Growing up in Portoviejo, Ecuador

Growing up in the crowded city of Portoviejo, Ecuador, Junior was surrounded by drugs, alcohol and gang violence. Junior’s mother lived in constant fear that her son would be a casualty of the city — either as a victim, or a perpetrator.

It Works: Junior’s Story

Compassion’s It Works program follows select children in each of the 26 countries we work in, documenting their journey through Compassion. Every five to seven years we visit these children, capturing interviews, film and photos, demonstrating how the Compassion program is working in these children’s lives and their progress through the program.

Meet Junior, from Ecuador!


Compassion It Works first visited Junior Vera when he was 6 years old. Growing up in the crowded city of Portoviejo, Ecuador, Junior was surrounded by drugs, alcohol and gang violence. Junior’s mother lived in constant fear that her son would be a casualty of the city — either as a victim, or a perpetrator.

But when Junior was 4, he was enrolled in the Compassion Sponsorship Program. His whole family began attending church together, and Junior excelled in school, specifically in his business and computer classes. Over the next 11 years Compassion continued to visit Junior, watching as he journeyed through the program.

“[Compassion] helped me move forward and keep me from derailing,” says Junior. “It’s helped my family too since all of us go to church now, even my dad, who didn’t do that some time ago. I can tell he’s changed. All of us attend church these days.

Junior is now 17 and a senior in high school. He hopes to study accounting in college. As he nears graduation and the completion of his time in the Compassion program, he says he can see God’s hand in his past, present and future.

“God has been working in my life indeed because now that I’m a young man I can see that society is full of friends and classmates of mine who chose different paths like alcohol and drugs, you know?” he says. “Besides, my mother taught me those things are wrong and has always taken me to church and led me towards the road of the Lord. It’s because of God that I never followed those bad steps.”