to criminals. The folks who make it out, stay out and for good reason-because they don't want their own kids ending up in the gangs that terrorized their own childhood years. Even in the suburbs, the hiphop/rap/gangsta image goes a long way and I have had verbal battles trying to convince kids that fighting for the sake of fighting is stupid. They are all about "street cred"-which is laughable when you consider some of these kids have pro athletes for fathers.

PeggyU said...

Ellen: I think if he saves just one, he is a hero. With that many students, he will probably do better than just one!