What Does Sponsorship Mean for a Child in Poverty?

What Does Sponsorship Mean for a Child in Poverty?

By: Orfa Cerrato with Brianne Mullins   |   Posted: December 02, 2010

For a child living in desperate need, a sponsor can be poverty's worst enemy.

Ricardo understood how desperate his family's situation was. He longed for a sponsor to pray for him and give him encouragement.

Thirteen-year-old Ricardo has not known a life without difficulties. He is the third child in a family of four. His mother, who is single, has neither a job nor help from the children's father. The children's uncle helps whenever he can by providing some food for the family, and the aunt sometimes helps by providing support for the only girl in the family.

Even with their help, it is difficult to support four children as a single mother.

Ricardo's Burden

In the midst of this poverty-stricken community is a church partner where many children, including Ricardo, attend a Compassion-assisted child development center. Twenty percent of the 311 registered children at this center are unsponsored. Unfortunately, Ricardo falls into the category of unsponsored children who are longing for someone to love and sponsor them.*

Ricardo's mom, Rita, does everything she can to provide for her children. She usually boils beans so she can sell them and feed her family a little bit of food. Sometimes she feels hopeless because she doesn't have anything to give to her children, which compels her to borrow money from the neighbors.

Even at his young age Ricardo understands how desperate his family's situation is and therefore he tries to find ways to help his mother. Taking on this burden in the absence of a father figure has been a monumental task. He longs to be sponsored so that he has someone to come alongside him and offer him encouragement.

A Beacon in the Midst of Darkness

Fortunately, the Compassion center has relieved some of the family's financial burdens. Having Ricardo registered at the center has helped Rita a lot since he receives meals, a uniform, school supplies and other items from the center. In addition to all this help, Rita expressed that she is most grateful to the center because Ricardo learns about God.

"All of our children benefit equally because the budget includes a fund for unsponsored children," the center director explained. "The only difference would be the letters and special gifts that unsponsored children don't receive."

Ricardo was previously sponsored for three years, but his sponsor cancelled two years ago. Although he no longer has the joy of receiving letters, this has not stopped him from growing spiritually and being active in both the center and church activities. He received Jesus and was baptized in 2008.

"Pray to God for a sponsor."

"We encourage children to pray that God will give them a sponsor, because some of them get discouraged after being unsponsored for a year or more. Some of them don't want to come or parents keep asking 'Why not my child?'" expressed the center director.

Ricardo, like all of the unsponsored children, is waiting for a supportive heart and hand a sponsor that will provide him with encouragement along the way.

"I need a sponsor to help me keep on going. Thank you and continue helping because God will give you more," said Ricardo.

Ricardo is working towards his dream of becoming of pharmacist. A sponsor will be able to encourage him through letters, pray for him, and remind him that God has a plan for his life.

*At the time this was written, Ricardo had been unsponsored for nearly two years. He has recently been sponsored. His story is like so many of the unsponsored children who long for the encouragement and love that a sponsor offers.

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