Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Feature! - Fernando, Lizzy, Suraj, Cika, Carole, Emer, Jaaziel, Helen

Happy Friday!

The following children have been waiting for sponsors for over six months! End their wait today! :)

Meet Fernando:
Age: 10
Waiting for: 347 days
Location: Masaya, Nicaragua
Lives with: stepfather, mother, two siblings
Parent job/income: laborer/$94 per month
Responsibilities: making beds, running errands, cleaning
Enjoys: playing musical instruments, art, soccer
Change his story today!

Meet Lizzy!
Age: 8
Waiting for: 316 days!
Location: San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Lives with: father, mother, two siblings
Parent job/income: laborer/$157 per month
Responsibilities: cleaning
Enjoys: playing with dolls, playing ball games
Change her story today!

Meet Suraj!
Age: 5
Waiting for: 408 days!
Location: Delhi, India (an area with risk of child rights violations)
Lives with: father and mother
Parent job/income: laborer/$50 per month
Responsibilities: helping in kitchen, running errands
Enjoys: hide-and-seek
Change his story today!

Meet Cika!
Age: 8
Waiting for: 316 days!
Location: Intai Melyan, Indonesia
Lives with: father, mother, three siblings
Parent job/income: plantations/$110 per month
Responsibilities: cleaning
Enjoys: jumping rope, bicycling
Change her story today!

Meet Carole!
Age: 6
Waiting for: 286 days!
Location: Bobo-dioulasso, Burkina Faso (area prone to child rights violations and AIDS)
Lives with: father, mother, two siblings
Parent job/income: farmer/seller in market/$22 per month
Responsibilities: running errands
Enjoys: singing, playing with dolls, listening to music
Change her story today!

Meet Emer!
Age: 8
Waiting for: 408 days!
Location: Chiclayo, Peru
Lives with: father, mother, one sibling
Parent job/income: farmer/$195 per month
Responsibilities: running errands
Enjoys: playing with cars, hide-and-go-seek
Change his story today!

Meet Jaaziel!
Age: 10
Waiting for: 408 days!
Location: San Sebastian Rio Hondo, Mexico
Lives with: father, mother, four siblings
Parent job/income: farmer/$146 per month
Responsibilities: running errands, carrying water, cleaning
Enjoys: soccer, playing with marbles, reading
Change his story today!

Meet Helen!
Age: 15
Waiting for: 198 days!
Location: Managua, Nicaragua
Lives with: father, grandmother
Parent job/income: factories/$115 per month
Responsibilities: running errands, cleaning
Enjoys: swimming, singing, playing house
Change her story today!

If none of these children speak to your heart, I invite you to find one that does. If you are unable to sponsor a child, please pray over these children and that they find loving sponsors soon!
San Pedro Sula
Masaya
Masaya

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Message to Myself as a Child

It hasn't been very long since I was a child - I'm only 21-years-old. In many ways, I still consider myself to be partially a child. I certainly don't see myself as a full-fledged adult yet :) I think we're all still somewhat in a state of being a child - at least we should be. Many people shy away from this idea. We want to be bold and courageous and independent free thinking adults. I'm not saying that's bad - but there's something unique about children. Children are learning, and children are growing. I think we should all be in a state of learning and growing.

When I was a child, I was afraid to get in trouble. I was afraid of what others thought of me. I was shy. I was reserved. When I was a Daisy Scout in Kindergarten I didn't play the games with the other little girls, I sat at a table and colored with my friend.

It hasn't been until these last few years of college that I've learned how to change that view. I've learned to get out of my own way and simply be myself.

If I could go back and tell elementary school Carly something - I would tell her to speak up. I would tell her that your ideas matter, that you're smart, that you're able, and just because you prefer reading to playing tag, doesn't make you any less than anyone around you. Being the first to raise your hand in class and honestly enjoying school isn't a bad thing! At all! Just because you wear glasses, don't always match your clothes, and sometimes forget that it's important to brush your hair - doesn't mean that you are any less than anyone else around you. Just because you're not a Disney Princess - doesn't mean that you're not a princess to God.

I don't mean to say that I was a self-conscious, unhappy little girl. I wasn't. I was comfortable with myself, but I was also very aware that I wasn't like a lot of the other girls. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't popular. And those things probably weren't going to change. But maybe if I had that push of self-assurance - that everything that I am is okay, that there is nothing wrong with the way that I am, and that it's actually a Good thing that I'm not like every other girl. Maybe I would be different now.

Then there is middle school and every little thing is a big thing and the smallest things might be the end of the world entirely. A poorly planned outfit or a pimple could be complete and utter deal-breakers. Being friends with anyone of the opposite sex meant you were dating and was filled with awkward prying, gossip, and embarrassment.

If I could go back and tell middle school Carly something - I would tell her to not be afraid. I would tell her that you're not weird - you're you, what other people think about you shouldn't affect how you choose to live, that your interests and goals are awesome - and to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF because nothing is impossible. I would tell her to be bold and unafraid, because the weird waters of middle school don't last forever and you are perfect the way you are.

Come high school a girl may no longer seem like a child in the same way she was as a little elementary student - but she is. There are still challenges abound and lessons to be learned. The path of self-discovery is far from over, and the battle to deeply and truly love yourself is far from won.

If I could go back and tell high school Carly something - I would tell her to get out of her own way. I would tell her to cherish the friends that make her feel good, and forget the ones that don't. Because if they don't challenge you, if they don't encourage you, if they don't support you, if they don't love you, if they don't inspire you, they aren't it - and you can do better. I would tell her how amazing she is - that her heart is HUGE and that she should learn to use it. I would tell her that she can do anything, that none of her dreams are too big, and that she should shout them from the rooftops. I would tell her that she is perfect because she is God's, and anyone that doesn't see that or turns her away from that isn't it. I would tell her that the opinions of others DO.NOT.MATTER. What matters is God. That you love God. That you love others. That you love yourself. Because you are amazing.

These lessons came to me slowly since being at college. I can finally say that I've fully embraced who I am, that I whole-hardheartedly love myself, and I would change nothing about who I am. I can finally say that I don't care if someone doesn't like me for who I am - because there is no use trying to change to please somebody else. I've learned to not be afraid to say what I feel and express who I am. I've learned to not be afraid to dream big and follow God in every walk of my life. I thank God every day for the person that He has made me, and I constantly look for opportunities to spread His love. I tell all three of my beautiful ladies these lessons I've learned with the hope that they can learn them, and embrace them when they are still children.

