Every morning Maria wakes up joyfully. She does her homework, feeds the ducks, has lunch and gets ready for school. There is security and peace in her voice, and she smiles like everything has always been good. Both her parents work all day. Her mother works as a farmer in a rice field from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and her father works as a taxi driver until late at night. Maria goes to a Child Development Center located in northern Peru. This is the happiest place for Maria, because she receives love, has good friends and most importantly, where she has come to know Jesus as her Savior and has started a long-distance but emotionally close relationship with her sponsors. Sponsorship became a key tool for Maria when she experienced the saddest time of her life. Maria never imagined that her sponsors’ words would help her overcome that day. Maria’s parents had a lot of conflicts in their marriage. One day her father decided to leave Maria and her mom to start a new life away from them. Poverty increased at home because her dad was the only support. Maria’s mom found a job in the field, but it meant leaving Maria alone at home. It was a risky situation for a 10-year-old child but there was no other way, as Maria had to continue with school and the Compassion project.
“It was difficult for me to leave Maria alone at home, and I prayed on my way to work that the Lord would be with her and make her understand that she would be ok. Thanks to God, there was a sister from church who lives near my house, and she offered to check on Maria from time to time. It was a relief,” said Maribel, Maria’s mom.
Maria’s mom arrived home from work at 4 p.m. when Maria was at school, but they always spent the night together. Everything seemed to be working well; Maria was getting adjusted to being alone at home some days in the mornings because the rest of the days, she was at church or school. She learned to be responsible for doing her homework and house chores and getting ready for school. However, one night her father appeared.
“My dad came one night with a police officer, saying that he was taking me to an orphanage because my mom was not able to take care of me and that I was abandoned. He said he was sorry for doing that, but he didn’t want me to grow up alone and he was not able to take care of me either. I felt my heart beating fast and I was scared. My mom called the project director, and he immediately came with a lawyer,” said Maria.
Thanks to the immediate support of the project, Maria and her mother received the necessary advice from the lawyer and everything turned out for good. Maria stayed at home with her mom, but her heart was marked by rejection and loneliness.
“I was sad because I felt rejection from my dad,” said Maria. “I started to cry, thinking that I was not loved by my dad. So I went to my bedroom and I saw my sponsors’ letters. I grabbed one of them and they said they were proud of me. I continue reading all of them, and their words were so timely they lifted me up,” said Maria.
The CDC also helped Maria with spiritual support, and she recovered from it quickly. “What has really helped Maria to get better from this situation are God and the relationship with her sponsors,” said Gilberto, the CDC director. “She has received many letters before and after the incident, and she has felt so valued and loved. That’s the importance of sponsorship, because children do not only get monetary support from their sponsors, but [they get] emotional support and that’s stronger. Friendship is stronger than money.” Sponsorship and letters have impacted Maria’s life. She has been touched by the generosity and love from her sponsors, and she is growing up on the right path.
“I am thankful to my sponsors because they make my heart really happy. They write me letters and send me gifts to cover my needs. Every time I receive a letter from them, I thank God for their lives,” said Maria. “Through their letters, they have taught me many things; for example, I didn’t use to pray as I pray now. My sponsors always pray for me, and I have learned to pray for my dad as well. I prayed that my father will come to Jesus, and my dad is changing. He has repented and I love him.”
Through sponsorship, Maria has understood the meaning of love and acceptance. Two months ago, Maria’s father returned home. He repented for leaving the house and has asked for one opportunity to change and become a new family. Maria and her mom forgave and accepted him back, and they are becoming a solid family now. Maria’s parents continue working all day and she stays at home. Smiling, she sits on her bed and reads her sponsors’ letters again and again. This closeness allowed God to come into Maria’s heart, and she has decided to keep on extending those arms to other children in need.
“I want to sponsor a child when I grow up; I want to help children as I get help. Many children need what I am receiving now, and I am willing to [help them],” said Maria with a big smile on her face.
This situation has made of Maria a mature child, and she has dreams to reach. She is not afraid of her future.
“I am sure I will reach my goals with God’s help and the support of my sponsors. One of my future goals is to become a fashion designer. At the moment I am going to school. I study hard, I get good grades and I also talk to my friends about God,” said Maria.
Sponsorship is a wonderful tool from God to change and save many lives, bringing more children to Christ and sowing generosity in their hearts. In the case of Maria, sponsorship has changed rejection and loneliness into acceptance and friendship.