Birthday parties, going to the beach, owning books, or eating strawberries and pizza (maybe not together!) are things that most of us have enjoyed. But for many children living in the grips of poverty, these fun yet common experiences become distant dreams.
But one of Compassion‚Äôs local church partners in Brazil was determined to make these dreams a reality. They asked children in the Child Sponsorship Programme what their longed-for wishes were. And they set about making them come true!
These are the children‚Äôs beautiful reactions.
1. Leticia‚Äôs first birthday cake
Letitia could hardly hold back her tears when Compassion project staff brought out the chocolate cake. It was for her. Leticia.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve only eaten chocolate cake once in my life. It's been a long time, yet I still remember. Since then, I‚Äôve had this wish. I wanted to eat that tasty thing again. My family has no money to buy this kind of food for me,‚ÄĚ says the 14-year-old.
Her family lives on ¬£90 a month, which gives them enough for the basics. They‚Äôve never been able to afford the ingredients to make a cake to celebrate her birthday before.
Her hands shaking, Leticia accepted the cake.
‚ÄúIt's delicious! Better than the first time. I am very, very excited. I'm grateful!"
2. Marcelo‚Äôs sushi
In Brazil, sushi is an expensive dish. 15-year-old Marcelo has seen it eaten before on television, but he‚Äôs always wondered what it would taste like.
He was intrigued when the Compassion staff brought out the plate of sushi. Would he like it? Marcos took the first bite and made a face‚ÄĒand it wasn‚Äôt one of delight!
‚ÄúI didn't like it very much. But it was good to know what the taste is like! So even though I didn't like it, I'm pleased,‚ÄĚ says Marcelo.
3. Ana Vit√≥ria‚Äôs very own book
Ana Vit√≥ria has a love of reading.
But the 14-year-old has never had the pleasure of owning her own book; she has only ever read free stories on the internet. Her grandmother is her full-time carer and can‚Äôt afford a book for her grandchild.
‚ÄúMy dream has always been to have real books, a bookcase full of them! I have never read a physical book,‚ÄĚ says Ana Vit√≥ria.
Now, not only does she own one book‚ÄĒshe is the proud owner of two!
‚ÄúI'm so grateful; this is my first book! I will read my books a lot. I will read very quickly.‚ÄĚ
4. Jessica and Carlivan‚Äôs pizza party
Jessica and Carlivan share the same desire: to enjoy a pizza! It might be a common dish for those in the west, but it‚Äôs not a meal their families can afford.
‚ÄúI wanted to try pepperoni and cheese pizza!‚ÄĚ says Jessica. ‚ÄúPeople should be more grateful for what they have because a lot of people don't have them.‚ÄĚ
The two were ecstatic when they opened the box.
‚ÄúIt's been a long time since I wanted to eat a pizza. It was a surprise to me. I was thrilled because I had never eaten pizza in my life. I was so glad!‚ÄĚ says Carlivan.
5. Carla‚Äôs surprise birthday party
Birthdays should be a joyful time to celebrate, but for Carla they are always a reminder of her family‚Äôs financial situation. She wished she could celebrate like other children.
‚ÄúUsually on my birthday, my family wakes up and congratulates me. But only this. When I see other kids singing and having birthday parties, I was a little sad because nobody ever sang happy birthday, just for me, with a cake and candles.‚ÄĚ
Maria, her mother, was heartbroken she couldn‚Äôt do something special for her daughter‚Äôs fifteenth birthday‚ÄĒa special milestone called ‚ÄėFesta de Debutante‚Äô in Brazil. She went to the Compassion project for help.
‚ÄúIt hurt my heart that I couldn't offer her anything,‚ÄĚ says Maria.
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, project volunteers called Carla to the project. Suddenly, they put a blindfold on and led her into the courtyard.
When they removed the blindfold, a surprise awaited!
‚ÄúWhen I saw my cake, I was astonished! My cake was so beautiful! It was white and pink. My friends were there with me too. My first birthday cake completely mine. It was tasty. I am so happy," says Carla.
6. Kellyn, Antonia and Djalma‚Äôs burgers
‚ÄúI know that hamburgers are not very expensive, but we have no money to buy them. That's why I‚Äôve always wanted to eat a hamburger,‚ÄĚ says Antonia.
Teenagers Kellyn, Antonia and Djalma has always wished they could try a hamburger. The recipe might be simple, but the cost of preparing the dish has never been achievable for their families.
When the Compassion project organised the special treat, the teens couldn‚Äôt wait for the first bite.
‚ÄúIt's as good as I thought!‚ÄĚ says Kellyn.
7. Kissia and Ryany‚Äôs seaside adventure
Kissia and Ryany have dreamt of this day for their entire lives. The girls live two hours from the sea, but their families could never afford a beach trip. They never thought they would have the chance to enjoy the seaside until Compassion staff announced the day trip to the ocean.
¬†‚ÄúI hardly slept, thinking about what it would be like to see the sea for the first time! It's much bigger and beautiful than I imagined!‚ÄĚ says Kissia.
8. Grazielle tastes strawberries
In Grazielle‚Äôs hometown, a tray of 12 small strawberries costs about ¬£1.90. This is the same amount it costs her family to purchase two kilograms of rice and one kilogram of beans.
Needless to say, tasting strawberries has always been out of reach for the 14-year-old.
Grazielle could hardly believe her eyes when she was given a bowl of strawberries to enjoy from the project staff.
‚ÄúStrawberries are a bit sour, but I liked them a lot,‚ÄĚ she says
9. Francisco‚Äôs blue shoes
Francisco‚Äôs only shoes are a pair of flip flops.
His father works in landfill collecting plastic and metal material and is paid per bag filled. It‚Äôs a time-consuming effort for minimal pay. There is little money left to buy his son shoes.
"My dream is to have beautiful shoes. Blue shoes!" says Francisco.
Hearing this dream, Compassion staff made a firm decision‚ÄĒFrancisco would have blue shoes!
When the eight-year-old was handed the box, he was in awe. He didn‚Äôt waste a second‚ÄĒthe shoes were going on his feet straight away.
"I love my new shoes. They are blue!"
There's nothing better than knowing you're making a real difference in the life of a child living in poverty. Give a child the opportunity to experience new opportunities by sponsoring a child today.
A version of this blog was originally published by our friends at Compassion Australia.¬†