Rian, Angel and Lucas are football mad. Yet if life were a game of football, these three children—and millions like them who live in poverty —would be unfairly side-lined.
Poverty denies them basic rights such as healthcare and education, strips them of opportunities and leaves them open to exploitation. Without these necessities, a child’s best efforts can often fall short. The goalposts feel further and further away.
Thankfully, Rian, Angel and Lucas have another thing in common besides a love for the world’s most popular sport. Each boy is supported by Compassion’s local church partner through Child Sponsorship.
In their own words, Rian, Lucas, and Angel share the challenges of feeling left behind. This is why they’re determined to keep reaching their goals—both on and off the pitch.
“Not having my dad with us anymore is our biggest struggle.” Angel, 11, Mexico
My name is Angel. I’m 11 years old. I live with my mother, older sister, and younger sister. My dad died in February 2021, so my mother is the one who works. She cleans houses three days a week.
Not having my dad with us anymore is our biggest struggle. He had alcohol problems and died from it.
It’s hard that my mother is now doing both roles—taking care of the house and being the main provider. I started working some days of the week to support her with some of the expenses, but it wasn’t enough.
All children deserve to have an education, to receive God’s Word, and to have the same rights as everyone else. Many children here come from families who don’t have much money, so many don’t have access to education. Many of these kids follow the things of the world and miss out on the message of eternal life.
It can feel like nobody cares about you and you are not important at all. Before I started attending Compassion’s programme, I used to stay home alone with my sisters and didn’t know much about God’s love for us. Now, I have a lot of fun at the programme. They have supported us with hygiene products and groceries.
I like my sponsor because I can see he truly cares about my well-being. My sponsor encourages me to do my best and to continue learning about God’s Word. It makes me feel like people do care about my well-being and that I’m important.
If someone can sponsor a child, they should do it because there is a lot of need in my whole country. It would also be great if they could give words of encouragement to children who are sad or going through difficulties.
“Before I was part of Compassion’s programme, sometimes I couldn’t go to school because we didn’t have money to pay for it.” Rian, 9, Uganda
My name is Rian, and I am nine years old. I live with my father, mother, siblings and five cousins in Uganda. My father is a taxi driver, and my mother sells vegetables.
Children in my community like fighting a lot. There are gangs here. If they find you in the night, they can even kill you. There are also desperate children here who look for scrap to sell. My friend was caught and beaten by the scrap boys. They thought he had money because he was wearing a school uniform. They were 13 and 11 years old.
The children in my neighbourhood miss out on learning because their parents don’t have money. It feels bad to be left out. You feel uncomfortable, sad, and annoyed. Like, ‘Why me?’
Before I was part of Compassion’s programme, sometimes I couldn’t go to school because we didn’t have money to pay for it.
Now Agape, my Compassion child development centre, is paying for my fees. I thank God for Agape. Without Agape, I might not be studying. Education is expensive. Some of my friends had to drop out of school. I have a friend who finds plastic bottles and sells them for 14 cents. He has to collect many bottles to earn that money.
Before, I sometimes didn’t have food and would go hungry. Now, I have food. I’ve also learnt to pray and read the Bible, and the staff have taught me how to share and to forgive. They can also take me to hospital when I am sick. It makes me feel good.
I want to be a footballer. When you are a footballer, you can travel the world. If I got money from playing football, I could build a house and buy a car, and I could give my friends and parents some money. My favourite football star is Messi in Barcelona, but now Arsenal has bought him.
“In the centre, the volunteers are kind and patient with us. They are interested in what we have to say and always encourage us in our dreams.” Lucas, 10, Brazil
My name is Lucas. I’m 10, and I live in Recife, Brazil. I live with my mother and my two siblings, Luan, 11, and Lucyerica, 12. My siblings are my best friends in the world.
Our community has a lot of hills. When it rains heavily, the streets and houses at the bottom of the hill flood. On these days, we can’t go to school or to the Compassion centre. The waters rise to our knees. Since the streets don’t have proper sanitation, the rainwater floods the sewer, and it can result in many diseases for us.
My mum doesn’t have a formal job. She works at anything she can: a manicurist, caregiver for the elderly, a housemaid. Everything got worse after the pandemic. Now, people are afraid of having my mother in their homes. She has lost most of her job opportunities. I know that everything is harder for her now.
She says that sometimes she feels sorry because she can’t give us everything we want, but I’m grateful for having her as my mum. During the pandemic, the Compassion centre supported us with food baskets, school activities, and phone calls. They always call to ask my mum how we are doing and if we need something. I think that’s the most important thing for her: knowing we’re not forgotten.
The Compassion centre is one of my favourite places. The centre is the only place in the community where I’m able to learn music, sports, and arts. My mum doesn’t have money to pay for private classes for my siblings and me, so we’d never have the opportunity to learn these things without the centre.
I like going to the centre more than going to school. At school, our classrooms are always too crowded and noisy, and the teachers are impatient. It’s hard to learn things there. In the centre, the volunteers are kind and patient with us. They are interested in what we have to say and always encourage us in our dreams. It’d be great also to have a sponsor to send me letters. I’d love to know someone from far away.
I want to be a football player when I grow up. Messi is my favourite football player. Then, I want to buy a big blue house for my mum, so she won’t need to pay rent anymore.
My mum always says that we’re very blessed to have the centre in our lives. We don’t have to pay anything to them or give anything in exchange—they’re just willing and committed to helping us. I’d be very happy if all the other children and I had a sponsor.
Clear the bench and help a child reach their goals
“That’s the most important thing for her: knowing we’re not forgotten,” says Lucas in Brazil. His words capture one of the challenges facing a child in poverty: feeling invisible. When you’ve done as much as you can, and it’s still not enough, knowing there are people looking out for you means everything.
Compassion’s programme surrounds a child with a caring team to support them and their family, including a local church and a loving sponsor. You can help children just like Lucas reach their goals by becoming a sponsor.
As Angel in Mexico says, “All children deserve to have an education, to receive God’s Word, and to have the same rights as everyone else.”