Sthefany’s first memories are of violent fights between her mother and father. As she grew into a young adult, Sthefany learned to fight bitterness against her dad with the love of the Father — and now she’s teaching other teens about that same path to forgiveness!
"One of the first memories I have is a night when I was sleeping, and I heard my parents arguing,” says Sthefany. The young girl had crept out of bed and was met with a terrifying scene — her father screaming, her mother lying bruised and beaten on the floor.
“I was only able to yell ‘ENOUGH!’ at the top of my lungs,” says Sthefany. “At that very moment, I started hating my dad.”
After that night, Sthefany and her mother moved in with her grandparents, who were devoted Christians. One of her aunts encouraged Sthefany’s mother to enroll her child at the Compassion center near their home.
“The Compassion project was like a second home to me,” says Sthefany, “where I could feel the warmth of a home I did not have since my parents were separated. I remember my tutor, Luisa, with great fondness, and how she shared Bible stories with me.”
While Sthefany loved the time she spent at the center, she still struggled with her relationship with her father, who she only saw a few times a year.
“Every time I saw my friends with their dads and moms, I wondered why I couldn’t have my father’s affection,” says Sthefany. “I always asked God why, and I blamed myself for it. I would go home and lock myself in my bedroom, and I would lay in bed and cry all night long.”
The staff at the center saw Sthefany’s struggles and helped her get counseling and support. She and other teenage girls would often confide in their tutors about their broken relationships with their fathers, and there they found a safe place to grieve and heal.
Sthefany says that while it didn’t happen overnight, she was slowly able to overcome the bitterness and anger that she had felt toward her father. And today, as a teenager, she is able to help other girls walk through similar journeys.
“I have now forgiven my dad,” says Sthefany. “It was not easy to forgive him … however, when you realize God loves us despite our mistakes, you can take that step to forgive.”
Today, as part of the Youth Development program, Sthefany is studying psychology at a local university. She also runs a blog to help young girls struggling with broken families, and she is actively involved in mentoring teens at the center.
“My biggest goals are finishing my studies in psychology and helping families,” says Sthefany. “I am currently helping at the project and I am in charge of executing psychological tests to children. I also give workshops, addressed to parents, on how to properly have a good family life.”