Meet Daniel, a young boy who is determined to pull himself out of poverty. After his father died 3 years ago, his mother became the family’s sole provider. Even though she cannot afford to give him lunch money, Daniel still insists on going to school. Afterward, does his homework on the street, by the light of a nearby McDonald’s window. His story inspired many around the world after it was recently shared on social media.
Daniel Cabrera 9, lives in a shack behind a food stall along with his mother and siblings in the city of Mandaue in the Philippines. His mother Christine Espinoza became the sole provider of their family after her husband died from disease 3 years ago, while in prison.
She works in the food stall, earning a meager wage. They had no choice but to move there after their home burned down 5 years ago. Daniel and his siblings have to take turns sleeping on wooden benches inside the tiny shack.
Daniel’s mother works hard to earn an income by selling candy or cigarettes, or washing laundry to make extra money. When he’s not at school, Daniel spends his time doing homework on a makeshift wooden desk on the street. The light coming out of a nearby McDonald’s window allows Daniel to continue studying through the evening.
After school, Daniel tends to his homework into the evening by the light of a nearby McDonald’s window.
Determined to pull himself out of poverty, Daniel is very eager to do well in his studies. He dreams of one day becoming either a policeman or a doctor. Everyday he walks 1 km to school to attend classes at 8 am despite that, his family cannot even afford to give him lunch money.
And to make matters worse, Daniel also has to watch out for bullies who might try to take his things while he’s at school. He has already had one of his pencils snatched away, and he has only one left. Young Daniel carries a rosary in his bag in order to keep the bullies away, hoping for divine protection.
Determined to escape from poverty, Daniel pays attention in class.
After class, while the other 3rd-graders are off to play football, Daniel tends to his homework on the street. Little did he know, his fortune was about to change for the better. While working at his desk one day, he was spotted by a 20-year-old medical technology student, Joyce Torrefranca, who took several pictures of him with her phone.
Taking to social media, Joyce posted the pictures online, along with her comments expressing how “inspired” she was by the boy’s dedication. Little did she realize how her photos would go viral, and change the fortune of young Daniel.
“I didn’t think that a simple photo can make a huge difference”, she posted. “Thank you guys for sharing the photo. With that, we were able to help Daniel in reaching his dreams.”
Joyce’s post quickly spread around the world, while her photos were re-posted 7,000 times… and it only took off from there.
Mrs. Espinoza and her son are share their story in a television interview.
Another netizen, Giome Probert Landra Alayon (who was also in the medical technology field) chatted with Daniel on the street, and shared the boy’s story online in admiration.
“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!”
Joyce Torrefranca took notice of Daniel as he tended to his homework on the street.
Daniel’s story soon garnered mass media attention, and spread around the world. Reporters came to speak with Daniel on the street. He and his mother were even brought into the studio for an interview. When reporters spoke to his mother, she praised her son’s diligence:
“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.”
After Daniel’s story went viral, media contacted the young man and his mother.
Eventually, a fundraising page was set up to help raise money for Daniel’s education, as well as for other children in need. Joyce was gratified upon seeing all of this come together. “Thank you guys”, she posted in reply.
The fundraiser was a complete success. Not only did they manage to cover the costs of books and a new desk lamp for Daniel; they’ve managed to fund his entire education right through college.
“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.”
The city of Mandaue’s social welfare office chief Violeta Cavada expressed her view that, “Daniel has become a symbol of poor slum boys in the city who can’t study because they don’t have electricity.”
Daniel’s story soon garnered mass media attention, and spread around the world.
Daniel’s situation is one that many families now face in the Philippines. Although the country’s economy is developing, much of the city areas consists of large slums; and quarter of the population live on less than a dollar a day.
Daniel’s is a story of hard work, inspiration and hope. When caring people take notice of good souls like Daniel, sometimes that hope can truly lead to a brighter future.