And guess what - you can do that for a child too. Take a look at these kids that are waiting for your love and guidance. You can change one of their stories today.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Feature - Fernando, Abi, Mutesi, Ovensnel, Edilson, Ronald, & Megan

Hello and welcome to my Friday Feature! The following seven children have been waiting for sponsors for almost a year and today you can become their sponsor! What's more - it's their birthday, so help make this one extra special.

Meet Fernando:
Age: 8
Location: Barrio La Guardia, Honduras
Lives with: mother, two siblings
Parent job/income: factories/$210 per month
Responsibilities: making beds, running errands, cleaning
Enjoys: Soccer, playing with cars, bicycling
Change his story today!


Meet Abi!
Age: 6
Location: Tondano, Indonesia
Lives with: father, mother, two siblings
Parent job/income: day laborers/$111 per month
Responsibilities: running errands
Enjoys: soccer
Change his story today!


Meet Mutesi!
Age: 7
Location: Kigasha, Rwanda (AIDS-affected area)
Lives with: father, mother, four siblings
Parent job/income: day laborers/$25 per month
Responsiblities: carrying water, gathering firewood
Enjoys: jumping rope, playing group games
Change her story today!


Meet Ovensnel!
Age: 7
Location: Deschapelles, Haiti
Lives with: father, mother, three siblings
Parent job/income: market sellers/$53 per month
Responsibilities: carrying water, buying/selling in the market
Enjoys: soccer, playing group games
Change his story today!


Meet Edilson!
Age: 7
Location: San Antonio, Bolivia (area with high risk for child's rights violations)
Lives with: father, mother, two siblings
Parent job/income: day laborers/$150 per month
Responsibilities: running errands
Enjoys: playing with cars
Change his story today!


Meet Ronald!
Age: 8
Location: Poblacion, Phillipines
Lives with: father, three siblings
Parent job/income: substinence farmers/$60 per month
Responsibilities: washing clothes, running errands, cleaning
Enjoys: basketball, playing with cars, telling stories
Change his story today!


Meet Megan!
Age: 6
Location: Toladan, Indonesia
Lives with: grandfather, grandmother, two siblings
Parent job/income: substience farmers/$53 per month
Responsibilities: running errands, cleaning
Enjoys: art
Change her story today!

I hope you are able to end the wait of one of these children and make their birthday with come true! If none of them speak to your heart, I invite you to find one that does. And if you are unable to sponsor a child, please pray for these children and that they are able to find sponsors soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Updates :)

Hello! I've been pretty quiet in the blog-world but here are some updates! :)

1. I completed my junior year of college in May after writing many long papers and suffering from I'm-so-ready-to-be-done fever.

2. In May I traveled to Belize - a non-Compassion country - with a group from my school for two weeks. It was a lot of fun! We helped in the schools, so I taught Language Arts lessons to a group of 6th graders and helped out in the classroom. We also had many fun adventures including visiting Mayan ruins, hiking, swimming, cave exploring, and snorkeling (with nurse sharks and sting-rays on one occasion!) I loved seeing all of God's beautiful creations and continuing to let God use me for the cause of children. It was tough going home!

3. This summer I came home and worked for the Boys & Girls Club. I love working there - especially when the kids are behaving :) I love being able to make a difference in the lives of children and know that I am helping set them on a good track for life!

4. When I wasn't working, I was studying for the GRE. I want to get my masters in clinical psychology and in order to get into graduate programs, you have to take the GRE (which is basically a glorified version of the ACT/SAT).

5. I've also been reading books for fun - The Help! Wow what a fantastic book! And studying Portuguese through an app I downloaded on my phone. I'm taking a Portuguese class this semester (can't wait!) but wanted to get a little head start. I hope to go to Brazil again next summer to visit my lady (saving a little every month!) and I would love to have some level of proficiency in the language before I go :)

6. I'm leaving for college again tomorrow - senior year! Crazy how time flies! It should be a busy, rewarding, fun semester. I've taken on some new leadership responsibilities that I'm really looking forward to. I also am looking forward to volunteering at more Compassion events, continuing to share about Compassion, and continuing to update this blog, because the goal is always the same - I want to help change the story for kids living in extreme poverty, and I want you to help me do it :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Water Statistics

How easy is it for you to get water? For most of us, we just turn on the sink, fill up our cup and enjoy. We turn on the shower and fresh water (hot or cold - our choice) can make us clean. We put our dishes in the dishwasher or our clothes in the washing machine, hit the right buttons, and we have clean dishes to eat off of and clean clothes to wear.

I think the majority of us take water for granted. We don't have to worry about where to get it, if it will be clean and safe.

So let's learn some statistics about water.

800 MILLION people do not have access to clean water (that's 3x the amount of people that live in the US)
3.4 MILLION people will die of a waterborne illness this year and 1.5 MILLION of them will be children
1 in 5  children worldwide DIE from diarrhea - that's more than AIDS, malaria, and measles COMBINED
Every 20 seconds a child will die of a water-related illness

Sound crazy? It's unfortunately true.

This week, I'm going to talk about water - what the reality is today and what YOU can do to make it better.

Let's change the world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Feature!! - Marvin, Kennedy, Byringiro, Alexander, & Liul

The following young men have been waiting for sponsors for over 320 days! Let's end their wait today.

Meet Marvin!
Marvin is 12-years-old and lives in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. He lives with his stepfather and mother (both are sometimes employed) and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed, but some work as laborers and earn about $50 per month. Marvin helps his family by making beds, running errands, or cleaning. For fun, he enjoys playing soccer, running, and reading. Change his story today!

Meet Kennedy!
Kennedy is 12-years-old and lives near Nueva ConcepciĆ³n, El Salvador. He lives with both parents and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed, but some work as laborers and earn about $100 per month. Kennedy helps his family by carrying water, making beds, and cleaning, For fun, he enjoys playing soccer, bicycling, and playing with marbles. Change his story today!

