“I wasn’t afraid of anything”
Marcelino and Morenilce met at a boarding school for children who are blind in northeast Brazil. Marcelino had been studying there since he was a boy, having lost his sight at the age of two due to an illness.
Morenilce was seven years old when she lost her sight after an accident. She still has memories of waking to a blue sky. It wasn’t until she turned fifteen that she began at the same school—here they were welcomed into a community of young people facing similar experiences and supported to thrive. They became friends, and went on to fall in love.
Years later, a relative became pregnant but felt unable to cope with another child and intended to give the baby up for adoption. When Marcelino and Morenilce heard what she was planning, they came alongside her and asked if they could adopt the baby boy and raise him as their own.
“We brought Marcelo home from the hospital—he was so chubby! Despite being blind, I wasn’t afraid of anything; it was natural for me to be a mum. I used to bathe him myself and change his nappies. At that time, 15 years ago, we still used cloth nappies fastened with a pin… I never once pierced him!” says Morenilce.
A life coloured by love and faith
Morenilce stays closely within her small neighbourhood, where their home, church and grocery shop are—but that’s the way she likes it. “I don’t like to go out often,” she says. “I prefer to stay home listening to my favourite football team, Palmeiras, playing—I love football!” Her passion can be noticed throughout the house, which is painted in her team’s colour green. Green is also the colour she wears nearly every day.
“My mum absolutely loves football,” says Marcelo, who is now fifteen. “Sometimes I’ll be sleeping in my bedroom and wake to the sound of her screaming… then I realise she’s just supporting her team!”
Dad, Marcelino, is a keen musician and plays the drums for the church music group. Even though he trained to be an X-ray operator and managed to get work in early adulthood, he’s found it hard to secure work in recent times. Their income comes from government support and selling din-dins—a traditional homemade ice-cream sold in small plastic bags, which Morenilce makes. “I grate the coconuts and make the din-dins all myself. Then I sell them to my neighbours. I don’t earn much money, but it helps us with something.”
“Compassion’s support blesses many families in our community”
Marcelo started to attend the Compassion project when he was seven years old. His friends took him to church, and one day a volunteer went to Marcelo’s house to talk to his parents about the programme.
“I’ve always liked going to the project where I get to play and have fun with my friends. Everyone is very kind to me, and I learn many things there,” says Marcelo.
When a child is enrolled onto a Compassion programme, they find themselves surrounded by a whole team of supporters championing them to be built up in body, mind and spirit. This team includes the local church, healthcare professionals, project mentors, friends and sponsors—all supporting a child’s primary caregivers so that together we can encourage and empower each child to develop the skills and confidence to fulfil their God-given potential.
Marcelino agrees about the impact the project has for their family and the wider community. “The project is a blessing for many families in our community. I know through their work they can reach many people for God. At the project, my son learns about God’s Word, and the volunteers help him to develop his talents.”
As Marcelo flourishes into a young man, he continues to be a committed, loving son. “Despite my parents being very independent,” he says, “I’m always here to help them whenever they call me. I help my mother when she’s cooking or asks me to buy something from the market.”
Morenilce adds, “I know if we weren’t blind, our lives would be easier in some ways. But I also know that I have nothing to complain about. Instead, I’m grateful to God because He always provides for us. Having His presence in my life is enough for me.”
Be on their team! By sponsoring a child, you support their whole family.