Efren Peñaflorida for CNN Hero of the year 2009

Efren Peñaflorida is a finalist for CNN's Hero of the year 2009, he first came to my attention when his works was featured in CNN and in local media for his social work efforts and of his "Kariton Project" Concept.

Efren Penaflorida first came to the public's eye when his group, the Dynamic Teen Company won the Bayaning Pilipino award for their heroic work in helping kids keep off the streets through education (Kariton Mobile Classrooms) in Cavite. Since 1997, more than 10,000 volunteers have helped educate more than 1,500 kids in depressed areas of Cavite. It was the work of the young helping the young, the poor helping the poor.

The group uniquely uses their main tool: A pushcart classroom or “Kariton Klassroom,” which is a mobile classroom that brings around all their teaching materials to the different areas they service. 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 with a team of teen volunteers who teaches basic reading and writing to children living on the area and of the streets. The group also runs a hygiene clinic, where children can get a bath and learn how to brush their teeth. The organization supports its efforts by making and selling crafts and collecting items to recycle.

This year, Penaflorida was recognized as a CNN hero. It was announced that out of 9,000 nominations, and 28 heroes, Penaflorida made it to the elite list of 10 finalists for CNN's hero of the year. All the 10 finalists now will receive US$25,000 or about P1.2 million, and they will be flown to Los Angeles on November for the final All-Star Tribute night. The ultimate hero will be announced and will receive an additional US$100,000. The online voting has now begun on the CNN Heroes website.

Through dynamic teen company-group, Peñaflorida has successfully mentored former gang members, addicts and dropouts, seeing potential where others see problems. His group has already awards they had achieved, in recognition to their efforts, such as:

Bayaning Samahang Pilipino
ABS-CBN Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. – 2007
14th Congress Republic of the Philippines – 2007

Outstanding Volunteer Award
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and United Nations Volunteer Program (UNVP) – 2008

Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO)
National Youth Commission of the Philippines – 2008
TAYO Awards Foundation – 2008
Coca-cola Foundation, Philippines – 2008

Peñaflorida knows firsthand the adversity faced by these children. Born into a poor family, he lived in a shanty near the city dump site. But he says he refused to allow his circumstances to define his future. Read more about Efren.

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

"Our volunteers serve as an inspiration to other children, I always tell my volunteers that you are the change that you dream and I am the change that I dream. And collectively we are the change that this world needs to be," he says.

From the 10 finalists, the public will decide via the internet votes who will become the ultimate CNN hero of 2009. So please help our fellow Filipino to win such a prestigious award and get funding to continue his noble work! Vote Efren Peñaflorinda for CNN's Hero of the year 2009!

Efren Peñaflorida for CNN Hero of the year 2009 Efren Peñaflorida for CNN Hero of the year 2009 Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Monday, October 19, 2009 Rating: 5