Meet Byringiro!
Byringiro is 12-years-old and lives near Nyagatare, Rwanda (an area prone to HIV/AIDS). He lives with his father (who is sometimes employed) and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn about $9 per month. Byringiro helps his family by carrying water and gathering firewood. He enjoys playing soccer and participates in choir at his project. Change his story today!

Meet Alexander!
Alexander is 5-years-old and lives near Managua, Nicaragua. He lives with both parents and two siblings. Most adults in this area work in agriculture or maintenance an earn about $134 per month. Alexander helps his family by cleaning. He enjoys playing soccer, playing with cars, and swimming. Change his story today!

Meet Liul!
Liul is 6-years-old and lives near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (an area prone to HIV/AIDS). He lives with his grandmother (who is not employed). Most adults in this area work as subsistence farmers and earn about $18 per month. He helps his family by running errands. For fun he enjoys playing soccer. Change his story today!

If none of these children speak to your heart, I invite you to find one that does. If you are unable to sponsor a child, please pray over these children and that they will find loving sponsors soon.

Have a wonderful weekend!

A Compassion Success Story - Rogerio

The following story is from the Spring 2009 Compassion Brazil Magazine.

"Rogerio's story starts out like many other ones. he was just 2-years-old when his father, Jose Milton da Silva, died in a work accident. His life was turned upside down.

"Rogerio was born in Ceara State, in the northeast area of Brazil, a place surrounded by the many faces of poverty, violence, unemployment, drugs, etc. The unpaved streets were covered by dust in the summer and mud in the winter. The area was plagued with fleas. There was no hope of improvement to a better future, just pain and suffering.

"The boy grew up watching his mother, Raimunda de Souza, working hard as a daily cleaner to make a little money in order to support her kids living in a very small house, almost a hut, made of clay, and covered with asbestos' tiles. Inside it, there was no furniture, just a stove made of clay, without electricity. The family slept in hammocks, not having any beds. The house had a dirt floor, and a very small hole in the ground worked as bathroom. In other words, there was no basic sanitation.

"Rogerios's family faced many needs, a complete lack of everything. One year after the death of his father, his mother started to live with a man that became his stepfather. Antonio, the stepfather, used to drink and spend all the money Raimunda had earned to support the family. It was a hard time for the whole family - Rogerio, his mother and his three siblings.

"Up to the age of 9, he had never attended school - his responsibility was to stay home, take care of his siblings, clean the little house, wash dishes, and do the laundry - the few clothes the family had. He was just 'the boy who took care of his little brothers', so he had no dreams.

"He could never imagine he would become an excellent musician, a pastor and Delegate of Human Rights. However, God had a special plan for Rogerio and put special people into his life to accomplish it. In that hopeless neighborhood there was a woman who used to invite children of the community to go to church with her. After some invitations, Rogerio decided to accept and go with her because he had heard that there was food in that church, and he was so tired of feeling hungry. On that Sunday service, she had taken 40 children and Rogerio was among them.

"Rogerio didn't know that he was receiving much more than food, that God was working in his life: 'I will never forget that day, I ate a lot. There were biscuits and juice, for me that was a feast. What I didn't realize at the moment was that something over there caught my attention, much more than food, something I couldn't understand very well yet', he said.

"God began to surround the boy with special people. Pastor Marcos was one of them. One day, when he was going for another day of work at the Project, he saw a curious, thin, and smart boy approaching him. Shyly, that boy asked: 'Sir, may I take care of your car?' The pastor said 'yes', but he didn't realize what was behind that simple question.

"The sound of children playing together, happy, having classes and having tasty meals was all Rogerio wanted. Asking to take care of the pastor's car was a part of his plan to approach the Project, the children and the meals. He could not realize, at that moment, that everything was part of God's plan for his life, God had control of that situation.

"In that afternoon, Pastor Marcos returned and offered some money to Rogerio, but, to his surprise, Rogerio rejected it and left, happily. The pastor was a little bit astonished because, in Brazil, millions of children 'take care of cars' just to get some money for food. But that wasn't Rogerio's case - he was hungry, of course, but he had his own 'strategy' to be part of the Project. Pastor Marcos invited him to enter and have lunch with the other children. Rogerio was so thankful and happy! Finally, he would have a nice and warm meal.

"The next day, when the pastor came to another day of work at the Project, he found the same boy there, anxiously waiting for him. 'Sir, may I wash your car?'

"For some days, he took care or washed the pastor's car, rejecting the money, and having lunch with the kids. Pastor Marcos was just observing that boy - his attitude of rejecting money was odd.

"Day after day, Rogerio repeated his strategy. But one specific day, when he made the usual question, the answer was a big NO. Rogerio was surprised. So, the pastor said, you are forbidden to take care or wash my car. Just enter, go play a game with the other boys.

"Rogerio smiled, his dream had come true! The pastor invited him to participate in the Project. Now, that thin and clever boy was part of the Project! His dreams did not stop there. He had another objective: to be sponsored. But he had a problem: he was 9-years-old, the age limit at that time in Brazil for it. Pastor Marcos never forgets the image of the boy in front of the Project. 'He was persistent', says the pastor. Due to his persistence and because God had a plan for that courageous boy, Pastor Marcos was determined to fight for it and get Compassion's registration for Rogerio. Finally and against all odds, he was sponsored.

"Rogerio got a sponsor. It was another dream that came true, however his sponsor never wrote a line to him and some of the children used to mock him saying that his sponsor didn't exist because he never received a letter. Rogerio felt hurt, but he knew that his sponsor was real.

"The impact of the Word of God touched so deeply into his soul. In the first week attending the Project, when he hard Edileuza, Pastor Marcos's wife explaining about Proverbs 14:12 (There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death), God opened his mind and heart: 'I will never forget those words, something real changed inside me', remember him. Two years later, Rogerio was baptized at the Baptist Church in Edson Queiroz.

"The boy started to attend school and receive all the support at the project to overcome his difficulties, in order to learn how to read and write very fast, because he needed to make up for lost time. It was also at the Project he met the instrument that would change his professional life: the guitar. The first chords were taught by Maria Aparecida Monterio, Project's coordinator.

