Letter from the Country Director of Peru

Just like last week I shared the letter from the Country Director of Bolivia, this week I’m sharing the letter I received from the Country Director of Peru. All of these letters can also be found on your Compassion account on the profile page for any child you sponsor/correspond with. I have two children in Peru: I sponsor Angeles and correspond with Cristofer.

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“Dear Alisa, My name is Cristina Zavala, and I have been the country director of Compassion Peru since 2005. Compassion began ministering in Peru in 1984. We serve around 75,000 children through more than 250 partner churches. We want to open more opportunities this year, growing to serve more than 80,000 children.

My country has a rich history, beautiful places, and warm people, but also extreme poverty, broken families, and vulnerable children. Due to their living conditions and lack of economic resources, children face hard situations of abuse and neglect that erode their self-esteem and sense of belonging. The difference in a sponsored child is mainly the impact of being loved and cared for by people who value and give him or her dignity in a safe environment.

The economic situation works against families and parents, pulling them away from their children when the situation is pressing. They leave their children alone with little protection and supervision. Access to education, medicine, and potable water is still limited in the most impoverished regions of Peru. Some villages don’t have medical centers, or the facilities lack staff. Other areas get water directly from rivers or contaminated water channels. Young people have no opportunity to learn marketable skills, and no dreams of progress and development.

We want to change the situation. We are working to help children improve their reading, writing, and math learning and to learn and develop healthy habits. Little ones who first arrive at the child development center often suffer from malnutrition. We are working with complementary funds to offer filtered and safe water. Together wit hotel church partners, we talk to government institutions to improve medical care centers, and we keep on teaching Christian values and principles. We are also coordinating scholarships with private technical schools and helping young people to study a technical career such as computing, accounting, etc., or to study a major in college.

We also teach leadership courses to outstanding students. One young man who will complete the program this year faced many troubles as a sponsored child. His father is an alcoholic, and his mother did not want to hear a word about God. But this young man found affection, care, and shelter at the center. He had the chance to learn work skills; now he is going to school to study bakery and pastry, and he is also a leader in his church. From being immersed in poverty, he has discovered his great potential, and he now has big dreams. Another young man received a social volunteer entrepreneur honor from the United Nations for organizing teachers to give school tutoring in impoverished parts of Lima.

Children who enjoy a relationship with their sponsors feel the love and care of people who value them and give them dignity and the desire for a different future. Having a sponsor makes children very happy. They think sponsors are relatives who live very far away but send letters that bring them closer. Sponsors’ letters have a high emotional value for children; when they get a letter, they feel they have some physical token from their sponsors. Please write your child as often as you can.

Our partner churches are also ministering to their own communities by creating work opportunities and education and development programs that radically change families’ inappropriate ways of living. Join us in prayer for every church partner that is working hard and doing such an amazing job.

I want to express my gratitude to you for your continued love and support for Angeles and Cristofer. Together we can offer the valuable gift of hope to change the lives of the voiceless and suffering ones.

In Jesus Christ, Cristina Zavala”

A long awaited letter from Angeles!

Guess which letter finally came through? The one I’ve been waiting on since January! Yes, that’s right, January. It’s been in the system “in translation since then. It’s now August. The letter discusses Christmas preparations. But I’m just so glad to finally have received it!

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Angeles is 7 and lives in Peru.

The letter template is Christmas in My Country. She celebrates Christmas with her parents and siblings, and celebrates at the Student Center. They have a Christmas lunch there, where they have Christmas cake and hot chocolate. The letter says “Dear Godmother, Hello! I hope you have fully recovered from your surgery. My family and I are in good health. Thank you for your letters. I want to tell you that I have two siblings that I play with. At school I play with my friends and my teacher is good. I promptly attend the Student Center where I learn how to pray and sing songs. Please continue to pray for the well-being of my family. I will close with a kiss and a hug. Blessings, Angeles”

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The new school year has officially started and I’m back to the daily grind. I have a new batch of cute little preschoolers that I adore already, and I’m already feeling the exhaustion. But I love what I do, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Letter from the Country Director of Bolivia

Awhile back, letters from the Country Directors for all of our sponsored kids were sent out. I got a big envelope filled with wonderful letters about all the great work Compassion is doing in different countries. I’m going to start sharing these on the blog, and first up is Bolivia’s!

I have nothing but fantastic things to say about Compassion Bolivia, from the amazing photographs of the children to the quality of the letters to the wonderful tutors- it’s clear they’re doing fantastic work there. I sponsor my beloved Elvis in Bolivia, and my close relationship with him is why Bolivia is at the top of my list for a future Compassion trip (here’s hoping they offer one in the summer soon!).

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“Dear Alisa,

My name is Mario Vásquez, and I’ve been working for Compassion for about 30 years. I started as an errand boy, and 21 years ago, I became Country Director for Bolivia.

