How Does Child Sponsorship Work

How Does Child Sponsorship Work.
Faces of Effectiveness
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By: Willow Welter   |   Posted: June 02, 2013

Mariela Chay Skin loves to teach, and she loves to learn. "The greatest contribution from Compassion in my life was my schooling," says Mariela, who graduated from the Child Sponsorship Program and finished high school with a certificate to teach. In her native Guatemala, students can add an extra year to high school to get teaching certificates and start work immediately after graduation. Mariela has taught at a private high school in Guatemala for more than seven years.

But before she began academic lessons in the classroom, she was learning difficult lessons at home.

Abandoned by her parents at 10 months old and left with her grandmother — whom Mariela calls "Mommy" — knew it, too, so Vicenta enrolled the girl in Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program.

"Being able to attend the Compassion project was a blessing for me, especially because during my time [there] they paid half of my school tuition," Mariela says.

Through Compassion, Mariela was able to attend private school through junior high. Guatemala's public schools tend to be overcrowded.

After earning her high-school diploma and teaching certificate, Mariela knew she wanted to continue to learn. "While I attended the project I realized the importance of education. I think Compassion had a lot to do with the fact I wanted to be a university graduate," says Mariela, who is on track to graduate later this year from a private university with her psychology degree.

"I love to teach," she says. "Also, with the pay I get from teaching, I pay my university fees."

She lives with Vicenta, and the woman no longer have to rely on sheets and tarps for protection from the elements. They live in a home with concrete walls and floors, and a tin roof.

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When his son was born last year, schoolteacher Evans Ateku surprised some of this relatives by naming the baby Albert rather than a family name. But the Kenyan father could think of no better way to honor Kristen Albert, the California woman who sponsored him when he was a child in Compassion's program. Now Evans is hoping to have a daughter.

"I know what my girl's name will be . I will name her Kristen, my sponsor's first name."

Before we knew the name Kristen Albert, a young Evans would watch his mother leave early each morning in search of food for their family of seven. Her desperate attempts, which often didn't end until late at night, weren't uncommon in his village.

"I remember that food was scarce," Evan says. "People fought for food."

Then, in 1987, Compassion staff learned of Evans' situation and registered him as on of the first students at the Anglican Church of Kenya Maseno Child Development Center. Evan says he fondly remembers days when he would go to the center and see his friends and eat a meal. "My favorite dish was gather [maize and beans]. I still remember how good it tasted."

After the high-achieving student graduated from the Child Sponsorship Program in 1997, Evans was eager to go to college but doubted he could afford the tuition. Then he remembered his sponsor's gift. They sold the family cow and some of her calves to pay his tuition.

Evans went on to study math and chemistry, graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree. Experiencing the power of education firsthand motivated to help all four of his siblings complete college. Their jobs now include government officer, forwarding agent, lab technician and accountant.

"I am grateful to God, first for allowing me to be alive, to have the strength to work hard," says Evans, who now serves the Anglican Church of Kenya by overseeing its spiritual and financial development. "And now, (for) the beautiful wife and child He has given me."