"'I taught him the first steps, the basics', she says. But for Rogerio, it didn't matter if she was a specialist in guitar or just knew the basics. He just wanted to play. 'I remember his smiling face. Every time he learned a note, he smiled, excited. Because of his enthusiasm, many children can learn guitar at the Project', she said.

"This was a long time ago. Today, Rogerio is a musical producer - he studied vocal and guitar techniques in a conservatory - and he's also a gospel minster, a worship leader. His ministry is called 'Ministerio Chamar de Louvor e Adoracao' (Calling Ministry of Praise and Worship) and he has already recorded an album. Rogerio composes gospel songs and edifies the life of millions of people through his own story. the inspiration for his art comes from God. 'I can't compose anything if my heart isn't connected with God'.

"Rogerio got married to Ana Aldenira when he was 19. The couple has a handsome 10-year-old boy that dreams to be an engineer. The family has a stable life - different from his childhood - because he was set free from poverty in all of its forms. He is a fulfilled Christian adult. In spite of being an adult, his dreamer boy still lives inside: 'my dream is to be an influence to my generation, always'. The gratitude in his eyes and heart is visible: 'People didn't believe that one day I could become a musician. But my first guitar teacher, Maria Aparecida, always dreamed my dreams and I dedicate my victories to her, to pastor Marcos and to my sweet and hard working mother!'

"Pastor Rogerio is a man of God, a real servant leader. He teaches music at the Project and shares with the kids how God changed his life. He declares humbly and happily that his life was transformed by God: 'I praise the Lord because one day he reached me and gave me much more than I even could think or imagine. I always praise him because He used Compassion's Ministry to help me in my holistic life, and showed me Jesus, the might God the only One powerful to release everyone from poverty and makes us free for his glory.'"

There are currently four nine-year-old boys in Brazil that are waiting for sponsors. You can change their story today. Who knows - maybe he grow up to be like Rogerio! You can be that person in a child's life today!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birthdays

For children living in extreme poverty, birthdays are typically not celebrated or even recognized. Compassion knows that every child is special and unique and every child is cherished. Sponsors are encouraged to send an extra monetary gift to their child for his/her birthday so an appropriate gift can be purchased for the child (it will likely be the only gift they receive). Sponsors may also send birthday cards.

In the past, I've always sent a little extra for birthday gifts and written a letter to my child that they could read on their birthday. This year I decided to go a little more above and beyond and make a birthday card for Isadora. I'm going to do the same for my other girls when their birthdays get closer because it was so much fun!

It doesn't have to be anything extreme but I'm a crafty person so I decided to go all out and make a pop-up birthday card. It's actually super easy I used instructions from this website and came up with this:
 This is the inside after I finished all of the pop-ups but before I finished decorating. She is turning 13, hence the 13. Please notice the thirteen balloons and thirteen strings I painstakingly cut out, glued together, and braided. (It's all construction paper). :)


 The front of the card - "Happy Birthday Isadora" in Portuguese. Please note the thirteen hearts and thirteen stars because she's turning thirteen :) Then she'll open it and see this...

The finished inside. "Te Amo" inside the heart means "I love you" and I wrote our names around the perimeter of the heart. I had Lorenna (who was our interpreter on the visit day in Brazil - we still talk) helped me with the translation. It reads "To my beautiful sister, I hope you have a wonderful day!"

The back. This is something I've done for my friends on their 21st birthday cards this year - writing 21 things I love about them. I decided to do the same for her and write 13 things - because she's turning 13 :)

I'm so excited for her to get it!!! :)

If this has inspired you to make your own card for your child - remember to put your sponsor number and the child's number somewhere on the card!!

Also, please note that if you don't know anything in the language your child speaks and want to make them a card - that's totally fine. Make it all in English and someone will translate and make sure the child knows what you are saying. 

First Letter from Melany!

I would like to share the first letter I got from sweet little Melany in Columbia. She is only five so one of her teachers actually did the writing for her but she signed her name (so.cute) and drew me a picture.

I learned that her favorite hobby is to play. Her favorite foods are rice, meat, and plantains. Her favorite subject is math (same as Isadora!) and she likes cats and the color yellow.

She wanted to share Psalm 23: 1 with me: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." Very fitting for children in poverty!

This is some of the message she sent:
"Melany says that her family took her to the park and she ate ice cream. Melany goes to church every Sunday to pray and sing. Melany tells you that she loves attending the project because she learned how to color and draw. Melany sends you kisses and hugs."

So cute!! I'm in love already :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Updates!

Wow I apologize for the blog silence - yet again. I have a lot of updates to give!

First of all - (I don't want to make excuses) but I would like to share a little more about myself and hopefully you can extend some grace as to why I don't update my blog as often as I would like to.
1. I am a full-time college student. I'm taking like 23 credit hours or something ridiculous and most of my life is taken over by lots and lots and lots of reading.
2. I have two work study jobs and work about 12 hours per week. I work for one of my professors and I am a writing tutor.
3. I am a musician. I play trombone and I'm involved in various ensembles on campus so when I'm not in class or at work, I'm probably in a rehearsal.
4. When I'm not doing one of those three things I do things for fun like write or knit or watch a movie or laugh with my roommates so blogging sometimes gets put on the back burner.

So major updates and things that are coming on the blog this week:
1. I got my first letter from Melany!!
2. Isadora's birthday is coming up and I made her an awesome pop-up card. (I'll show you how).
3. Sent my monthly letters out at the end of last week so I'll post that prompt.
4. Next month I have two Compassion events that I'm super excited about.
5. I just got an email about a really cool event next month that I want to learn more about and then I'll share!

Happy Monday :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Feature!! - Sakina, Steffan, Eva, Jessica, Pabitra, Manju, Ana, & Jenny

In honor of human trafficking awareness day I am featuring children that are at greater risk of being forced into the sex trade. Learn more here and here. The following children were chosen for four reasons:
1. They live in areas Compassion has identified as prone to exploitation and abuse
2. They are girls
3. They are between the ages of 7 and 13 (high risk ages)
4. They have been waiting for sponsors for a long time
Please help save one of these girls today.

Meet Sakina! I love her beautiful dress!
Sakina is eight-years-old and lives in Wayalguin, Burkina Faso, an area that is also prone to HIV/AIDS. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 353 days. Sakina lives with both parents (both are sometimes employed) and one sibling. Most adults in this area earn about $40 per month. Sakina helps her family by caring for children, running errands, and cleaning. She enjoys playing with dolls, playing group games, and jumping rope. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Burkina Faso.