Thank you for your support to change the future of Elvis through your faithfulness. Sponsorship is God’s tool to shape and transform lives. There are two groups of heroes: the first are this great host of sponsors and donors who give their money in faith. The Bible says that whoever gives to the poor lends to God (Proverbs 19:17). The second is the staff at the child development centers who work daily with the children, providing a safe environment where children can come to know God’s purpose for their lives.

In Bolivia, the main challenges children face rise from a lack of role models in their families. Most of our children live in overcrowded conditions with few basic utilities, vulnerable to all kinds of dangers. The older children take care of the younger, because their parents go out to work. Many also suffer violence from their own parents under the pretext of discipline. Sadly, in Bolivia, exercising violence against the most vulnerable is part of the culture. Schools and health care centers are far away. Thus, the child development centers become an oasis for the children.

There is significant different between children who were sponsored through Compassion and those who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the program. One sponsored child completed here university degree; she helps her family, supports her church, and is now mentoring other children in the program. But she sadly said that none of her other siblings completed university, and that the eldest already has a family and too many responsibilities she finds it difficult to fulfill.

The work that the churches and centers do is highly valued in the communities. For example, we encourage churches that have been working with us for a long time (15 to 20 years) to plant other churches and centers in areas outside the city. These new churches are welcomed in the new communities. The community leaders look to them with much hope for all the children in the area.

The sponsor-child relationship is invaluable. The letters help their self-esteem grow incredibly. I heard the testimony of a young woman who has a birthmark covering much of her face. When she was a child, she was bullied by other children, who called her ‘werewolf’. But a miracle happened, because her sponsor did not stop writing and telling her she was beautiful. This encouragement through letters helped her so much that the girl has come to feel comfortable with her birthmark. She is now a professional who works with other young people, helping provide leadership training.

I can see the fruits of this ministry. I remember the faces of children at the center, and now I see them all grown up: pastors, doctors, and other responsible people. When I learn that they are faithful people, no longer living in poverty, who see their future with hope and optimism, I see God’s power. My goal is to give to Bolivia citizens who represent God’s kingdom well, who are good children, good parents, good husbands and wives, good bosses, good workers, and good citizens- men and women who desire to serve others and not just serve themselves.

This ministry works to expand God’s kingdom. It is not an easy task. Please pray for your child and all children in Bolivia who live in poverty and vulnerability, so that God gives wisdom to all of us working to do His will.

Thank you for your support for Elvis, which is fundamental. I would like to encourage you to keep on supporting your child, knowing that your investment is invaluable.

In Jesus, Mario Vásquez”

 

love this letter ❤

Introducing Ramya

While I have been talking about some smaller organizations, there was one that was not new to me. I had heard about it before and know several people who sponsor through it. The Organization is called United with Hope. They work in India, which my heart still breaks for after Compassion was sadly forced to end their work in the country. United with Hope is also a Christian organization, but since they are so much smaller and just work with one community, they are able to continue operating. The person who runs the ministry is a Compassion sponsor herself. Knowing all of this, and seeing others’ pictures of beautiful Indian children, I’ve always been pulled to want to sponsor with them. But it took me awhile- over a year. Honestly, I think it’s because it was very hard to find up to date information on the websites or Facebook pages on how to sponsor or which children were available. I guess it was good that I waited, though, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have Ramya. On one of the Facebook pages, there were some children in an album listed as needed sponsors a month ago. I messaged the page to see if Ramya was still available. I got invited to a private Facebook group that is kept up to date, found out she was available, and sponsored her.

There are a couple different programs United with Hope has that you can sponsor a child (or widow) through. I sponsor Ramya through the tutoring program. It is run by the pastor of the church. Sponsorship is $10 a month and gives the children tutoring and meals 6 days a week. There is a very low literacy rate in the area and many children are unable to go to school. You can also purchase extra gifts through a store on their website to send to your child, along with sending letters and packages.

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Ramya is the younger sister of another girl who was already attending the program, and now she is old enough to attend, too. She is 6 years old. I already have TONS of photos of her! These are just a few:

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The girls having fun

Receiving a backpack and school supplies

Participating in lessons

Receiving food

Introducing a New Correspondent

I have a beautiful new correspondent child, but not through Compassion. Like I had talked about smaller organizations when I shared about The Bridge of Hope, I also discovered another smaller organization: Revive a Rural African Child. This Christian organization is run voluntarily by one man with a huge heart for the children of Uganda. Eddy runs Revive a Rural African Child, and he cares for the children and has started the Visionary Learning Center, a place for children to study and learn that is run by teachers and volunteers. They are in the process of building a library. What is different about RRAC is that there is no sponsoring of children; only penpals. I was definitely intrigued how this worked.

