The inspiring picture of Daniel Cabrera doing his homework on the street using a makeshift wooden desk and the dim light from a McDonald’s restaurant touched the hearts of millions when it was shared around the world.
Now nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera’s determination to drag himself out of poverty in the Philippines has been made all the more remarkable by the emerging details of his life.
It has been revealed that the little boy is homeless and lives in a shack at the back of a food stall where his mother works, after their home was burned down in a fire five years ago.
Inside the shack, Daniel and his siblings take turns to sleep on wooden benches. There are no proper walls or electricity, making it very exposed during the cold winter months.
Daniel’s mother, Christina Espinoza, who also has three grown-up children from a previous marriage, works tirelessly to provide for the family.
She became the sole provider for Daniel after his father died of severe diarrhea in a prison cell three years ago.
As well as being employed as a domestic worker for the food-stall owner, she has often taken on extra jobs.
She earns a small amount of cash as a street vendor, selling cigarettes and sweets to passers-by, she told Rappler. She has also washed other people’s laundry for money.
Every morning, Daniel walks a kilometre to school, arriving for his first lesson at 8am. he goes to school without any lunch money. But once there he has to be careful to avoid the bullies, who have already stolen one of his two only pencils.
Now Daniel keeps a set of rosary beads in his bag, hoping that it will ward off the bullies and that no one will take his remaining pencil.
He has no lamp at home so chooses to study near a McDonald’s restaurant in Mandaue City, Cebu – close to his home – because of the large amount of light beaming out of the store.
While his Grade 3 classmates play football in the evenings, Daniel who dreams of being a doctor or a policeman is often seen doing his homework outside the fast-food outlet on the street.
Until recently, Daniel was just another poor Filipino boy with big ambitions to become either a doctor or a policeman.
But his life was changed when 20-year-old medical technology student Joyce Torrefranca was walking down the street last month and spotted him studying.
After taking several quick photos on her phone, Torrefranca posted the images on to her social media accounts, writing that she felt ‘inspired’ by the boy’s dedication to his studies.
The photo was quickly shared around the world, with dozens of people saying how impressed they were with the young boy’s efforts.
After Joyce Torrefranca’s photo of Daniel was shared online, a fundraising page has been set up to raise money for him and other children.
Joyce later wrote: ‘I didn’t think that a simple photo can make a huge difference. Thank you guys for sharing the photo. With that, we were able to help Daniel in reaching his dreams.’
Giomen Probert Ladra Alayon also saw Daniel studying in the street and had a quick conversation with him.
Afterwards Giomen wrote: ‘His example leaves us to ask ourselves, “If this kid can do it, why can’t we? Why do we need to go to coffee shops, study centers, etc. to pay much if studying only requires study materials and your own will power?”‘
One person said Daniel’s determination ‘inspired us and definitely sent an uproar in social media on what studying really means!’
Alayon also commented on how Daniel’s attitude should be used as an example by more people, writing: ‘He perseveres because he knows how it feels to have nothing. We should learn from him.
‘Life’s greatest lessons come not from famous personalities but from simple people. Keep your eyes and mind open.
‘With that discipline and focus, I’m sure he will become someone someday!’
The photo was shared more than 7,000 times from Joyce Torrefranca’s Facebook page and has now gained mass media attention.
Since then, a fundraising page has been set up and has raised enough money to pay for Daniel’s education all the way through college as well as provide him with more books and his own study lamp.
His mother told reporters how proud she was of her son: ‘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.
‘He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams.’
The donations have been so generous that some of the money is going to help other children in similar situations.
Violeta Cavada, Mandaue City’s social welfare office chief, said: ‘Daniel has become a symbol of poor slum boys in the city who can’t study because they don’t have electricity.’
Despite strong economic growth in recent years, a quarter of the Philippines’ 100 million people still live on less than one dollar a day, with giant slums dominating the cities.
Culled from MailOnline