Meet Steffan! Looking beautiful in blue!
Steffan is nine-years-old and lives near Mombasa, Kenya, an area that is also prone to HIV/AIDS. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 256 days. Steffan lives with both parents and two siblings. Adults in this area typically earn around $25 per month. Steffan helps her family by helping in the home and she enjoys singing and jumping rope. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Kenya.

Meet Eva! She looks so scared!
Eva is seven-years-old and lives in Kahama, Tanzania, an area that is also prone to HIV/AIDS. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 194 days. EVa lives with both parents (both are sometimes employed) and five siblings. Most adults in this area earn about $60 per month. Eva helps her family by carrying water and cleaning. She enjoys playing house, jumping rope, and hide-and-seek. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Tanzania!

Meet Jessica! Turn that frown upside down!
Jessica is seven-years-old and lives in Kamuge, Uganda, an area that is also prone to HIV/AIDS. Jessica lives with her mother and six siblings. Most adults in this area earn $6 per month. Jessica helps her family by carrying water, gathering firewood, and teaching others. For fun, she enjoys rolling a hoop, ping pong, and singing. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Uganda!

Meet Pabitra! I love her dress and little smile!!
Pabitra is eight-years-old and lives in Daine Atharockchara, Bangladesh. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 345 days. Pabitra lives with both parents and one sibling. Most adults in this area earn about $29 per month. Pabitra helps her family by carrying water and sewing. She enjoys art. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Bangladesh.

Meet Manju! I love her festive outfit!
Manju is seven-years-old and lives in Garthama, India. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 316 days. Manju lives with both parents and three siblings. Most adults in this area earn about $30 per month. Manju helps her family by buying and selling in the market. She enjoys playing house and playing group games. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in India.

Meet Ana! What a beautiful little girl!
Ana is eight-years-old and lives near Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 345 days. Ana lives with both parents and three siblings. Most adults in this area earn about $114 per month. Ana helps her family by cleaning. For fun, she enjoys playing with dolls. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Bolivia.

Meet Jenny! I love her pigtails and dress!
Jenny is seven-years-old and lives in Barrio Nuevo, Columbia. She lives with her stepfather, mother, and two siblings. Most adults in this area earn about $113 per month. Jenny helps her family by washing clothes and cleaning. She enjoys singing, telling stories, and playing hide-and-seek. Save this girl and change her story today! Or another at-risk girl in Columbia.

Bottom line is - any child living in extreme poverty is at-risk of abuse and exploitation and Compassion is saving them every single day. If none of these kids spoke to your heart, I invite you to find one that does. And if always, if you are unable to sponsor a child, please pray for these children, their safety, and that they find loving sponsors soon.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today I want to take a moment to talk about a difficult topic - something that makes me feel angry, yet driven. I want to take a moment to talk about what I feel is the worst, most heinous crime in our world today.

Did you know that slavery still exists in our world? Did you know that the amount of people that are currently enslaved in the world right now is greater than any other time in history?

Did you know that children as young as three are literally being sold this very second into a life of forced prostitution? Did you know there are hundred of thousands of children currently living in brothels and being sold to dozen of men for sex every night?

It's true.

It's not easy to hear.
It's not easy to accept.
But it's true. 

I could talk about this for a long time because it makes me so upset. I could tell stories of girls that have been rescued from a life of hell. I could provide countless horrifying statistics. But I'm sure if you care enough - you'll choose to educate yourself.

Today is human trafficking awareness day and Compassion International has some of it's own information to provide. Because you see, Compassion has an answer for how to solve this - a big answer. And it's working.

What does Compassion do?
1. It prevents it from happening
2. It intervenes when it does

First of all: Prevention
One of the major reasons why people are forced into human trafficking or become prostitutes is because of poverty.

Too many people that are taken over by the no hope monster feel that they have no other options and their life is worth nothing else. They feel that the only way they can survive and put food on the table is if they sell their body. Or if they can't sell their own - they sell their child's.

Too many people that are poor and hopeless are taken advantage of by people promising them fame and fortune if they come with them to another country to become a model or actress - only to find themselves stuck in a brothel with no way out.

Compassion helps prevent this. By intervening in these children's lives and saving them from poverty they now have hope and their family has hope. They are given the resources to succeed and live happy lives. They don't have to sell their bodies or be sold. They are valued as beautiful children of God.

Second of all: Intervention
If Compassion learns that one of their children has been exploited, they do something about it. They will provide the child with the appropriate medical and psychological treatment and assist the child and his/her family in any way they need. Compassion provides safe houses and legal assistance to the child as well.

Additionally, if you sponsor a child that lives in an area prone to exploitation and abuse, on top of the $38 per month to save a child, you have the option of giving an additional $7 for a total of $45 per month. This additional money goes to the country of your child and their efforts to fight child exploitation and abuse in their country.

So what can I do?
1. Sponsor a child. Some children have little blue symbols on their picture indicating they live in areas prone to exploitation and abuse. If you are as disgusted by this crime as I am, these are great kids to choose from. But the fact is, all of the kids in Compassion's program live in poverty and are therefore at risk. Any child you sponsor you are saving from a life of hell.

2. Donate to the highly vulnerable children's fund. Learn more and donate here.

Human trafficking and the trafficking of children simply should not happen. Together we can end this. It starts with you and me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

One of my favorite videos

I first saw this video at the 10th Ave. North concert I volunteered at in November. I was very moved then because there are few things in the world that make me angrier than harming children (especially sex trafficking). I've always asked God to show me how he wants me to help solve this problem because it simply shouldn't exist - and He did.

When I saw this little face and read about Melany, I wanted her to find a sponsor so bad. By the end of the night when she didn't have a sponsor, God showed me that I could be her sponsor and I could save her from abuse.

Me. A college student that makes $300 a month if I'm lucky could restructure how I spend my money each month and spend less on myself and more on them. (Granted, I am very fortunate that my parents are able to afford many of my expenses). But nearly a third of what I make each month goes to them.


