Every week, Talita returns to the student center she attended as a child and volunteers with the kindergarten class. "I want to make a difference in their lives, like my teachers made a difference in mine," says Talita.
Each week, Talita volunteers at the Centro Educacional Betesda de Taua Student Center (BR-231). Her class of kindergartners crowds around her when she enters the room, eager to please her with their knowledge of colors and shapes. Talita makes an effort to speak to each child, to give out hugs and praises.
"Why Did He Leave?"
The laughter of her students sparks Talita's childhood memories of stirring bowls of thick beans and rice with her mother and watching her grandmother's nimble fingers sewing up holes in her clothes.
Talita's childhood was bittersweet. Her father abandoned the family before Talita was born, leaving Talita's mother with no way to care for her unborn child. Talita remembers the hushed, angry words her mother and grandmother spoke about her father words that would stop whenever she entered the room.
"I couldn't understand why my father left us," says Talita. "I suffered for years. I wished for a father to give me attention and love."
Through her suffering, Talita would learn an important lesson. It was impossible for her to know the love of a father she would never meet. But the love of Christ would help transform her into a young woman free of the bonds of poverty.
Talita was raised by her mother, Hilda, in a crowded home they shared with Hilda's mother and three cousins. Each evening, as Hilda walked home from her job as a maid, she passed dozens of teenage prostitutes.
At the site of their made-up faces and too-thin bodies, Hilda thought of her little girl, wondering what the child's future would hold. Would she look in the wrong places for the love of a father? What would she find?
Hilda sought a way to shield her daughter from the world she passed each day. One of the places she looked for help was at the Igreja Assemblé©¡ de Deus Betasda, a Compassion partner church known for its service to the community. Center staff helped Hilda enroll Talita in the Child Sponsorship Program.
Sponsorship provided for Talita's physical needs but it was the letters she received that became her lifeline.
"My sponsors had an important role in my life," says Talita. "I will always remember what they told me in their letters that the love of God will be with me forever. Those words were a balm to my heart. It was so good to know that there were people I had never even met before who wanted to help me and make a difference in my life."
Guiding the Next Generation
The simple words of Talita's sponsors planted a seed of love that Talita had never known. "It became very clear to me that God loves me that He loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me," says Talita. "Since I have become a Christian, God has helped me to overcome my pain. He took from my shoulders a heavy burden of sadness that I felt from my father leaving us. Now I know, God is my Father and He loves me so much."
Talita says her goal is to teach other children about the love of God especially those searching for love, as Talita was. Talita is now working on her teaching degree through the support of Compassion's Leadership Development Program. Each week, Talita takes the time to return to the student center, where she loves and cares for dozens of children many abandoned by their own families.
"I have the opportunity to show the love and the power of God ... I can teach the children to have hope ... I remind them that God loves them. That He restored my broken heart, took my heavy burden, and gave me peace. That He can do the same for them."
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