Efren Penaflorida (Kuya Ef), a young Filipino who initiated "Pushcart Classroom" through the Dynamic Teen Company which he instigated to divert the youth's attention from gangsterism to simple act of voluntarism was named CNN Hero of the year.
I have been following Kuya Ef's inspiring story of heroism in helping the children in the slum areas in the Philippines by providing them education. What made his story more inspiring is when I learned that Kuya Ef did not come from a well-off family. Like the children he and his co-volunteers are helping, Kuya Ef was raised by his father who is a tricycle driver and his mother who is a plain housewife. He was able to finish high school and college (with a degree in BS Education) through Club 8586 -- a Christian people development organization committed in reaching out to families, campuses and communities. As I read and watched the video of Kuya Ef's extraordinary commitment to help people, I learned "again" that we all have something to share if we only want to share.
During the awarding night, as Kuya Ef accepted the honor as CNN Hero of the Year, he left a very astounding statement which is, for me, a wake-up call for all of us. With simplicity and all modesty, he expressed, "Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need. So to each and every person inside this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. ...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." It was a very simple yet profound statement that would always be engraved in this blog and in my heart.
As an educator, Kuya Ef's life is a great inspiration and I do agree in him that the hero in us is just waiting to be unleashed. It's not all about how much we have but it's all about how much we are willing to share. A simple act of heroism could take many forms and could mean many different things like an encouraging word, a helping hand, an appreciative expression and so on. We only have to believe that there is a hero within us.
"True service to others is not an issue of scope or scale, for we may serve one, some or many -- through the smallest act of kindness or most noble feat of sacrifice."
-- Matthew May