With a new child to feed, the parents’ worries increased. They and the children often went to bed with hungry stomachs. But Ana managed to reach 3 years old, when a neighbor saw their plight and told her mom about a program for children at a nearby church. Pasesa took Ana to the church up the street, where they met Alejandro, director of the Compassion program there. After Pasesa told him about her children’s problems, Alejandro explained that at age 14 Carlos was too old to begin the sponsorship program, but Ana would be a perfect fit.
“He has done a lot for Ana,” Pasesa says of Alejandro. “The [Compassion] project helps Ana with school materials, her books and notebooks — everything she needs.”
The meals and snacks Ana eats at the center are a relief to Pasesa and Pablo, who still struggle to afford enough food for themselves and Carlos, now 21. Pablo still works long hours, making about 20 bolivianos — less than $3 — on a typical day. Pasesa sells toiletries at the market on Sundays, but mostly she stays home to watch over Ana and Carlos.
Many kids in the community hang out unsupervised in the streets while their parents drink alcohol. Alejandro, the Compassion program director, says alcohol is a big problem among adults and adolescents in Achacachi. Pasesa and Pablo, who don’t drink, feel calm knowing their daughter is playing and learning at her Compassion center rather than joining the kids in the streets.
Pasesa says her biggest concern is for her daughter’s education. Ana is thriving in that area. “I’m doing well at school,” Ana says. “I was the best student of the class for two years.”