What Possessions Do Children Living in Poverty Treasure Most?
From remote, isolated tribal communities to bustling cities and crowded slums, 10 children in our Child Sponsorship Program share their treasured possessions. These are their beautiful, surprising and funny answers.
12 Apr, 2018
When asked about their favourite possession, there was one thing all of the children's answers had in common. What they valued most wasn't necessarily new, or shiny, or expensive. Instead, it was connected to an emotion: a precious memory, a feeling of dignity, a sense of joy.
These children may have little in life, but they say they have a lot to thank God for.
1. Gaudencio, Philippines: My Water Buffalo
It's not a present that most 12-year-old boys would have on their wish list, but Gaudencio's buffalo has transformed how his family farms. A gift from his sponsor, the carabao, as it is known in the Philippines, is a blessing for the family who work the land of their rural community.
"I can't imagine farming without a carabao," says Cecilia, Gaudencio's mum. "I can't overstate how helpful this is to our family. It is easier to till the land and plant crops. Not many families here have one, and this one," she says, pointing to Gaudencio's pet, "is actually owned by a 12-year-old boy!"
2. Adelia, Indonesia: My Cheeky Dog
Adelia's cheeky doggo Kopi is named for his coffee-coloured fur. Her pet doubles as security for the family's home while her parents work in the fields, and as a favourite playmate.
"Kopi is our friend at home," she says. "He also loves to bite my brother's butt but it's not serious! It's just the way Kopi plays with us. I can tell him anything and he is always listening."
3. Aekreetoo, Thailand: My Karen Shirt
Aekreetoo lives in a remote village on the mountainside of Salween national park, a world away from Western influences. Unlike most boys his age, eight-year-old Aekreetoo doesn't have toys to play with at home. He invents elaborate games with his friends and plays with the toys at his Compassion centre once a week.
He was eager to show us his pink traditional Karen shirt-a birthday gift from his sponsor. In Karen culture, wearing traditional dress to church is a sign of respect and dignity.
"I never had any birthday gifts before in my life! I am so happy and joyful," he says with a big smile.
4. Jake, Philippines: My Family's Pump-boat
Not too long ago, Jake's father, Junel, feared for his life whenever he went fishing to provide for his family. Unable to paddle far enough to reach the far-off places that teemed with fish, he was forced to stay close to shore. If a storm broke, he needed to return quickly or risk capsizing. A financial gift from Jake's sponsor to the family changed everything. Junel used the gift to buy a pump-boat with a brand-new engine. They named the boat the 'Triple J' after their sons James, 10, Jopel, nine, and seven-year-old Jake. Now Junel can fish deeper out to sea, earning more income and giving his family peace of mind about his safety. "We consider ourselves so blessed to receive such a gift," the family says.
5. Pimchanok, Thailand: The River
The most meaningful possession for 15-year-old Pimchanok isn't a possession at all, but the river by her home. It's her family's laundry, bath, and, for a few precious months each year when the river level is low enough, their swimming pool.
"It's one of our most prized possessions that we ever had," she says. "Me, my brother and sister didn't know how to swim when we first moved to our grandparents' village. We had to learn by ourselves how to swim. We love swimming so much and get so excited every evening in the summer and dry season that we can go to swim at the river."
6. Sumaiya, Bangladesh: My Sketch Book
Bright Sumaiya is one of the eldest girls at her Compassion centre, where her translation work earns her a little income for art supplies. Her drawing book is her favourite possession.
"I feel alive when I am sketching or doing a craft work, as God has gifted me the ability to see the beauty of the small things that are around." She says she is thankful for the support of her family and her sponsor, whose encouragement has helped her to develop her artistic skills.
7. Ravia, Indonesia: My Mum
"My parents can't afford to buy things whenever I want or request because the money is just for buying food and renting a boarding house," Ravela explains. Her pink plush bunnies are special gifts from an aunt. More special, though, is her treasured relationship with her mum. The toy rabbits could be replaced, she says, but not her mother. "I love and adore my mother because she is working every day and is always smiling."
8. Pranto, Bangladesh: My School Uniform
Eight-year-old Pranto lives with his aunt and grandmother, who works at a local garment factory and does her best to make ends meet. His favourite possession is his school uniform.
"The most favourite thing that I possess is my school uniform, because I look my best in it, and when I go school everyone wears the same uniform, which makes me feel equal to everyone," Pranto explains. "Another reason why it is my favourite possession is because my grandmother sewed my uniform with her own hands, using the cloth I received from the [Compassion program] funds."
9. Ramina, Bangladesh: My Doll
Her family have lovingly named little Ramina 'Pakhi', meaning bird. The family lives close to the slums on the outskirts of bustling Dhaka city. Her father sells bricks and sand bags; her mother is a housewife. "I love my pretty doll, which is like my best friend who is always beside me," she says. "When I get the opportunity, I take my doll to the school to show it to my friends and we play together. When no one is around to play with, my doll has always been with me."
10. Phithawat, Thailand: My Bike and My Bible
Phithawat's village is on the banks of the Salween River in northern Thailand. It has no electricity, no internet and no telephone connection: only a satellite phone for emergencies. Most children spend their time playing outside in the woods or fishing at the brook. Once a week, for a treat, they will watch a movie at school or their Compassion centre.
His favourite possession is his bicycle, a gift from his father. The bike is the only memento Phithawat has of him-he lives in a different country. Another treasured possession is the Bible he received from Compassion, translated into Karen, his own language. "I love to read God's story. The other Bibles I have seen don't have cartoons or pictures, only text, but my new Bible is full colour and has kid's animation pictures inside. I am so excited and I read it every day and take it to church."
If you'd like to give your sponsored child a gift that they will treasure, you can give a one-off financial gift to your sponsored child's family. Our local child development centre staff with sit down with your sponsored child's family to discuss what they need and purchase the gift on your behalf. For family gifts, 100 per cent of your donation will go to your sponsored child and their family.
You can give a family gift through My Account today.
Words by Piyamary Shinoda and Zoe Noakes
Photos and Interviews by Piyamary Shinoda (Thailand), Jarvis Sangma (Bangladesh), Vera Aurima (Indonesia) and Edwin Estioko (Philippines).