A Good Start

A Good Start

By: Brandy Campbell, with Paul Henri Kabore   |   Posted: October 16, 2008

Compassion Motivates Boy to Change His Family's Future

Francis, center, who sits with his uncle and mother, right, his aunt and his cousins and siblings, has become a role model for the younger children.

Things are never quiet in Francis' home. While the morning is still gray, his mother and two aunts gently shake the shoulders of the children sleeping in a tangle on the floor, waking Francis and his nine cousins.

Bleary-eyed, the children stumble into the cool morning air. Some feed the chickens scattered around the dusty yard. The older girls help their mothers build fires under heavy pots where they will cook yaon, a local food made of beans, leaves and millet powder.

For a family this large, there is no money for fruits, vegetables or meat. It is only for special occasions that they even have rice.

NEVER HAVING ENOUGH

Francis can't remember life before he and his mother came to live with his uncle, Pierre. While he was a toddler his father died, and Pierre, in the tradition of the Mossie tribe, took in the widow and her son. He had already done the same for another brother's widow, and now 14 people lived in the three-room hut.

While Pierre loves his nieces and nephews, he can offer them little more than a shelter from the streets. He works as a bricklayer, earning just U.S.$5 a month. Even when Francis' mother and his aunts collect firewood to sell, it only adds a few more cents a day.

Francis grew up never having enough. There was never enough water for everyone to bathe. Never enough food for everyone to eat. Never enough money for school or new clothes. 

But a little more than a year ago, when Francis was 5, his uncle learned of a Compassion-assisted child development center accepting children in their village. Francis was the right age, and his uncle immediately took him to the church to apply.

That day, Francis became the first registered child at the AD Tanghin Dassouri Child Development Center (BF-113). Finally, for Francis, there was enough.

BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE

The weeks following Francis' registration were a blur. One day his uncle led him to the mud-sided elementary school to register for first grade. The next, they went to the center to collect crisp, new clothes. Francis stared at the bundle in his arms. He had never worn clothes that had not already been worn thin by an older cousin.

At school, he is an eager, exemplary student. He knows the hours he spends in the classroom are a gift. He knows, because each morning he leaves his cramped home, saying goodbye to his cousins who work instead of going to school. But Pierre believes that Francis will change the world beginning with his own family.

"In our village, we have a proverb that says 'Si-soaag na yi neer bangda a zome.' This means, 'a good start foretells a good end,'" says Pierre. "I believe that Compassion is giving Francis a good start, and that he will grow into a good man ... a man who can take care of his family. Before entering the Compassion center, the child had no plan for the future at all. It is thanks to Compassion that he has learned so many things and has started to build plans for the future."

READY TO GIVE BACK

Francis, now 6, eagerly tells anyone who will listen about those plans. "I want to be a school headmaster when I grow up," he says, "so I can help all children go to school. Even those who don't have any money. And when I am a headmaster, I will be able to buy food for my family. I will help them." 

Pierre has no doubts about his young nephew's ability to change the world. He has already seen that impact in their own family, as Francis serves as a role model for his younger cousins. If Francis can escape poverty, maybe they can, too.

"Compassion is a cornerstone for our family," says Pierre. "They are changing my child's future. They are changing the future of our entire village. By the grace of God, Compassion will change the world."

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