Embodying the spirit of Filipino volunteerism that bloomed in this stormy year, Efren Peñaflorida Jr. was named CNN Hero of the Year. The Cavite City native pioneered a brand of mobile education, or the "pushcart classroom," for urban poor youth.
"Efren Peñaflorida, who started a ‘pushcart classroom’ in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year," the world-renowned Cable News Network. In his acceptance speech at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CNN quoted him as saying: "Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell my co-volunteers... 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."
Peñaflorida won over nine other "CNN heroes," seven of whom were American. One of them, 20-year-old Jordan Thomas, lost both his legs in a boating accident and set up a foundation that provides prosthetics to poor children who have also lost limbs.
Peñaflorida, who hails from Cavite City in Cavite province Philippines, started the Dynamic Teen Company in 1997. His group used “Kariton Klassrooms" or mobile pushcarts to reach out and teach underprivileged children. The DTC has now over 2,000 members teaching basic reading and writing, and even personal hygiene to marginalized children in slum areas in Cavite using pushcarts filled with books, pens, tables and chairs.