The extreme poverty faced by many families in the communities where Compassion works often pushes parents to their limits. For Carmen, her oppressive circumstances made her feel so trapped that she felt as though prostitution was her only choice. *Trigger warning: this contains content which may be confronting or distressing to some readers.*
01 Jun, 2016
Can you imagine the pain of not being able to provide for your children? The ache of sending them to bed hungry for yet another night as there’s no food to be shared. Watching the six of them crammed tightly together into a single bed because it’s the only one you have. There’s no one to help you. The father of four of your children was murdered; the other children’s father abandoned them. You have no job, no money, no opportunities, and no way to provide for your family.
Can you imagine the struggle? The fear?
How far would you go for the sake of your children?
“I had to figure out how to feed six children on my own. Job opportunities were scarce and desperation knocked at my door,” says Carmen* from Honduras. “I’m aware my method might not have been the right one and I regret it, but I didn’t have time for second guesses.”
Carmen turned to the only option she thought she had—prostitution.
The decision made her feel sick to her stomach but the alternative—letting her children starve—was unthinkable. But God had a different plan for Carmen’s life.
Sensing the family’s desperation, Compassion intervened. It was through a home visit to check on Oscar* and Pedro*, two of Carmen’s children who attend the local Compassion centre, when staff discovered the dire situation. Hearing the drastic measures Carmen was taking in order to feed her children, staff immediately provided the family with extra support through the Highly Vulnerable Children’s fund.
Carmen received groceries, extra beds for her children and zinc sheets to repair part of the roof of their house. On top of this, Carmen received a stove and supplies to start her own small business selling snacks, orange juice, and filtered drinking water.
Through this support, Carmen found a way to escape prostitution. She says she is so grateful to have a Compassion centre in her community, seeing the opportunities now available to her sons.
“I like how they are improving their behaviour and becoming men of God,” says Carmen.
At the Compassion centre, Oscar and Pedro—aged 13 and 10 respectively—learn about God, attend extracurricular classes and make friends. A strong relationship with their sponsors through encouraging letters helps the boys to dream of a bright future that’s now within their reach.
With two of her sons wanting to be doctors in order to help people, Carmen is hopeful for what the future holds—something she never thought possible just a few years ago.
“God answered my prayers. Words cannot express how blessed I felt [because of the Highly Vulnerable Children’s fund],” says Carmen. “Since then, my children have not missed school and food has always been on the table. I will be forever grateful.”
Through the Highly Vulnerable Children’s fund, children in Compassion’s programs who face high-risk situations are provided with the extra support and care required in order to see them thrive. Help us empower the local church to assist children like Oscar and Pedro through giving to The Highly Vulnerable Children's fund..
Words by Juana Ordoñez Martinez and Monique Wallace
Photos by Juana Ordoñez Martinez
*Names have been changed to protect identities.