Please consider saving a child today from a life of forced labor or prostitution. It simply should not happen and we have the power to be that change. As you're looking at children, this symbol:
indicates a child that lives in an area prone to exploitation and abuse. Generally they can be found in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, India, Bolivia, and Columbia.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How are the countries Compassion works in chosen?

When you look at a country like Ghana, it is clear that there is huge need for assistance. However, you can say the same for many countries of the world (like most of Africa, large portions of Asia...) and Compassion doesn't work in these countries. Why?

There are four criteria that must be met before Compassion can begin work in a country.

1. God's leading. Every decision Compassion makes is heavily prayed upon.

2. Strong local church partners. The country must have Christian leaders and churches that can support and carry out Compassion's model of child development.

3. Government support. The country's government must allow Compassion to work there.

4. Risk Management: The country must have a provision for international banking and no legal barriers for working there.

So it's not an easy thing to do - getting countries signed up to allow Compassion to work there. There are is undoubtedly a long list of places Compassion would love to go, but can't get. However, with God's guidance, someday they will and someday extreme poverty will be eradicated. (It already is - one child at a time).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The First Sponsored Child in Ghana

Yesterday we talked about the work Compassion does in Ghana. Also from the Fall 2006 issue of the Compassion magazine was a little article about the first child sponsored in Ghana, written by Daisy Byarugaba.

"Nine-year-old Emmanuel Kwasi Boateng Addei lives in a painfully cramped one-bedroom apartment with his parents, five siblings and his mother's niece. When Emmanuel was registered with Compassion and started attending the church-based project, his mother, Janet, says 'The church's intervention was a timely answer to prayer. Before, 'Ema' used to roam about the neighborhood on the weekend and it was hard to keep track of him, but now he learns many new things and he explains them to me every time he comes back from the church. I can tell his mind is opening and he is more keen to learn than play.'

"What does Emmanuel think of his sponsorship? 'I like going to church and to the project because they teach us memory verses,' he says, before proudly reciting John 3:16. 'I also like school and my teachers because they teach me new things. I really like math, drawing, and French,' he adds.

"The changes in Emmanuel's life are just the beginning. As is often the case, when a child's life begins to change, his family changes too. In fact, since Emmanuel's sponsorship, his father has given his life to the Lord."

I could not find a picture of Emmanuel online, but in the picture in my magazine, he is an adorable young man with a small smile on his face wearing a dinosaur shirt.

You can have the same life-changing impact on a child. Sponsor a child in Ghana today!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Country Feature: Ghana

Today is a big day. It's my half-birthday and the first day of spring semester. I'm going to make a strong effort to blog a lot this semester! Today I want to talk about Ghana.

First of all, where is it? Ghana is a small country located in the western part of Africa.
In the Compassion program, Ghana is an AIDS-infected region. According to Compassion, 45% of the population lives in extreme poverty.

In the Fall, 2006 issue of Compassion Magazine, Leanna Summers wrote about Ghana in her article "Preserving Ghana's Gold: It's Children"

"Formerly known as the Gold Coast, the West African country of Ghana was built by slaves  who mined the country's supply of gold and other resources. But despite Ghana's rich reserves, more than 70 million Ghanians, 45% of the population, live in extreme poverty - poverty so debilitating that some desperate parents have even sold their children to those who end up exploiting them. 

"Forced labor, prostitution and armed conflict are among the most horrific ways children - many as young as 5 - are exploited. According to a recent report from UNICEF, West African countries have the highest rate of child labor in the world: an alarming 41%.

"Sadly, more than 11 million children worldwide die from an even deadlier enemy: preventable illness. Diarrhea - easily treated with medicine and fluids - can be fatal for these children. Without intervention, ill children in Ghana will continue to die needlessly.

"The tremendous needs of children in Ghana moved Compassion to open child sponsorship programs in 2005 and more than 2,400 at-risk children are now receiving customized care for their needs. 

"Each child in Compassion's program is ensured a safe place to learn, and through sponsor's donations Compassion has provided school fees for more than 130 Ghanian children whose parents could not afford to send them to school. Children in Ghana also receive health care, including checkups, hygiene training, nutritional supplements, medicines, surgeries, and other critical care at local hospitals.

"Compassion also works to rekindle children's dimmed spirits - to tell them God sent His Son for them. Compassion president Wess Stafford explains: 'Poverty is a mindset, a spirit that tells its victims they do not matter. We then move from this state to despair, apathy and finally fatalism. WE can change this by telling the little ones that to God they matter. They start to gain courage and confidence and then start to change things. When a child moves from 'I don't matter' to 'I can fix this', we have won the battle.'"

The following two young men in Ghana have birthdays today and have been waiting for sponsors for a long time. Make this their best birthday yet and give them the gift of hope!

Meet Nathaniel!
Nathaniel is nine-years-old today and lives in Klo-Agogo, Ghana. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 372 days! Nathaniel lives with his grandparents (both are sometimes employed) and one sibling. Most adults in this area are farmers or market traders and earn about $31 per month. Nathaniel helps his family by helping in the kitchen and running errands. He enjoys playing soccer and group games. End his wait and change his story today!

Meet Emmanuel!
Emmanuel is thirteen-years-old today and lives in Madina, Ghana. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 291 days! Emmanuel lives with both parents (both are sometimes employed) and four siblings. Most adults in this area work as traders and earn about $30 per month. Emmanuel helps his family by washing clothes, helping in the kitchen, and running errands. He enjoys playing soccer, singing, and art. End his wait and change his story today!

There are many other children in Ghana that are waiting for sponsors and would love to know you! Change a story today!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Monthly Letter Prompt - January

Hopefully the last post helped inspire you to write a letter. If you have no idea what to write about, never fear! This is what I wrote to my girls about this last month. (I usually write at the end of the month but I think I'm going to start posting my prompt at the beginning of the month).

This one is pretty easy. We just celebrated Christmas and New Year's and the way you and your family celebrate is most likely very different than how your child celebrated.

Writing Prompts:
1. Describe how your family prepares and decorates for Christmas
2. Describe your family's traditions on Christmas
3. Talk about your favorite gift (I wouldn't describe everything you received because it may make the child feel awkward seeing as they probably only get one or two gifts).
4. Talk about the family you got to see
5. Talk about any traveling you did
6. Talk about how you celebrated New Year's Eve (try to keep it Christian G-rated, if you went to a crazy party and drank until you passed out, maybe leave that out :))
7. Talk about your goals for the New Year
8. Talk about the weather where you live (sounds crazy but if you live in an area where it snows, your child has probably never experienced that before!)

