Daniel’s story began in poverty. Now, thanks to holistic support from Compassion and the local church, he is helping others break the cycle and dream of a better future.

Today there are 333 million children living in extreme poverty. These children are deprived not only of basic needs but also of dignity, opportunity and hope.

Poverty tells them that they are disregarded and forgotten. But we know this isn’t the truth.

Through Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program and the work of the local church, children are given the opportunity to dream again. They’re given a helping hand to rise up from circumstances that have pushed them down and denied them a future.

By sponsoring a child through Compassion, you are providing a young person trapped in poverty with the opportunity to develop spiritually, socio-emotionally, physically and cognitively. It’s a relationship more powerful than poverty, and it has the power to change a life.

Just ask Daniel.

Daniel grew up beside the river that runs through Ilocos Norte, a small village on the north-west tip of the Philippines. His childhood was marked by poverty, and he remembers the many sacrifices his family had to make every day just to get by.

“We could not afford simple things like ice cream, toys, chocolate or new clothes. There were times we missed meals and had no money to go to school,” says Daniel.

As a child, a life outside of the confines of poverty seemed to be a far-off dream.

There were eight people in Daniel’s family, and his older siblings had to leave school early so they could work. Daniel remembers his sisters spending every afternoon washing clothes for people in the village and his brothers helping the neighborhood harvest rice, and plant onions and garlic. His mother worked as a housekeeper, and his father took work where he could as a fisherman.

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Life was hard. Yet despite the circumstances he was born into, God had a special plan in store for him.

When he was 9 years old, Daniel was registered in the Compassion child development centre at his local church. From that day onward, everything changed.

“The journey started with my mother. There was a Bible Baptist church nearby, and my mother said, ‘Let’s go to the church. I think there’s a program there helping needy children.’”

For the first time, Daniel was filled with hope that there might be something more for his future.

“My sponsors were an elderly couple from the UK with a daughter and a lovely dog. Whenever they would write, they would always send me pictures of their dog,” he says. “I praise God that they were consistent in supporting me, especially in remembering my birthday. They have been so encouraging, so loving. They are my inspiration.”

God planted a love for teaching in Daniel’s heart and he went on to study a Bachelor of Secondary Education at university. He graduated thanks to the support he received through Compassion and his local church.

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Filled with a passion to make a difference in the life of young people, particularly children living in poverty, Daniel wished to model his life after Jesus and began to pursue ministry. In 2009, Daniel became the senior pastor of Sarrat Bible Baptist Church, a church in one of the poorest communities in the Philippines. It was the very same church where Daniel’s own story started.

“The church I grew up in is now the church I pastor,” he says.

As a leader in this community, Daniel understands the weight of poverty and the hopelessness that comes with it. He remembers what it was like to go without dreams for the future or basic necessities.

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By partnering with Compassion, Daniel plans to continue advocating for the children in his local community and provide them with a new start to life. “I remember how people cared for me when I was little,” he says. “I want to care for the little ones in poverty as Compassion cared for me. I want to introduce them to Jesus.”

It is Daniel’s greatest prayer to also become a sponsor himself, someday. He wants to see the river keep flowing for future generations.

"Sometimes children are neglected, but I believe that when we care for them, they will emerge and be the future of our church,” he says. “It is my prayer that the blessing would continue to flow, that the river would keep on flowing.”

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Through the power of holistic child development with Compassion, stories like Daniel’s are possible. Will you join him in advocating for this worthy cause? You could help restore hope and a future to children living in poverty. Find out how you can become a sponsor today.

Words by Sarah Moore, with field reporting by Marcus Wong.