|   Posted: May 25, 2023

Whether they’re completing Compassion’s program, high school or university, these recent or soon-to-be graduates around the world have big dreams — and the skills and faith to make them come true.

The Graduate Most Likely To …

Whether they’re completing Compassion’s program, high school or university, these recent or soon-to-be graduates around the world have big dreams — and the skills and faith to make them come true.

Story and photos by Edwin Estioko, Eric D. Lema, Caroline A Mwinemwesigwa, Galia Oropeza, Akpene Samaty, Daniela Velasco and Willow Welter
a graduate celebrates

Graduation is a big deal for every student. It’s proof of hard work, a symbol of perseverance and a promise of a hopeful future.

For young people growing up in poverty, graduation can be an even bigger deal. Most of them have overcome incredible adversity, refusing to believe the message poverty speaks to them: Abandon hope. Instead, they chose to believe they could make a better life.

Unlike many young people growing up in poverty, these graduates had a powerful support system. They were known, loved and connected in Compassion’s program at their local churches. They had sponsors to write them letters of encouragement and help ensure they could go to school. And they had tutors and vocational training to help them build the skills they’ll need after graduation. With the help of these people and programs, these graduates believed that God had plans to give them hope and a future.

Meet part of the Compassion Class of ’23. Some of these recent or soon-to-be graduates are completing Compassion’s program, while others are finishing high school or university. They’re all stepping into their futures with skills and faith to make their dreams come true.

Most Likely to Inspire Future Graduates: Jojin

a teen girl holds a Bible

Jojin, 21, is about to graduate from Compassion’s program in the Philippines. She’s studying at a university to become a teacher, eager to be a source of hope to children and youths — just as the teachers at her Compassion center were for her. But her future didn’t always look so bright.

Born to a prostitute, Jojin was adopted as a baby by a caring woman named Carmelita, who promised her biological mother she would give her a good life. Carmelita toiled day and night as a peanut seller to provide for Jojin, hiding the fact that she had breast cancer. When Carmelita learned about the Compassion program at her church, where she was an avid volunteer, she enrolled Jojin.

“The church and the Compassion center became my second family,” Jojin says tearfully.

They were there for Jojin when Carmelita could no longer hide her illness. “They stood by my side when Mother was struggling with her health. They helped buy the necessary medicines when my mother had to stop selling peanuts — she couldn’t walk anymore because her feet had swollen so much.”

Jojin spent a year caring for her mother, dressing her wounds, feeding her and selling peanuts to sustain them.

“My mother was so selfless, starting when she first adopted me. … She sacrificed for me a lot, and when she got sick, I returned the favor.”

In 2019, Carmelita died in Jojin’s arms.

Despite Jojin’s hardships, she is not bitter. Although she still lives in economic poverty, she’s working toward a stable career in her area of passion, and there are so many reasons for hope.

“I don’t think about poverty. I just think about finishing school because that was the hope of my adoptive mom for me.”

Most Likely to Be the Next Steve Jobs: Karisse

Karisse stands next to his computer
Karisse sits at a table

Karisse, 23, recently graduated from the Compassion program in Togo. He is already CEO of his own startup company, funded with seed money from Compassion.

As a young boy, Karisse struggled with low self-esteem. But after joining Compassion’s program, he found confidence as he gained skills from his teachers at the Compassion center and encouragement from his sponsor’s letters.

He discovered a passion for computer science, and the center gave him training and a laptop to develop his skills. He failed his national exam twice and wanted to give up, but his sponsor’s encouragement made him determined to keep studying.

“I owe my success to my sponsor and her family,” Karisse says. “They dragged me out of the mud.”

In 2022 Karisse graduated from the Compassion program and launched a business startup specializing in event organization, communication, graphic design and computer science.

Karisse’s goal is to one day make the company known worldwide. In the meantime, he’s giving back to his community and supporting local Compassion centers by providing training in computer science and digital awareness to young people at about one-third of the average price.

“As the center has empowered me to become a computer scientist, I want to create something which can be used in all centers and be a motivation for my younger brothers,” he says. “When they see that this is done by a Compassion supported child, they can come up with greater innovations.”

Most Likely to Cure a Disease: Flomena

Flomena stands in her doctor coat

From an early age, Flomena in Tanzania was desperate to go to school, but her parents couldn’t cover the fees and other costs for their eight children.

But after joining Compassion’s program, Flomena’s school needs were covered, and she was able to get an education. With the encouragement of the Compassion center staff, Flomena set her sights on becoming a doctor. She completed secondary school and enrolled in university to study medicine.

In her second year at medical school, Flomena faced a daunting challenge. She had reached the maximum age to remain in the Compassion program. She worried that without the help of the program, she may not have the money to finish medical school. But the church saw Flomena’s potential and applied for a special intervention through Compassion, which paid her tuition and allowed her to continue her education.

Now, Flomena is on the verge of fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a doctor. She is about to graduate from university and become the first person in her family to complete higher education.

Despite financial obstacles, Flomena’s determination and the support of her local church and Compassion center enabled her to pursue her passion for medicine.

Most Likely to Be a Famous Clothing Designer: Julio

Julio sits at his sewing machine

Sometimes, a single moment can spark a dream that can change a young person’s life. For Julio in Indonesia, that moment came when he saw an old sewing machine at a friend’s house. He felt drawn to it, and the idea of becoming a tailor started to take shape.

So when his Compassion center started offering a sewing skills class, Julio signed up. For nine months, he learned the art of sewing. He practiced tirelessly, honing his skills with every stitch. With the help of a generous gift from his sponsor, Julio was able to buy his first sewing machine. He set up a small workshop in his home and began taking orders for simple garments. Julio’s craftsmanship and attention to detail soon earned him a reputation for quality work, and his business began to grow.

Now, Julio is eager to expand his skills and business. He dreams of creating beautiful wedding dresses, symbols of love and celebration, and is determined to make it happen. He is constantly learning and improving his skills, and he is excited about the possibilities the future holds.

Julio is a testament to the power of opportunity and determination. He started with a simple curiosity about sewing and turned it into a thriving business. He’s grateful for the support he received from the Compassion center, which provided him with the skills he needed and helped him access the resources to start his business.

Help a Student Succeed

a girl smiles at the camera

You can help a young person in poverty develop their potential.

a girl smiles at the camera