Question ideas:
1. Ask how he/she celebrated Christmas
2. Ask how he/she celebrated the New Year
3. Ask if he/she has any goals for the New Year
4. Ask about his/her dreams
5. Ask if he/she has any prayer requests

Gift ideas:
1. I included some pictures of my yard to show the snow on the ground because it doesn't snow in my girl's countries.
2. Pictures from your Christmas or New Years (again, try not to show material possessions or non-Christian activities)
3. Anything relating to winter/Christmas/New Years (that can fit in an envelope)

This month I chose to write my letters online. Compassion has a plethora of really cool stationary you can choose from, you have lots of space to type your letter, and you can easily upload up to three pictures.

This is great for when you want to send a letter to your child but don't have any stationary on hand. In addition to that, if you want to write a letter but don't have any Compassion stationary on hand and you don't want to send an online letter, you can always print out stationary from the Compassion website. You can also use your own stationary. If you do this though, it's important that you make sure to write your sponsor number and your child's number on the letter. Anything you put in that envelope to your child should have your number and your child's number on it in case something gets misplaced.

Happy writing!

Why you should write letters

Taken from the Fall 2006 Compassion Magazine, entitled "Your Letters - Simple Treasures" written by Briton Kamugisha and Tania Mendes.

"Your letters are beacons of light in your child's dark circumstances of poverty. To show the immense importance of each letter you send, two sponsosred children share their experiences.

"Coming of Age in Brazil...

"Ariane lives in Vista Alegre, Brazil, where only 25% of children complete elementary school. Ariane could have easily been among these children. But she is in secondary school and has hope for her future, a hope she attributes to her sponsors' encouraging letters.

"She says, 'The letters from my sponsors mean that they care for me and remember me. In 2001 my parents were very sick...so I wrote to [my sponsors] telling them about this problem and they answered me telling me that God was in control and that I should remember that God can do everything. My sponsors comforted me with their words and prayers.'

"Ariane treasures each letter from her sponsors and carefully saves each one. 'I like to reread [my letters]. One time per year we have an exhibition here in the project and I have exhibited my letters, cards, and photos with a lot of happiness to share about my sponsor,' she says.

"Through  their letters Ariane's sponsors have helped her thrive in her harsh environment. Smiling, she says, 'I think it is very good to receive a letter from a sponsor because we [sponsored children] feel important an valued like a person. Can you imagine receiving a letter from the other side of the planet, from a person you don't know personally who really cares for you? Can you? It's very, very important!

"'I would like to say that it is very important to feel their love. It is so good to be loved. We can exchange prayer requests and this keeps us together. When a child receives a compliment from his sponsor it is forever in his mind and heart. That is why a simple letter is so important to us sponsored children.'

"...But Waiting in Rwanda

"Maritete, a Rwandan orphan, is waiting for her first letter but sees her sponsors as her lifeline to a better future. Her tremendous faith and prayers keep her going from day to day, despite her difficult circumstances. She is eager to build a relationship with her sponsors, so she prays for a letter.

"She says, 'I write to them all the time and I am not sure whether my letters reach them. And if they reach them I feel surprised that they don't reply, but I wait. I know God is on my side and I will never be defeated. I know the God I serve will one day change their hearts and light will shine upon me as I receive the first letter from them.'

"Even though Maritete is waiting, this little girl believes in God's perfect timing. She says, 'I am praying for [my sponsors] because nothing happens without the will of God and nothing happens out of God's time. Maybe the time for them to write to me is not yet. I will be patient and wait; they will reply to me.'

Maritete has not received a letter from her sponsors, but their loving support is helping shape her spirit. Compassion President Wess Stafford explains, 'The spirit of a little child is a lot like wet cement. When a child is young, it takes little effort to make an impression that can last a lifetime.' Your letters, every short note, Bible verse or card, leave a wonderful, lasting impression on a child's heart."

I hope you will take the time today to write to your sponsored child or correspondent child. You don't have to wait for a response from your child to write a new letter, I write my girls every month.

If you are a sponsor and for whatever reason do not want to write to your child or for whatever reason cannot, please call Compassion and let them find a correspondent partner for your child so he/she can reap the benefits of creating this lasting relationship.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Feature!! - Franchesca, Jorgue, Reyner, Sivenly, Nayely, Yasmin, & Eliezer

Today all of the featured children will be out of Central America.

The Dominican Republic:
Meet Franchesca!! Look at the adorable smile!
Franchesca is four-years-old and lives in Mandinga, Dominican Republic. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 338 days! She lives with both parents (both are sometimes employed). Most adults in this area work as laborers or in domestic services and earn about $76 per month. Franchesca helps her family by running errands and she enjoys art, playing with dolls, and playing group games. Change her story today!


El Salvador:
Meet Jorgue!! I love his little half-smile!
Jorgue is eight-years-old and lives near Usulutan, El Salvador. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 369 days! Jorgue lives with his father (who is sometimes employed), his stepmother, and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work as laborers and earn about $120 per month. Jorgue helps his family by making beds and running errands. He enjoys playing soccer, running, and bicycling. Change his story today!


Guatemala:
Meet Reyner!! I love the expression on his face!
Reyner is six-years-old and lives in Salama, Guatemala. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 369 days! Reyner lives with his mother who is employed as a laborer. Most adults in this area work as laborers and earn about $87 per month. Reyner helps his family by caring for animals, running errands, and helping in the kitchen. For fun, he enjoys playing soccer, swimming, and playing with cars. Change his story today!


Haiti:
Meet Sivenly!! Such a cute little boy!!
Sivenly is four-years-old and lives in Marmont, Haiti. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 338 days! Sivenly lives with both parents (both are sometimes employed) and two siblings. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work on plantations and earn about $30 per month! Sivenly helps his family by gathering firewood and caring for animals. For fun, he enjoys listening to music, playing group games, and playing hide-and-go-seek. Change his story today!


