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Education: Alternative to Gang Membership
Written by Loren   
Thursday, 19 November 2009

In the Philippines, Preda Foundation, a local human rights charity, said that teenage membership in urban gang has surged to an estimated 130,000 in the past 10 years.

Gang members are groomed in the slums as early as 9 years old. And according to soma researches made gang members at such early age are all victims of poverty.

Efren Peñaflorida, 28, also was bullied by gangs in high school. He is one of those who became a gang member when he was young. Now, Peñaflorida’s life has changed.

At present, he offers Filipino youth an alternative to gang membership through education.  For the past 12 years, Peñaflorida and his team of teen volunteers have taught basic reading and writing to children living on the streets. Their main tool: A pushcart classroom.

Stored with books, pens, tables and chairs, his Dynamic Teen Company regenerates school surroundings in exceptional locations such as the cemetery and municipal trash dump.

With the challenges he had faced while he was in a gang, after a while he realized that a teenager like him could be productive.

He created the Dynamic Teen Company to offer his classmates an outlet to elevate up themselves and their community. For Peñaflorida, that meant returning to the slums of his childhood to give kids the education he felt they deserved.

The group also runs a hygiene clinic, where children can get a bath and learn how to brush their teeth.

Since 1997, an estimated 10,000 members have helped educate more than 1,500 children living in the slums. The organization sustains its efforts by making and selling crafts and collecting items to recycle.

With this kind of advocacy, Peñaflorida proved that youths are really the hope of our nation. He is giving more children the chance and inspiration to learn and stay out of gangs. [via]


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