Ndanu and Fatima live 8,747 miles apart.¬†Ndanu lives on her uncle's farm in Kajiado, Kenya, whilst Fatima is growing up in a bustling suburb on the outskirts of Guatemala City.¬†These girls may lead very different lives, but there‚Äôs a thread of tragedy that weaves their stories together.
Ndanu and Fatima¬†were orphaned at the age of four.
As girls born into poverty, they already faced barriers to education and opportunity. But at such a young age they were dealt an extra blow. The statistics spoke a bleak outcome over them: less access to education and healthcare, a greater likelihood of becoming trapped in child labour.*
But against these projections came two local churches and two Compassion sponsors. Thanks to this unique support network, Ndanu and Fatima have been welcomed into new families.
An innocent four-year-old, Ndanu was oblivious to the tragedy of her own situation. With an absent father, her mother‚Äôs sudden death threw her world into turmoil.
Who would look after her? Provide for her? Offer much needed guidance?
‚ÄúNdanu was a tiny, playful and very outgoing girl,‚ÄĚ explains Eunice, the social worker from her Compassion project. "She was still too young to understand what was going on.‚ÄĚ
Ndunu has a brother and two younger siblings. The project did everything they could to keep them together. They supported Ndanu‚Äôs older brother as he stepped in to become the family‚Äôs caregiver and, thanks to RESPOND, were able to provide the family with extra food and resources.
‚ÄúWe constantly visited them at home, spoke with her elder brother and encouraged them to trust in God,‚ÄĚ says Compassion project director, Margaret.
But Ndanu‚Äôs brother was only a teenager. He began to leave the family home for long periods of time, neglecting his younger siblings. The responsibility was too much.
‚ÄúWe weren‚Äôt sure what was going to happen to Ndanu,‚ÄĚ describes Margaret. ‚ÄúMiraculously, as we were looking for options, someone told us abouth Ndanu‚Äôs uncle who lived nearby. When we approached him, he graciously accepted to take her in.‚ÄĚ
Ndanu‚Äôs uncle and aunt had the heart to care for her and her siblings, they just lacked the financial resources. Ndanu‚Äôs sponsor was the helping hand the family needed. ‚ÄúI was challenged to help these children after my sister passed away,‚ÄĚ says Ndanu‚Äôs aunt through her tears. ‚ÄúBut I could not let them go without care.‚ÄĚ
Ndanu is now thriving. Her aunt, uncle and Compassion project family have stepped into the gap to provide a vital support network.
‚ÄúI may not know my earthly father, but I am comforted by the fact that I know my Father in heaven,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúI also have a father figure in my uncle. My uncle inspires me to be a better person in life so that I can also one day become a blessing.‚ÄĚ
By the time Fatima was eight, she‚Äôd forgotten what it was to play.
Her days were filled with washing and ironing clothes. From first light till dusk, she looked after her elderly grandparents. Along with her four brothers, she'd moved to their house after both her parents passed away unexpectedly. Her grandmother, Celedonia, welcomed Fatima warmly, but she soon became reliant upon her for completing everyday chores.
Tragedy robbed Fatima of four years of childhood.
Every time Fatima walked past the local church in Ciudad Peronia, she heard children laughing and having fun. ‚ÄúI really wanted to be there,‚ÄĚ she remembers.
Eventually Fatima persuaded her grandmother to take her to see the staff at the Compassion church project. They didn‚Äôt have to think twice: this young girl needed the support of the programme.
‚ÄúI waited so long to hear that I was part of the project,‚ÄĚ Fatima exclaims. ‚ÄúBut now I am now happy, so it was worth the wait!‚ÄĚ
The support that Fatima‚Äôs sponsor Jessica has given this little girl has been beyond anyone‚Äôs expectations.
‚ÄúMy sponsor writes often. Every time I receive a letter I feel ecstatic,‚ÄĚ says Fatima with a vibrant smile. "The nicest thing that my sponsor has ever told me is that she loves me so much that she has a big family, and I am included in it.¬†I feel the love that my birth mother wasn't given the opportunity to give me.‚ÄĚ
*UNICEF, Africa's Orphaned Generations