Honduras:
Meet Nayely!! Turn her forceful frown upside down!!
Nayely is five-years-old and lives in Sector Lomas del Carmen, Honduras. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 338 days! Nayely lives with her father (who is sometimes employed), mother, and three siblings. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work as laborers and earn about $135 per month! Nayely helps her family by running errands and cleaning. She enjoys art and running. Change her story today!


Mexico:
Meet Yasmin!! I love her beautiful dress!
Yasmin is seven-years-old and lives near Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. She has been waiting for a sponsor for 388 days! Yasmin lives with her father (who is sometimes employed), her mother, and four siblings. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work on plantations and earn about $116 per month. Yasmin helps her family selling in the market and caring for children. For fun, she enjoys singing and playing with dolls. Change her story today!


Nicaragua:
Meet Eliezer!! So cute and serious!!
Eliezer is seven-years-old and lives in El Calvarito, Nicaragua. He has been waiting for a sponsor for 339 days! Eliezer lives with his father (who is employed), his mother, and two siblings. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work as street vendors and earn about $33 per month! Eliezer helps his family by running errands. He enjoys playing soccer, ball games, and with cars. Change his story today!!


As always, if none of these children speak to your heart, I invite you to find one that does. And if you are unable to sponsor a child, please pray over these children and that they will find loving sponsors soon.

Love & Peace







The Ripple Effect

This is a topic I've been meaning to talk about for some time now. Coincidentally, it was one of the reasons I wanted to become an advocate for Compassion in the first place.

The ripple effect. Meaning that one person's actions causes a ripple, effecting countless other people in countless different ways. This can be a positive ripple, or a negative one (which is yet another reason why we should always strive to do good to others and be kind to one another. You never know how your words or actions will affect someone else).

One reason why I wanted to become an advocate for Compassion was so I could increase my ripple. I am twenty years old and in college. There is only so much money I can give even though I wish I could give it all. My time is valuable, but I knew that I could find more time to give. Even though I can't change as many lives as I may want by giving money, I can change lives by giving time. And the ripple is still there.

Even sponsoring one child causes an incredible ripple. You are not only changing that child's live, but the life of their friends, family, neighbors, anyone that child comes in contact with. Think of all of the people you interact with on a daily basis. Your child is probably interacting with just as many people and all of those people are different because they know your child. That's really cool to me.

I want to share an article from summer 2008 Compassion magazine entitled: Champions of Faith, written by Brandy Campbell.

"Puffs of steam rise from the arms of a dozen young men practicing karate in a cramped classroom. The humid Brazilian air has cooled, but drops of sweat bead on their earnest faces before dropping to the cracked mats beneath their bare feet.

"Frrancisco de Melo weaves among his students in the stifling room. He lifts a boy's drooping elbow. Encourages a teen to kick higher.

"As Francisco makes his rounds, he notices one of his students, Jorge Barroso. Not long ago Francisco had the privilege of knotting a black belt around Jorge's waist. Such an accomplishment is a far cry from the gangs, drugs, and crime that victimize many boys in Fortaleza. For 10 years, Francisco has worked hard to teach everything he knows to Jorge and the 75 other boys who have attended the karate class at the Compassion-assisted Projeto Social de Igreja de Cristo child development center.

"Francisco volunteers his time, but not to gain more awards and accolades. He does it because he sees a little of himself in boys like Jorge. And he knows the boys see hope in him.

"Francisco's hope starkly contrasts his childhood. Francisco and his siblings grew up in a home where there was never enough - never enough work for his father, never enough food for his family.

"When Francisco was 9, he began working alongside his father. The boy spent his days hauling heavy loads of bricks until his arms burned and his back ached. Every few months, he and his brothers would save up enough pennies to go to a karate movie in town. Francisco would entertain his father's friends by mimicking the moves he saw on the faded movie screen. One of those friends generously paid for Francisco to take karate lessons.

"At 14, Francisco left his small hometown and moved to Fortaleza, one of Brazil's largest cities. During the day  he worked odd jobs. At night he took karate lessons. On the weekends he traveled to nearby cities, entering, then winning competitions. But something was missing - something Francisco found in Parquelandia Baptist Church, a small, dusty church where he began studying the Bible with friends. At 16, Francisco received Christ.

"Francisco became active in his church, even as he traveled across the country competing in karate tournaments and accumulating titles: six-time Brazilian Champion; International Champion Brazil Cup; third place in the Karate World Competition.

"Although he became a local legend, Francisco didn't forget where he came from. So when Francisco's church became a Compassion church partner, he met with the center staff, asking if he could teach karate lessons to the boys enrolled in the program. Soon his one class grew to four, as he traveled to several Compassion child development centers throughout the city. "I have an old dream - to teach children about Jesus and see them released from poverty. That is the reason I wanted to teach at Compassion's project," says Francisco.

"Ten-year-old Jorge was one of Francisco's first students. Francisco knew the boys' father had abandoned the family. Francisco poured hours into Jorge's life. He taught Jorge about the love of the Father and prayed for him constantly. And as a teenager Jorge accepted Christ - just as his mentor had done more than 20 years earlier.

"In the five years Jorge has been taking karate lessons from Francisco, he has risen to the highest level, black belt. At just 15, he has won 22 competitions and is ranked third in Brazil.

""Francisco has taught me many things," says Jorge. "He gives me encouragement and support. He is very good to me. His classes are like a second home for me."

"Little does Jorge know, Francisco is equally impressed with him - and he takes almost no credit for the boy's successes. "Jorge is a very good person and is very determined," says Francisco. "Jesus has changed and is changing his life. He is like a priceless stone, being polished by the Lord. Everything he has done is for the glory of God.""

There's a ripple effect. Francisco was born into poverty and was able to come out of poverty and change countless other young men's lives because of a few single actions. His parents allowed him and his brother to see karate movies instead of saving those little bits of change for their family. The family friend paid for him to start taking karate lessons - and the rest was history.

What you are doing - or can do - for a child (or really any person) is extraordinary and should never be taken lightly. I hope we can all choose to make a constant effort to always be a positive role-model and a positive person in another's life.

There are currently no children available at the center where Francisco worked. However, there are some cute little Brazilian boys named Francisco (maybe one of them is the next karate star of Brazil!). Or help a child that has been waiting for a long time in Brazil.