Photo of boy studying by shop light wins hearts

160220 daniel cabrera

MANILA • A homeless Filipino boy has been overwhelmed with aid after a heart-wrenching photo of him studying on the pavement and using faint light from a McDonald’s outlet went viral on the Internet.

Nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera will fulfil his dream of becoming a policeman after donations of cash, school supplies and a college scholarship poured in, said his mother, Ms Christina Espinosa.

“We are overjoyed. I don’t know what I will do with all of these blessings,” the 42-year-old grocery employee and domestic helper said. “Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies.”

The photo, posted on Facebook last month by a college student, showed Daniel doing his homework on a wooden stool placed close to a McDonald’s window to catch the light from the eatery.

The 20-year-old medical technology student, Ms Joyce Torrefranca, captioned her Facebook post: “I got inspired by a kid.”

Ms Espinosa and her three youngest children, including Daniel, have been living in her employer’s mini-grocery store since their shanty home was gutted by fire five years ago.

The mother said she earned just 80 pesos (S$2.40) a day working at the store and as a domestic helper for the store’s owners in their nearby home. She augments the income by selling cigarettes and candy on the streets on Mandaue, an urban centre on Cebu island in central Philippines. Their grocery store home is close to the McDonald’s outlet that had served as Daniel’s study nook, she said.

His father died in 2013 due to severe diarrhoea, said Ms Espinosa, who has three older children, all married and living separately from her.

She described the boy as a tenacious child with a single-minded focus on getting an education.

“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,” Ms Espinosa said. “He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams.'”

Ms Espinosa said, aside from the cash, school supplies and scholarship offer that would guarantee his education through college, people had given school uniforms and a reading lamp.

The local church and government social welfare office had also received aid on his behalf.


Excerpts taken from


Published by The Straits Times

Jul 11, 2015, 5:00 am SGT




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