By: Catherine Ryan   |   Posted: June 03, 2024

We invite you to pray for these three teenage girls who are breaking boundaries and building brighter futures of hope.

A Refuge of Hope for Teenage Girls

We invite you to pray for these three teenage girls who are breaking boundaries and building brighter futures of hope.

Written by Catherine Ryan
Photography by Vera Aurima, Kevin Ouma and Alejandra Zuniga
Girl looks out blue window

Teenagers in low-income countries face many of the same challenges as teenagers in the United States — peer pressure, academic stress and questions of self-identity. But those who live in poverty have even more dangers to navigate. This is especially true for teenage girls. In addition to facing stigmas that girls don’t deserve education, many teenage girls worldwide contend with the possibility of a forced marriage and — in some cultures — female genital mutilation (FGM).

Compassion’s child development centers are committed to encouraging teenagers, protecting them from harmful cultural practices and offering them opportunities to build brighter futures. Meet three girls who are breaking boundaries and building brighter futures of hope. We invite you to read their stories — and pray for them.

Daniela’s Dream

Daniella decorates cake

Young women in remote regions of El Salvador often lack a clear future. They neither study nor have jobs and fear becoming burdens to their families. As a result, many resort to entering relationships with men who can provide for their basic needs.

Daniela is a 14-year-old who was at risk of a similar future. She grew up as the middle child in a family that struggled with poverty, and there was never enough money to celebrate special occasions in the family, like birthdays. Daniela and her siblings never had enough money to buy a birthday cake. Then, one year, Daniela decided to make a cake for her sister’s birthday. From that day, her interest in baking and her enterprising spirit grew, and Daniela took every opportunity to learn and practice her baking skills.

When the Compassion staff noticed Daniela’s interest in baking, they decided to encourage her. With her mother’s involvement, the center gave Daniela financing to start a small cake-baking business and paid for her to attend classes where she learned cake-decorating techniques. Now, Daniela balances her schoolwork with her growing business demands. On average, she fulfills 40 cake orders per month.

As her baking career progresses, so do her hopes and dreams for the future. This new source of income opens doors of opportunity for her – and her family.

“In the future, I want to attend university and study gastronomy. I am saving right now to buy a car to do cake deliveries out of town,” says Daniela excitedly.

Please Pray: For Daniela’s school studies and growth in her business.

Hannah’s Courage

girl holds yellow balloon

When Hannah* was 13 years old, she overheard her dad discussing his intentions for her to undergo female genital mutilation. In their community in Kenya, the practice not only comes with physical and emotional scars but also often the promise of an early marriage. Even at her young age, Hannah knew she had to take a stand for herself and her future.

“I spoke to my mother about my fears, and we agreed that I would run away from home when the opportunity came,” Hannah shares.

With her mother’s support, Hannah followed their plan and fled to her aunt’s house. Then, she called the local Compassion center. Staff mobilized to protect Hannah and educated her further about FGM and how she can continue to protect herself.

Now, Hannah’s story of courage is an example to others in her community — especially young girls like her who may be at risk. As the fight against unhealthy cultural beliefs like FGM continues, Hannah’s story is a small, yet powerful, victory.

*Name changed to protect Hannah’s identity.

Please Pray: For Hannah’s ongoing safety as she speaks out against female genital mutilation.

Cherriel’s Future

Cherriel looks at camera

Cherriel is a 17-year-old high school student in Indonesia who dreams of becoming a pastor. She excels academically and is an excellent public speaker. However, her future is uncertain due to her parents’ financial situation. Simply, she doesn’t know if there will be enough money for her to pursue a career in ministry.

“The thing I worry about right now is my future. Since I was little, I really wanted to be a pastor, but when I learned about my parents’ current financial abilities, I thought I only had a small chance of achieving my dream,” Cherriel explains.

As this young woman manages the stress of an uncertain future, she makes sure to stay away from unhealthy temptations in her present.

“My biggest challenge right now is terrible teenage relationships. While I am still in a transition period, I am still looking for my identity, but bad relationships must not influence me. I must remain steadfast in God,” says Cherriel.

Please pray: That God would provide financial resources so Cherriel can continue her education and pursue ministry.

Here are more ways you can pray for teenagers and young adults.

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