You can sign up to be a penpal to a maximum of two children, and you send the letters directly to Uganda. You can also send packages. Since you aren’t sponsoring the child financially, only corresponding, you should be committed to writing regularly before signing up. While there is no monthly sponsorship commitment, there is obviously a cost for Eddy to send out mail to us, as well as to pick up each package at the post office that he receives, so there is a way to donate. But there is no set amount, and you can give what you have to give when you have extra to give if you want to; there is no requirement or obligation. Now, keep in mind that if you are used to corresponding with children through an organization like Compassion, RRAC is obviously different, because it’s run by one person and not hundreds. Eddy is very busy with the children, as he should be. He is fantastic, though, at providing updates on the work he is doing, and posts photos and videos with explanations several times a day! As a new supporter of this ministry, I love getting to learn about all the wonderful things they are doing and learning! Just look at the Facebook page to see some examples!

If you would like to be a penpal or find out more, there is a Facebook group to join: Revive a Rural African Child Penpals, that is separate from the main page. Some lovely ladies volunteer their time to help run the group and match penpals and children. They just posted a very informative FAQ post, that explains a lot!

After learning all of this, I decided to sign up to be a penpal. I figured I’d start with one child for now, and then add another in the future. Since there isn’t anything to go by but a list of names/gender/ages, I trusted that God would lead me to the right name. My new penpal is Nusura, and she is 6 years old. My heart melted when Eddy sent me this picture!

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I just love this photo with this beautiful smiling girl holding this sweet note! I can’t wait to get to know her better!

I sent her a letter as quickly as I could, although I’m sure it will take some time to arrive in Uganda. Eddy lets us know and takes pictures when he receives anything. Nervous about sending a package on my own, I thought I’d try sending one through Amazon Global. It took quite awhile to find something that would actually ship to Uganda- many things don’t, even in Amazon Global- a fact that you don’t find out until you’re partway through checkout. But finally I was able to send something through. It’s one of my favorite kids books ever “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes”. My students loooove Pete the Cat, so I figured she would too. It’s just something small, but it’s a start to see how it goes through. And I was able to send a gift message with it.

I spotted Nusura in a picture posted to the Facebook page recently of some of the kids receiving school supplies. Look at that smile!

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Letter from Alex’s Pastor

I received this letter earlier in the summer from the pastor of Alex’s center. It’s a lovely letter!

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Alex attends HA266

“Dear Alisa, My name is Ostiné Emile, I am the pastor of the Wesleyan church of Mango. We minister your child at the Child Development Center here. I pray that God is gracious and compassionate for you because of your sponsorship of Alex. Thanks to sponsors’ help many children in the community are accessible to school, hospital, and to God’s word.

Mango is located in the 1st rural section of Anse-á-Galets. It consists of about 1000 people. We do not have access to clean water, latrines, hospital, and roads. We have to walk a long way before finding some clean water. So, the poverty is ravaging that community. We cannot grow our gardens due to a lack of rain. It did not rain for ten months. We lost all our crops.

Without the church in the community, the situation would be worse. The church meets many problems like digging a cistern in order to save water during the drought season. Thanks to the presence of Compassion in the community, the poor condition of the parents is alleviated and many children can read, write, go to hospital and they can hear God’s Word. Also, we create jobs for some people in the community in order to meet their family’s needs. I congratulate every sponsor for this precious ministry for valuing the children. We love the children and we appreciate them. I advise them to become responsible.

I want you to know that the letters and photos mean a lot in the relationship between the sponsored children and their sponsors. It permits them to share piece of information about their family, their country, and their culture. Also, the letters allow the sponsors to inform about the children’s promotion at school, church, club, and in their family. It is very important for the children to know they are loved by receiving letters. I hope you know how valuable your words are and that you will write to Alex regularly.

We have a good staff that consists of teachers and instructors to teach the children Bible verses and stories about Jesus and Moses’ lives. My goal is to have an evangelical church that can transform the community and to make the children become valuable citizens, good Christian leaders, and to reinforce our partnership with Compassion. The children of the center are so different and privileged compared to those who are not part of it because they are transformed.

I cannot stop thanking sponsors for their supports towards the children in the world throughout Compassion International. Through this way they help the churches go further. At church, we are praying for you a lot so that God can bless you much more and give you good health. Please, pray for the children so that God can make a way for them and do efficient work in their lives and that they can always remain in Jesus.

I pray that God give you more blessing. I love you so much! Thanks!

In Christ, Ostiné Emile”

First Letter from Ingrid!

I was so excited to receive my first letter from Ingrid, less than 3 weeks after I sponsored her!! It used to take 4-6 months for a first letter, which would have been written before they knew who we were, and now I got one in under 3 weeks with her knowing my name! I’m still amazed at how fast the electronic scanning/writing on both ends has made communication.

