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How Relentless Love Stopped a Family From Falling Apart

Victor’s Compassion folder kept his family together during a time of crisis.

family in el salvador

You’re a happy eight-year-old living with your favourite person, your grandmother. While your grandpa works in the maize fields, you spend every moment with her, picking fruit, cooking and fishing in the reservoir.

Suddenly, life is thrown into uncertainty by the arrival of a letter. The absent father you’ve never met is threatening to take you away. Who would you turn to?

A grandma and a mum

From the moment their daughter left her home in El Salvador, Cristina and her husband have raised Victor and his little sister, Paola, as their own.

family poverty in El Salvador

“Their mum is the youngest of my nine children. She was only 14 when she gave birth to Victor,” explains Cristina. “She said she was in love with a man and was starting a new life [with him] and couldn’t take her two children with her. My daughter enrolled Victor and Paola in a Compassion project nearby, and after that, she left.”

Unknown to their mum, this act would one day keep the family together.

Cristina’s love for her grandchildren is relentless. Despite raising nine of her own children, she didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to take on the role of mum as well as grandma to Victor and Paola.

Every morning Cristina helps the children dress before walking with them to school. After their classes, Victor and Paola spend time at their Compassion project where they receive a meal and help with their homework. Cristina missed out on her own education and is grateful her grandchildren will have greater opportunities thanks to their Compassion sponsors.

Since I never learned to read or write, I cannot help Victor with any of his school work, so at the project they check his school progress and provide help, especially with maths.

As well as physical support, Victor also receives encouragement from his UK sponsor, who’s become another special person in his life.

My sponsor has sent me so many letters and photos I can’t fit them in two hands!” exclaims Victor, with much gratitude.

The arrival of a different letter

Things were going well for Cristina and the family until one particular letter shattered their stability. The note was from a lawyer, informing Cristina that Victor’s dad was seeking full custody.

Broken-hearted and lost for words, Cristina saw daily the difference Victor’s Compassion project was making in his life but knew his father would stop him from attending if he won custody.

“Victor didn’t want to go with his dad and leave us, his friends, his project or his sponsor. He was afraid he’d have to live with this man who was practically a stranger to all of us, so I went to his project for help, because I didn’t know what else to do,” recalls Cristina.

At the project, Cristina showed the lawyer’s letter to Meybel, the project director.

Compassion project team

“When I read the notification, I took Victor’s [Compassion] file out and told Cristina that on the court date, she needed to present the file to the judge. It was the proof of all the benefits Victor was receiving, which might help the judge understand Victor was already in good hands.”

A time of trial and tribulation

The first court hearing left Cristina feeling discouraged and very afraid. “Victor’s dad was paying a really good lawyer, and I didn’t have one,” she recalls.

Compassion folder El Salvador

Determined to not give up on her grandson, Cristina presented his Compassion file to the judge. She summoned every ounce of courage and explained how she’d missed her opportunity to go to school, but Victor deserved an education and all the benefits his sponsor provided through the local church-based Compassion project.

The judge took Victor’s file and went through every detail, page by page. He discovered Victor received regular health and dental check-ups, home visits and nutritional support. He read the many letters Victor and his sponsor had exchanged over the years. He learned that because of his sponsor, Victor’s family received a stove, a closet and a bed for Victor, as well as other benefits such as food baskets and clothes. Through the file, the judge understood that aside from the material things, Victor was also receiving spiritual guidance and a great deal of love.

On the day of the decision, the project staff all gathered outside the court, their voices filling the air as they lifted the family in prayer.

The judge stood to give his verdict. He explained what he’d seen in Victor’s file and that he was granting full custody to Cristina, saying, “Please keep him on the good paths.”

Victor was delighted by the news.

Thanks to my project and my sponsor, I am able to stay with my grandma. I wish I could tell my sponsor how special she is to me … I hope she knows she made this possible and that I’m happy.

Relentless love: A record of love and care

sponsored boy in El Salvador

Like Victor, every Compassion-sponsored child has a file. As you flick through, you’ll find a detailed record of the child’s growth and development through health and dental screenings, school reports and home visits. There’s also a copy of every message exchanged between sponsor and child.

They say it takes a community to raise a child, but a child’s Compassion file shows it’s a global community which is coming together to ensure children are known, loved and protected.

WORDS : Emily Laramy

PHOTOS : Nora Díaz



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