With the encouragement of his sponsor and the help of the Leadership Development Program, Andrew dismissed the lies of poverty and pursued his dreams.
Andrew comes from a neighborhood called Alfonso Ló°¥º, located in Cali, Colombia, a city of 2.3 million residents. Despite the hostile, destructive environment that characterizes this community, neighbors here help one another to fight against poverty and the resulting violence and hopelessness it brings.
Compassion has been working in this community for several years, promoting holistic child development among the neighborhood's youngest residents. Many at-risk children have been impacted, including Andrew, who has been thankful for the opportunity to build a better life.
Andrew entered Compassion at the age of 6. His father never had a formal job, believing he had to work for God without demanding an income. Though Andrew's mom worked hard to find domestic work, the family faced extreme poverty.
Andrew's Sponsor Helps Him Dream
As a Compassion-assisted child, a huge burden was lifted from Andrew's parents. Andrew was able to attend school and receive two meals a day. He also built meaningful relationships with his mentors, friends, and sponsors, who played a key part in the decisions he would make regarding his future.
"The relationship with my sponsor meant a lot to me; it made me feel glad that someone cares about my process," says Andrew. "It let me dream of obtaining new achievements." Most important, his time with Compassion taught him about the love of God and the adoption of Christianity as a lifestyle.
A New Reality
As his time as a sponsored child came to an end, Andrew learned about the Leadership Development Program (LDP), which was just beginning in Colombia. After filling out the necessary paperwork and going through all the interviews, Andrew was told he had to wait. He remembers that as the most difficult step in the process trusting that God was in control of his dreams and that He alone knew if the Leadership Development Program would be a step toward them. After waiting a few weeks, Andrew was notified that he was accepted into the program.
Andrew entered the university with a mix of happiness and uncertainty. Many people were counting on him, and he felt the weight of their expectations. Added to that was the unfamiliar academic climate, where the majority of students and faculty considered themselves atheists and mocked the values so dear to Andrew. He also lost his father during this time and says it was Compassion's emotional and spiritual support that helped him understand the purpose of God in the midst of pain.
A Dream Fought For
In May 2010, the first wave of Colombian LDP students graduated, with Andrew among them. With a degree in occupational therapy, he now works for a governmental health security service. He provides therapy for patients in their homes.
A few months after receiving his degree, Andrew already sees the fruits of the long journey he has been on through Compassion. After losing his father, he is now the oldest brother and responsible for leading and providing for his family. His job enables him to do this. He also continues to be a servant leader by helping with the children and youth at his church.
Now Andrew dreams of one day owning his own business and building a family. He also hopes to travel through Colombia helping people affected by landmines. It is his desire to invest all he has learned and gained back into his community.
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