Compassion Helps Make a House a Home

Compassion Helps Make a House a Home

A Child's Journey From Despair to Hope

By: Brandy Campbell with Adones Martinez in Dominican Republic   |   Posted: December 11, 2006

Maria Morales engages in her studies, which are helping her overcome her circumstances and pursue further education.

Maria Morales often helps her mother care for her younger brothers and sisters. Maria is an inspiration to her siblings, who hope to follow in their sister's footsteps.

Each evening Maria and her mother share the kitchen table. Maria uses it as a desk for her homework while Amí® shapes crusts for the pies she sells at the local market.

A single candle illuminates the small room, shadows flickering over the bed in the corner where one of Maria's brothers sleeps. The smell of vanilla and cinnamon fills the tiny house and puffs of flour rise from the table as Amí flattens the dough with nimble fingers. Maria absently traces a pattern in the flour dust as she reads her lessons, her brow furrowed in concentration.

Amí pauses to wipe her brow, and as she watches her daughter, her eyes fill with tears. This mother utters a silent prayer of thankfulness for a God who cares for her family and a stranger in another country who has helped provide a new life for Maria.

A Recipe for Success

Amí has never stopped dreaming for her seven children. Raising her family in the shadow of Santo Domingo, a city of more than 2 million people, Amí constantly struggles to shield her children from the prostitution, violence and drug abuse that fill the streets outside their home. Yet while her husband works in another city and is rarely home, Amí often feels despair. Will her seven little ones ever know a life outside their tiny, cramped home with its leaking roof and drafty walls?

When Maria was registered at the Compassion-assisted Divino Maestro Student Center, Amí's despair was replaced by hope. In a community where 90 percent of children do not complete elementary school, Amí saw the tutoring and education Maria received at the project as a fulfillment of her dreams for her daughter the opportunity for a better life through education. Since her husband's salary as a hotel employee barely provided necessities such as food and clothes, Amí began making baked goods to sell in the community.

"I want my children to have an education, because then they can have a good job," says Amí "Nowadays, even to collect the garbage you have to be literate. Compassion will help my daughter with school in a way that I never could."

Encouragement From a Foreign Friend

Maria's younger siblings, Leo and Ana Jissel, look up to her as more than a big sister & she is also an inspiration. She cooks meals for them when her mother is tired, and she helps them get ready for school. She teaches them the Bible stories she learns at the Compassion project and helps them with their homework.

The entire family gathers around when Maria gets a letter from her sponsor, and after they read the words aloud, they pray for this family who, though thousands of miles away, has deeply shaped their lives.

"My sponsors ask me lots of things and encourage me to be good," says Maria. "Mostly I get letters from their daughter, who is my age. My family and I pray for them, and one day I hope to meet them so I can tell them 'thank you.'"

True Gratitude

Because of her education at Divino Maestro Student Center, Maria now hopes to one day attend college and become a psychologist. She says it can be difficult being a Christian in a community filled with delinquent youth, but she draws encouragement from her friends at the Compassion project and her sponsor's letters.

Some evenings, while pies are cooling and after homework is finished, Maria will bring out her letters from her sponsors. As she rereads the worn pages, she feels gratitude. Gratitude for a mother who refused to give up in the face of poverty. Gratitude for a life filled with hope. Gratitude for dreams fulfilled.

What did you like about this story?