"Let us not live with words or speech but with actions and in truth."-1 John 3:18. Through the act of giving, we can change the life of a family in poverty. And it's as simple as a gift.

When we say 'gift', we don't mean the beach towel you snag for your birthday every year or the traditional socks and underwear you're stocked with over Christmas (thanks Nanna!). We mean the type of gift that can help someone live day-to-day and provide them with a new hope for their future.

These are the gifts that tell people they are valued; that God sees them and knows them by name; and that they are worthy of blessing.

And we're uniquely placed to be the gift givers. At Compassion, we have a wonderful community of supporters who not only give through sponsorship, but also generously donate beyond this to support the child's family. Here are just a few of the inspiring stories of the life-changing gifts these children and their families have received:

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Frank, 8, Rwanda

Frank and his family live in a remote community in Rwanda that's a rocky four-hour drive from the nearest town, Rusizi. To see a car is rare in their villiage, and Frank and his four siblings have never been to their neighbouring town. The family's life was steeped in poverty.

"Life was so tough. Our family usually had only one meal a day. And sometimes, we would go for days without any food," shares Frank's mother, Martha.

But registration in the local Compassion program saw their lives change "in a split second", describes Martha.

"We received a mattress, bedsheets and a blanket. We also were given food supplies including posho [cornmeal], sugar, beans and cooking oil at least once a month. God answered our prayers."

Over the years, Frank's sponsor has generously blessed him with financial birthday gifts and monetary gifts for his family. With these gifts, the family has been able to renovate their house, buy a cow for milk to consume and sell, and purchase a small plot of land to cultivate.

"Before Frank's enrolment in the program, his family was living an unhappy life, but today they are joyous," says Festus Niyomunezero, director of the local Compassion centre.

Martha says the family has one desire: "Our wish is for Frank's sponsor to come and visit us so she can see for herself the change in our household."

Paschal, 15, Tanzania

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

When Paschal was registered in the program at 15, he was not immediately sponsored. But whilst enjoying the many benefits the local Compassion centre in Tanzania still offered him, he received news that he'd been sponsored through a photo the family was given.

"I was so excited. I started exchanging letters and photos with my sponsor, and the relationship grew stronger. Every time my sponsor sent a letter, he also sent a photo," says Paschal.

The sponsorship did not end with letters and photos. Paschal's sponsor began sending gifts which allowed the family to buy food and clothes for him. And the gifts kept coming!

After receiving a large sum of 450,000 Tanzanian Shillings (A$319), the entire family's lives truly began to change.

"We discussed with the project centre how best to use the money. They advised us to use the money to do something with a long-lasting impact. Because we had secured a plot of land, we decided to start collecting building materials. We bought a [truckload] of building stones and burnt bricks and [we also bought] clothes for Paschal," says his sister, Rachel.

Further large gifts followed, which allowed the family to complete the foundation and walls of their house. Now, it's ready for a roof!

"I feel good for the house, and I thank the sponsor of my child," says Paschal's mother, Esther. "This is a big change that has occurred in my life after my child has been sponsored. I had no hope of building a house today or even in the near future. I thank the sponsor and his family. We pray that God will continue to enable them, and they should know that they are in our prayers."

Thanks to your ongoing generosity, the lives of families living in poverty all over the world are being changed. Not only do your gifts ease financial burdens, they also show families that they are loved, appreciated, and valued.

If you would like to send more blessings beyond sponsorship, you can give a gift to your sponsored child through My Account.

Words by Cassie Holland

Photos by Doreen Umutesi and Charles Ngowi