Shamim, 25, Uganda
At nine years old, Shamim lost her hearing, a tragic consequence of not receiving treatment for malaria and mumps. But Shamim didn’t let her loss of hearing stop her from helping others. Today she is a graduate of Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program and the founder of ‘Sherinah’s New Hope for Children with Disabilities’ empowering 25 children with disabilities to dream big.
“The support and hope Compassion has given me in my life has motivated me to love and care for children with disabilities. Without Compassion, I couldn’t be where I am. Because I grew up seeing many children with disabilities who have not succeeded in life, and how the community minimises them and treats them with negativity, I wanted to form a ministry to help these children and change their disability into ability.”
Esmeralda, 23, Mexico
Esmeralda still remembers nights as a little girl when she stuffed plastic bags into the cracks of her home’s floor to keep the cold winter wind at bay. Her father worked as a cobbler and her mother gathered recyclable plastic, cardboard and newspapers to sell.
From a shy young girl living in poverty to a university graduate, Esmeralda now serves as secretary and sponsorship coordinator at the Compassion child development centre at her local church. She helps children write letters to their sponsors and keeps their records in order, helping children just as she was helped.
“My motivation is to think that when I get old, I will see the children I once had in class or the ones I served at the child development centre being professionals. I want to see these children in need, succeed.”
Febri Anita, 21, Indonesia
Born in Malang, East Java, Febri never dreamed that one day she would be studying in metropolitan Jakarta. Especially when her parents told her at age eight they could no longer afford to send her to school. But with Compassion’s help and a lot of determination, Febri is the first person in her family and neighbourhood to attend university, a step towards her goal of teaching children.
“I can shape my dreams in the right way, aligning them with what God wants in my life. I want to be an early childhood expert using a holistic approach, to understand the law to protect children while teaching them through fun educational methods.
“Someday I want to open a free school for children in a developing area of Indonesia, like Papua or another remote place.”
Elanca, 9, Haiti
With her beautiful bright mind and leadership qualities, nine-year-old Elanca takes the lead on morning devotions for children in the child development centre she is registered with. She tutors other children to help them memorise Bible passages and motivates her parents to get involved in church activities. Her proud father says she is a strong role model for her six-year-old sister, Cherlanska, and is helping her learn to read, too.
“Reading the Bible as the book that I like the most is a blessing for me because its writings inspire me a lot in my daily walk with my God. My dream is to become an engineer and build a house for my parents. I want to serve God for the rest of my life and I also want to bring many children in my neighbourhood to Jesus.”
Vivian, 22, Tanzania
Orphaned at a young age and forced out of home by her aunt, Vivian and her younger sister found shelter at the local church’s Compassion centre. With encouragement and support from the centre staff, Vivian finished school and is now a second year student at the Institute of Finance Management, Dar es Salaam, studying a Bachelor of Science in Social Security and Protection. She believes she can give back to society by helping children living in poverty.
“I have always wanted to be a sociologist so that I can help people live a quality life. The course I am studying is very fit for me, because I want to help people and eventually start an orphanage to help disadvantaged children. I know I can help children reach their potential, as I was supported to reach my potential.”
Patricia, 16, the Philippines
From 10 years old, Patricia began putting into practice what she was learning at the child development centre she attended. She formed her own Bible study group for younger children in her neighbourhood. Now, Patricia is studying hard and wants to become a hotel or restaurant manager. She is still leading others and tutors a class if young students at the centre.
“I learned from our centre director that we should tell people about Jesus, and so I did. Back then, our neighbours thought it was just child’s play … but now I am 16 years old and I still have my own Bible study. My neighbours still come to me for advice.
“I am so thankful to my sponsor. If not for their help, I might not be the person I am today.”
Words by Amy Millar