Christmas is the most joyful time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Saviour. But in a country like El Salvador, where one-third of the population lives in poverty, many cannot afford to celebrate Christmas with special food and gifts.

Nine-year-old Genesis Grande’s face lit up with joy as she opened her special gift during the Christmas celebration at her local Compassion centre. She sat with her friend, sharing the special moment with someone else who knows how rare and treasured such presents are. Compassion assisted children eagerly await these special Christmas events, excited to celebrate the joy of Jesus’ birth with their friends, family and staff at the Compassion centre.

As Genesis began taking the items one by one out of the big bag, her eyes dazzled with excitement. “I received a new backpack!” exclaimed Genesis.

“And inside there were coloring pencils, oh how I love coloring.”

For the Grande family, Christmas has always been a time for sharing their love for one another, but without the special tradition of exchanging gifts.

“I cannot afford to buy her the pencils she needs, though God has provided through the [Compassion] project each and every time when there is a need.” says Sandra, Genesis’s mother.

“My husband stamps shirts in a factory and spends most of the day at work. I make a little income by selling fruit in small transparent plastic bags, plantain chips, and candy. I also make and sell crochet hair scrunchies,” says Sandra.

Even though the Sandra and her husband work hard to earn an income, together they generate a monthly income of just US$160. Desperately wanting to help her family, Genesis has also begun learning how to crochet, so that she can help generate income by making scrunchies.

What happens if you can’t afford to celebrate Christmas? Genesis standing with her mother, Sandra, at the front of their house.

While the family struggle to provide gifts at Christmas, they know that Genesis won’t miss out. Their only child will always have the opportunity to celebrate the joy of Jesus’ birth when she receives her gift at her local Compassion centre’s Christmas celebration. Sandra recalls her daughter’s reaction to the first Christmas gift delivered to the Compassion centre when she was three.

“My daughter received the cutest tiny shoes I’ve ever seen,” says Sandra.

“She looked beautiful. Genesis was happy, running everywhere. It was truly special, I could only thank God for that.”

Last Christmas, along with her special gift, Genesis also received a letter from her sponsors, telling her that she is loved, and they are praying for her.
“I love my sponsors because they pray for me and my family,” says Genesis.

“I know they think of me because they send me letters often, they remember my birthday and send me Christmas presents.

“I’m thankful for all the presents my sponsors have sent and I pray for them because I love them very much. I pray that God will bless them every day and I wish them a Merry Christmas, too!”

What happens if you can’t afford to celebrate Christmas? Genesis shows her Christmas present: a set of beautiful colouring pencils.

You can help give all children registered with Compassion their very own gift this Christmas when you donate to the Christmas Gift Fund. Give a gift today.

Field reporting & photos by by Nora Diaz; words by Ellyse McCallum

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