Will the Philippines invest in children and our future?

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

By Evelin Weber, writer, entrepreneur and Philippines Ambassador for A World at School

The 10 million people around the world who signed the #UpForSchool Petition are having their voices heard at the United Nations. For what? For the belief that every child not only deserves an education but it’s their right to have one.

And there is no better moment to bring this to light than now – when a photo of a girl studying on a rubbish can in the Philippines has found its way into media around the world.

Her name is Cielo, which means “sky”, and she has dreams to match that. She wants to be a doctor but instead she’s dropped out of first grade to help her mother pick through the garbage.

Her sister Jenalyn is 10 and helps teach Cielo to write her name. “At least she’s learning something,” Jenalyn told a reporter.

Daniel Cabrera does his homework by light from McDonald’s Picture: Facebook/Joyce Torrefranca

A few months ago, another photo of a five-year old kid named Daniel – also in the Philippines – went viral. He was studying on a makeshift desk under the lights of a McDonald’s as he waited for his mother to finish working at a shop. 

The photo spurred a campaign called “Ako Si Daniel,” which means “I am Daniel.”

First we had Daniel, now we have Cielo – both children who have captured the hearts and compassion of millions around the world.

But they are only two of the 1.2 million children in the Philippines who are out of school and will never have any photos taken of them.

Filipino children show support Picture: Pilar T.

There is no better time than now. With elections forthcoming in the Philippines and the United Nations gathering for its General Assembly, there is a historic opportunity for our nation to make a commitment to put kids like Daniel and Cielo in school.

There is no better investment a nation can make than education. It is an investment in economic development, an investment in opportunity and an investment in our shared future.

Albert del Rosario, the Philippines Foreign Minister, is attending the UNGA on behalf of the Philippines. Will he pledge to help Daniel? Will he help Cielo and the millions like her?

Like Cielo, AkoSiDaniel. I am Daniel, like I am Cielo. We are all Daniels separated by opportunity.

The children of our nation need our help. The world is watching.

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