Among the paintings Javier Villca displayed at a recent art show was a portrait of Dennis Beard, his sponsor for the last nine years.
From a young age, Javier Villca showed a special talent for drawing and painting. When a neighbor who was an artist discovered Javier's gift, he began to teach the boy about technique.
By the time he was a teenager, Javier's painting was already advanced enough that he was able to sell his work in order to supplement the family income. At age 16, he was awarded a two-year scholarship to an art school,where he further improved his skills.
Javier is the oldest of seven children. His family is a member of the indigenous Quechua tribe in Bolivia. Years ago, his parents moved from a rural farming community to the city of Cochabamba, hoping to find better opportunities for their children. In the city, his father continued to raise vegetables and his mother sold them in the market. Javier's parents struggled to provide for their large family and he and his sister, Mariana, were eventually registered into Compassion Bolivia's sponsorship program.
As he grew up, Javier excelled not only in painting, but in his studies as well and, when he was ready to graduate from high school and Compassion's program in 1999, he was asked to be part of Compassion's Leadership Development Program (LDP). LDP allows exceptional Compassion graduates to continue their studies at a university and take part in leadership and discipleship training so that they can become influential leaders in their communities.
Today, Javier Villca is an architecture student at Aquino University in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He continues to excel at painting and even displayed his work at his university earlier this year. Among his paintings was a portrait of his Compassion sponsor, Dennis Beard. It was Javier's way of saying "Thank you" to a man who has been an important part of Javier's life for many years. Dennis, who lives in Canada, began sponsoring Javier in 1993 and continues to support him as he takes part in LDP.
Friends say Javier is passionate about his studies and his painting. He hopes that through his studies he will continue to help his family improve their situation. And with his painting, he says he hopes to influence and give back to society with the talents that God has given him.