Pushcart Classrooms Educate Filipino Kids

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CAVITE, PHILIPPINES - Pushcart classrooms go out to the poor communities in the Philipines to help children who cannot afford formal education are living in dumpsites, the slums and the cemeteries.

The practical and simple idea came from the mind of a 12-year old volunteer.

Since the pushcart has the basic elements of a typical classroom, there's no need for a school building.

It has a Philippine flag to which the children sing the national anthem, as well as a blackboard, school supplies, tables and chairs, and mats where the students can sit.

It even has a little library where the children can practice reading.

There are also first aid kits for an improvised clinic and everyone's favorite.a canteen that provides free snacks for the children.

It is amazing how this little pushcart is transforming communities. But the best part is the very young volunteers behind this pushcart who are willing to give of themselves to make a difference in the lives of the poor children.

The pushcart classroom is a project of the dynamic teen company. Dynamic Teen Company's founder, Efren Penaflorida, believes that making education accessible to the under-privileged, can bring change to communities.

"We want to inculcate in them love for learning and the importance of having faith in God. They will realize that education can be the key to open doors of opportunity for them to have a decent and fulfilled life in the future," Penaflorida said.

Penaflorida testifies how he almost did not make it to high school because his parents did not have money to support his education.

He is grateful to the youth organization, Club 8586, that led him to Christ.

It also made him into a scholar and today he has a college degree in education.

The club is a big factor in saving children from street gangs that draw them into violence by bullying them and trying to provoke fights.

Penaflorida recalls how he himself was bullied when he was 12.

"At first I wanted to fight back but my mentor encouraged us to put up Dynamic Teen Company to have an alternative group instead of the children joining gangs, fraternities and do vices," he said.

Michael Advincula DTC volunteer confesses that at the age of 7 he was already a gangster involved in sniffing glue and robbery.

"I remember we stole a sack of Christmas lights because our houses did not have lights," he said. "I was in grade 5 when I started attending the DTC classes but only because I was hungry and I wanted bread. But this is where I learned values and the importance of having a goal in life. It was only when I received Jesus that I realized stealing is a sin."

Like other former students of the pushcart classes, Michael spends his Saturdays teaching children.

He believes that they too should have the hope for a better life just as he experienced it.

Recently Penaflorida was nominated to the CNN heroes competition for his impact on poor communities in the Philippines and the world.

He hopes that the concept of the pushcart classroom will be replicated because this will bring change for the better.

Change that he says begins with ourselves.

"You are the change that you dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be," he said

*Originally aired April 3, 2009.

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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