Every weekday, Efraín Delgado – accompanied by his grandfather, Ángel – walked more than an hour to get to his elementary school in Chaco, Argentina. That meant getting up extra early so that he could comfortably make the more than one-hour trek and still arrive on time. It’s a heavy burden for an 11-year-old. But one Efraín shouldered so that he could make his family proud. This week, the young boy became the first person in his family to graduate from elementary school. And during graduation, Efraín and his abuelito became overcome with emotion.
One stirring photo of Efraín and Ángel wiping away tears as they stand beside Hugo Baricheval – the director of the No. 23 school in Pampa Chica – went viral. When Baricheval spoke about Efraín – the valedictorian – there was hardly a dry eye in the audience. “At the end of the graduation, I made a speech where I talked about his qualities, his characters, and everyone was emotional,” Baricheval said, according to CNN en Español. “It wasn’t just he and his grandfather who cried. It was also his classmates, some of the parents.”
Baricheval thinks very highly of Efraín, who he described as studious, a good classmate, and a good friend. That’s why before he heads to his new school, which is 9.3 miles away from his home, Baricheval hopes to give him a bicycle, Argenticias reports. Baricheval also made it clear that Efraín’s case is not unique. Many of his students also face the same challenges.
Journalist Roly Alvarez, who’s related to Baricheval, first broke the story. Ever since then, people all over the world have contacted Alvarez to offer support for Efraín and the school. This has pushed the journalist to take on an ambitious program and organize a donation drive to the Pampa Chica school, as well as surrounding schools. “This won’t be a one-time thing,” he said on Twitter. “We’ve initiated an ongoing labor of love, fraternity, and solidarity for the people who most need it… I will speak to the schools to learn what their main needs are, and I’ll report back.”
May 24 at 3:1o p.m. ET: Check out what Efraín Delgado is up to now.