Image of homeless boy doing homework outside a McDonald's inspires people to crowdfund his education

A homeless boy in the Philippines has inspired thousands of people online for his determination after a picture of him doing his homework outside a McDonald's made the rounds on social media.

'I got inspired by a kid,' student wrote on Facebook post that went viral

Joyce Torrefrance posted this photo of Daniel Cabrera, 9, doing his homework outside a McDonald's in the Philippines. It spurred others to raise money to fund his education, and send him school supplies and uniforms. (Joyce Gilos Torrefranca/Facebook)

A homeless boy in the Philippines has inspired thousands of people online for his determination after a picture of him doing his homework outside a McDonald's made the rounds on social media.

Medical student Joyce Torrefranca posted a photo in June of a young boy sitting on a makeshift chair and desk writing in a notebook in Mandaue City, Philippines. He's on the sidewalk just outside a McDonald's restaurant, using the light from inside to illuminate his work.

Torrefranca posted the picture of the boy, nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera, on her Facebook page with the caption, "I got inspired by a kid." It's since been shared more than 7,000 times, as people took it as a powerful sign of his determination to pursue his education.

Local press tracked down Cabrera and learned more about his situation. According to Rappler, a Filipino social media-focused news site, Cabrera's father died three years ago, and his mother, Christiana Esponosa, makes 60 to 80 pesos ($5-6 CDN) a day working at a local food stall.

She and her three youngest sons have lived in that space since their shanty home burned down five years ago. But the store has limited access to electric light, forcing Cabrera to find a way to do his homework outside instead.

Cabrera told Rappler, that he owns only one pencil to do his homework, and keeps a rosary in his school bag to protect him from thieves. He says he wants to be either a police officer or a doctor when he grows up.

The photo, and Cabrera's story, inspired others to action. Bayanihan Project, a site dedicated to helping lift people in the Philippines out of poverty, started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money and school supplies for Cabrera and his family. So far they've raised more than 150,000 pesos, or over $12,000 CDN, more than three times their target amount.

'A symbol of poor slum boys in the city'

"We're overjoyed," Espinosa told Agence France-Presse on Friday. "Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies."

AFP reports that the family also received school supplies, student uniforms and a scholarship that would guarantee a college education. Perhaps the most symbolic gift, though, was a reading lamp.

"He has become a symbol of poor slum boys in the city who can't study because they don't have electricity," the city's social welfare office chief, Violeta Cavada, told AFP.

"I didn't think that a simple photo can make a huge difference. Thank you guys for sharing the photo," Torrefrance later posted on her Facebook page. "With that, we were able to help Daniel in reaching his dreams. I hope Daniel's story will continue touching our hearts so that we will always be inspired and motivated in every situation we face in life."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.