When Leslie Henriquez was a little girl growing up in the community of Valle del Sol, El Salvador, one of her responsibilities was to help take care of her grandmother. The two had a special bond, and Leslie enjoyed their quiet moments together.
One of Leslie’s responsibilities was a bit unconventional for a young child. Every day she would clean her grandmother’s dentures. They were ill-fitting and uncomfortable, but still Leslie gently brushed them with a worn toothbrush. And as she brushed, she made her grandmother a promise.
“I am going to make dentures for you one day,” Leslie said. “When I grow up I am going to become a dentist. And I am going to make a set of dentures for you for free.”
Today, Leslie, a 19-year-old Compassion graduate, is working her way through dental school. Leslie was registered at the Amigos de Jesús Student Center when she was 8, and she says the support she received there made it possible for her to pursue her dream of becoming a dentist.
“I want to say that today I’m living the life I always dreamed of, and it’s because of the church and Compassion that I felt encouraged to do that,” says Leslie. “And also my sponsor was an important piece of all this and a key guide to me, for she was always telling to just go for it and do whatever it was that I wanted to do in life.”
Leslie is three semesters into dental school, and she has a long journey ahead of her — in El Salvador, dental school requires eight years of training. But she holds tight to her dreams, and to the promise she made her grandmother all those years ago.
“I want to become an excellent dentist,” she says. “I want to get married and start my own family, give a hand to my family, and then I also want to become a pediatric dentist. That is my dream.”