Efren Penaflorida paid it all back.
World Vision joins the thousands of people, especially Filipinos, around the world in rejoicing with Efren and the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) for winning the CNN Hero of the Year Award.
Efren, a school teacher from Cavite was named first Pinoy CNN Hero for his inspiring commitment of helping educate street children with his Kariton Klasrum (Classroom Cart) through a group he founded in the 90’s, the Dynamic Teen Company.
Out of over 9,000 nominees from across the world, Efren emerged the hero in a special awarding ceremony held Saturday at the Kodak Theater in New York garnering the most number of votes worldwide.
“Efren is a living testimony that investing on a child’s life to have a better future can have really big returns. May this serve as an encouragement for all of us, especially those who are working with children. He is a proof that children can, indeed, change the world. He is a fine example of the change we want to see,” said Elnora Avarientos, executive director of World Vision in the Philippines.
World Vision feels a special affinity towards Efren since he was once a sponsored child under the organization’s Child Sponsorship Program-- a product of a program that currently sends some 122,000 underprivileged children to school in the Philippines and hopes to help mold more Efren’s in the future.
“For us in World Vision, we are truly honored that Efren embodies that heart of our ministry. He is an evidence that our work in World Vision is real – that each child transformed through the sacrificial giving of others can become a HERO and start a movement of change this world desperately needs,” Avarientos added.
“I can symbolically liken it to a rainbow after the storm. An affirmation of God's promise of good things to come, like in Noah and the Great Flood. In this hard times when many selfless Filipinos emerge as heroes in response to a call for action and sacrifice, it is affirming to all of us that such efforts are recognized and rewarded.
The announcement of Anderson Cooper of the Blue Ribbon Panel's decision gave Filipinos a breath of fresh air, a brief moment to cheer and celebrate, to be inspired all the more to get back into volunteering and rebuild our nation,” Efren said when he first learned that he made it to CNN Top 10 Heroes.
As Efren has put it in his acceptance speech when he was named as the CNN Hero of the Year, “Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve… you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be.