A medical student was walking through the streets in the Philippines when he saw a homeless boy sitting on the sidewalk as he read a book and wrote on a piece of paper.
It quickly became clear that the boy was actually doing his homework, using the light of a McDonald’s restaurant to see and a wooden bench as a makeshift table to work on.
The inspiring image of 9-year-old Daniel Cabrera, an innocent child determined to escape poverty through education, has since been viewed by millions of people across the globe after Joyce Torrefranca took it on June 23 and posted it on her Facebook account.
The Daily Mail revealed more details on Friday about Cabrera’s personal story, making the viral image even more powerful.
According to the Daily Mail, Cabrera’s dad died in a prison cell after falling ill roughly three years ago. His mother, Christina Espinoza, had no choice but to be the sole caregiver for her son.
Espinoza told the website Rappler that she worked tirelessly to provide for her son, taking jobs such as a domestic worker for a food stall owner, selling cigarettes and treats, washing laundry and other odd jobs.
The mother and Cabrera moved into a small shack without any walls or electricity after their home was burned down in a fire five years ago. Times are rough when temperatures plunge in the winter time.
Despite the odds being stacked against him, the young boy is amazingly determined to get his education and secure himself a brighter future. He walks over half a mile to school every morning, where he then has to continue his struggle and overcome bullies.
Since Cabrera does not have a lamp to do his homework, he often chooses to study near a McDonald’s restaurant, in Mindanao, Cebu, since it’s close to his home due and there is a large amount of light beaming out of the store.
While his 3rd grade classmates play football in the evening, the 9-year-old is often studying outside the restaurant, so he can secure his future of becoming a doctor or a cop one day to help his homeland.
After the viral photo of the boy doing his homework went viral, a fundraiser was set up to help him achieve his education goals. The fundraiser’s goal of 50,000 Philippine pesos was quickly shattered. As of Saturday morning, over 200,000 Philippine pesos or over $4,000 had been raised.
His mother told reporters how proud she was of her son. “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. He always tells me, ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams.’”