|   Posted: November 11, 2022

Meet Daniela Velasco, the storyteller behind your favorite stories from Mexico! Go behind the scenes with this Compassion photojournalist as she shares four great gifts that her work brings to her life in each story she documents.

4 Joys of Working with Children in Mexico

Meet Daniela Velasco, the storyteller behind your favorite stories from Mexico! Go behind the scenes with this Compassion photojournalist as she shares four great gifts that her work brings to her life in each story she documents.

Story and photos by Daniela Velasco
Daniela with Cristina and Jade

I never imagined all the growth and joy that would come to my life when I accepted the position as Compassion Mexico’s photojournalist two years ago.

People constantly ask me, what do you like most about your job?

The work itself — to be a channel representing the voices of children and families in my country — is rewarding. In the end, the whole process of sharing someone’s story is a gift that holds great riches for me. That is what I enjoy the most about this position.

Undoubtedly, the list of gifts I’ve received while documenting so many stories is long, but I’ll summarize them into four.

Daniela is standing outside with a group of children from the center

1. The Gift of Knowing More About God’s Love

“And so, we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” — 1 John 4:16

Something that has allowed me to know more about God’s love is continuously interacting with pastors, church families, center directors, staff and volunteers. They all constantly nurture themselves with God’s Word and are dedicated to serving their communities.

Without a doubt, these people clearly reflect the qualities of God’s love. I’ve observed compassion, dedication, responsibility, diligence, tenderness and many other enriching qualities in them.

Hearing the families’ testimonies is another way I have learned more about the Father’s love. I have seen the miracles that God’s love can make in the lives of families and children. I have seen spiritual transformations, empowerment and changes in mentality that end up transforming their lives.

I’ve tested and seen that God’s love always builds, strengthens and gives a true identity to people.

Being surrounded by these people awakens a desire for me to go deeper into the knowledge of God and his Word. I feel pushed to work more on myself and to continually nurture myself with the Word of God, trying each day to resemble at least a little more the living image of Christ.

Carolina is standing behind Daniela and is hugging her

2. The Gift of Recognizing God in All Creation

“I can find God in all the nature, in the animals, in birds, and in the environment.” — Pat Buckley

When we carefully observe nature and animals, we can find many of God’s qualities reflected in them and feel his greatness. Living in a close relationship with nature allows us to develop with true well-being. In its absence, stress, anxiety and lack of meaningful relationships with others and the world increase.

Simply traveling, driving on highways or walking to get to these communities allows me to contemplate majestic landscapes, sunrises and sunsets that are priceless.

Taking pictures at sunrise usually requires great effort. In many communities, there are no places for lodging, and I have to drive for a couple of hours to arrive at the community just in time for the golden hour.

But the few hours of sleep, the cold in the morning and other setbacks end up being insignificant compared to the magnificence of watching a sunrise and capturing images with greater visual and emotional impact.

Traveling has allowed me to find many qualities of God’s love and greatness embodied in nature and the communities. From plants and flowers to animals, from kids to elderly grandparents, from sunrises to sunsets, I’ve glimpsed that God speaks to his sons and daughters through all creation.

Daniela is standing outside and is taking a picture of Cristina

3. The Gift of Connecting with the Innocence and Light of Children

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who doesn’t play has lost forever the child who lived in him and who he will miss terribly.” — Pablo Neruda

Once at a center, I was taking pictures of some sports activities that the staff organized. I was ready to capture a moment when suddenly I felt a slight tug on my shirt. I looked down and saw a little 3-year-old girl who asked me if I could put my camera aside to play ball with her. She didn’t have siblings, and her friend hadn’t come that day.

I was amazed at the tenderness with which the girl told me this, and I couldn’t resist putting down my camera to play with her for a few minutes. Spending quality time with the children of the centers has allowed me to remember and reconnect with childlike qualities: innocence, purity, enthusiasm, optimism and the capacity for wonder.

Sadly, as we grow, diverse limiting beliefs, conditioning, disappointments and experiences of life start turning off more and more of these beautiful qualities until we can be completely disconnected from them.

But in my two years of this role — thanks to constantly interacting with children through playing with them, talking and connecting with their interests, observing them and receiving their affection — I have reconnected with my inner child.

And thanks to this, I have more fun doing my job and can connect with my most creative side.

Esperanza is playing with bubbles

4. The Gift of Living in the Present Moment

“Happiness is not in another place but in this place, not at another hour, but in this hour.” — Walt Whitman

In an accelerated world with constant distractions, stress and a lot of noise, most people live submerged in the worries of the future and anxieties of the past rather than in the present moment.

Being present is my favorite part of my job. Photography is a medium that allows me to be conscious and aware of everything that is around me: textures, colors, backgrounds, people, the sun’s position and the shadows that are being produced.

Connecting with the present allows me to leave all the worries, situations and stress behind to be immersed in what is happening in the present moment and to be able to connect and genuinely enjoy the people I photograph and the roads I walk.

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