I sponsored Ingrid after visiting her center and falling in love with it, knowing in my heart that I had to support it and sponsor a child there. The story of visiting Ingrid’s center and how I sponsored her can be found here.

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Ingrid Madaí is 6 and lives in Guatemala

The letter used the “Getting to Know Me Better” template. She is an only child, and it lists the names of her parents. She has brown eyes, and she asks for prayers for “her dad and his job and her house”. The letter says “Madaí greets you. She is so happy that you are her sponsor. She prays a lot for you. Madaí says May God protect, bless, and give you health. Madaí wants to ask you a question: what fruit do you like to eat? What is your favorite food? Madaí says goodbye. Written by Caty, tutor”

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Her question and drawing are adorable!

Letter from Mugisha’s Pastor

Earlier in the summer, I received a letter from the pastor of Mugisha’s center. I know that he lives in an area that is very much in need, so it was great to learn more about what the center is doing to help this community!

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Mugisha attends UG709

“Dear Alisa, I am Herbert Mujabwami, pastor of St. Andrew’s Cathedral Seseme in Muhabura Diocese, southwestern Uganda. We minister to Mugisha Isaac at the Seseme Child Development Center.

We are very grateful to you for the support that you continuously give to Mugisha. May our good Lord keep blessing you.

Our community has fertile soils but is densely populated, thus we have limited land for cultivation. It also has many cases of alcoholism and sexual immorality, which causes a high rate of HIV/AIDS infections. The church has a big responsibility of ministering to this community so that its members will receive Jesus as their personal savior.

The biggest challenge is that the children find it hard to get money for school, food, and sometimes even shelter. Being in town, many men go early in the morning to look for work and return late in the evening, so it is difficult to get them involved in our ministry.

The vision for the church and center is to equip all the people to extend the love of God to others and transform the community.

The center has demonstrated practical love to the children. We have supported children by providing medical treatment, hygiene training, education, social training, economic skills development, and spiritual discipleship. many children now have the skills to earn a living in the future. Others serve in the church in many ways, such as preaching the word of God. We have a formerly sponsored child who completed studies and is now working at one of our development centers and another one who is now working at the bank. We have several children who have graduated and attending colleges to study agriculture and nursing.

The church ministers to the community by reaching out to the elderly, helping in solving family conflicts, and giving pre-marital counseling. The church also teaches the youth and adults about self-reliance and good health practices. God is doing a lot of transformation in our community through this ministry.

Approximately 85% of our sponsored children’s families attend our church, 10% attend other churches, and about 5% are still struggling with faith and do not attend any church yet.

The relationship between children and sponsors is very important. The children, especially those who are orphans, feel the love of a parent when they receive a letter from their sponsors. They feel they have someone who cares for them and supports them. Thus, they have no fear about the future. Unfortunately, some children do not receive letters and they feel discouraged. So, we encourage all sponsors to please write to these little ones, as every word of love brings them great excitement.

We request that you pray for the children in the program and that all sponsors will keep supporting them. Pray also that parents will practice what they are taught, especially in doing work to complement the support Compassion is giving. Pray for our staff at all levels to remain committed to the program and that everyone in our community will maintain good health.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share with you through this letter. We thank you again for your generous support of Mugisha and for helping our ministry flourish. May the Lord bless you, keep you, and shine upon you.

Sincerely, Herbert Mujabwami”

Letter from Lucia’s Pastor

I recently received a letter from the pastor of Lucia’s center. It’s shorter than most, but still a great letter and full of love that he has for these kids. I always enjoy pastor letters as extra insight!

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Lucia attends ES781.

“Dear Alisa, My name is José Miguel Serrano. I am the pastor of Tabernáculo Bíblico Bautista Sinaí las Conchitas Church in La Libertad, El Salvador. I minister to Lucia at the accompanying Child Development Center.

I am thankful to God with all my heart for your sponsorship of Lucia and that you her happy.

Right now our community faces many problems such as poverty and violence. These two problems affect our children. Our church is working through the Center to reach the children and their families.

Our vision as church and Center is to help our children and young people to study in college and train them to be good men and women for our community. The Center has been a great tool to make our children’s families come to church and seek Jesus’ love. Right now our church has a Bible school on Sundays and we also have other beautiful ministries in the community.

The young people and the children from our Center really value the support that their sponsors provide. They get so excited when they receive a sponsor letter. The correspondence from sponsors is very important for children, they keep every letter they receive and place it in a special place. They save all letters they have received and become part of their valuable belongings. Every day they ask to the coordinator if they have received a letter. It is something very important for them.

I am so glad to write to you and I wish you the best in all your dreams and plans.

Thank you for loving Lucia. Blessings in Christ, Pastor Miguel Serrano”