Cavite City, Philippines
March 5, 1981
“When people regard me as a hero, I always tell them that they should look inside them too because I believe that there’s a hero inside every one of us and all we have to do is just to open our eyes wide and feel what’s going on, then let our hearts be willing to accommodate the needy, the desperate and the hopeless simply by extending our hand to them, and there you will unfold the hero that is in you.”
Efren’s comments will hopefully ring true with many people and his work will become a monument for courage and commitment to something you believe in. Efren’s Dynamic Teen Company is an organization that uses a pushcart to re-create a classroom that can teach valuable skills in the most unusual of places, be it a trash dump or cemetery. He is reaching out to a youth population that often resorts to gang membership in an attempt to lift themselves out of poverty, despite the many associated dangers of gang life.
Efren knew from a young age that education was key to his upward movement out of the shanty towns. He was challenged daily at school by gang members and refused to be beaten. Since 1997 his courage has been the springboard that has facilitated over 1500 children being positively affected by his program. The children are learning to read, write, understand basic mathematics, as well as practical skills such as good hygiene.
Efren motivates his volunteers with the following words: “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.” In 2009 Efren won CNN’s Hero of the Year award recognizing his immense efforts to enact change in the Philippines.