Maria is a child full of hope. Her voice is confident, and she smiles like everything has always been good.
Growing up in Morrope in northern Peru, Mariaâ€™s happy place is her Compassion project. Here she has found love, friendship and encouragement through the letters from her sponsor.
These words of affirmation helped her overcome a difficult period of her life.
A time of sadness
For as long as she can remember Mariaâ€™s parentsâ€™ marriage has always had conflict. When she was ten, her father decided to leave the family and start a new life. As heâ€™d been the sole breadwinner, Mariaâ€™s mum needed to find work quickly so took a job working in the rice fields. This meant leaving her daughter alone at home, a risky situation for a child but there was no other choice.
â€śIt was difficult for me to leave Maria alone and I prayed on my way to work that the Lord would be with her and make her understand that she would be ok. Thanks to God, there was a lady from church who lives near my house, and she offered to check on Maria from time to time. It was a relief,â€ť says Maribel, Mariaâ€™s mum.
Mariaâ€™s school day starts at noon, so she spent mornings on her own. Everything seemed to be working well; Maria was adjusting to being home alone because the rest of the day she was at church or school. She learned to be responsible for doing her homework and getting ready for school.
Then, one night her father returned.
â€śMy dad came with a police officer, saying that he was taking me to an orphanage because my mum was not able to take care of me and that I was abandoned. He said he was sorry for doing that, but he didnâ€™t want me to grow up alone and he was not able to take care of me either. I felt my heart beating fast and I was scared. My mum called the project director, and he immediately came with a lawyer,â€ť recalls Maria.
With the support of the project, Maria was able to stay with her mum, but the experience left her feeling upset and unloved.
â€śI was sad because I felt rejection from my dad,â€ť explains Maria. â€śI started to cry, thinking that I was not loved by my dad. So I went to my bedroom and I saw the letters from my sponsor. I grabbed one of them and they said they were proud of me. I continued reading all of them, and their words were so timely they lifted me up.
â€śI am thankful to my sponsors because they make my heart really happy. Through their letters, they have taught me many things. For example, I didnâ€™t use to pray as I pray now. My sponsors always pray for me, and I have learnt to pray for my dad as well,â€ť explains Maria.
An answer to prayer
In December last year, Mariaâ€™s father returned home. He asked them to forgive his actions and requested the opportunity to make things right. Maria and her mum accepted his apology and they are on the way to becoming a solid family again.
Smiling as she sits on her bed reading her letters, Maria is a child with big dreams.
I am sure I will reach my goals with Godâ€™s help and the support of my sponsor. One of my future goals is to become a fashion designer. At the moment I am going to school. I study hard, I get good grades and I also talk to my friends about God.Â
Project director, Gilberto, has seen the impact letters have had on Maria and the other children in the project: â€śMaria received many letters before and after the incident, and she has felt so valued and loved. Thatâ€™s the importance of sponsorship, because children do not only get financial support from their sponsors, but [they get] emotional support and thatâ€™s stronger.â€ť
The difference you make
We want to say a massive thank you to all our sponsors for writing to your sponsored children. Your words make a powerful difference. Like Maria, your child will re-read your letters over and over again. If youâ€™ve not written for a while, why not take this moment to send a message to them. You never know the difference your words could make.