By: Willow Welter.   |   Posted: April 25, 2024

These young people plan to use their God-given gifts and developing skills to achieve a future free from poverty.

When I Grow Up ... 4 Kids in Poverty Dare to Dream

These young people plan to use their God-given gifts and developing skills to achieve a future free from poverty.

Written by Willow Welter.
Photos and story by Nico Benalcazar, Piyamary Shinoda, Kevin Ouma and Junieth Dinarte.
Young boy wants to be a photographer.

In the silent corners of our world, where the harsh grip of poverty tightens its hold, there exists a resilient generation of children who dare to dream amidst adversity.

Born into the throes of extreme poverty, these young people defy the limitations imposed by their circumstances, fervently believing that tomorrow holds the promise of a brighter future. Despite facing unimaginable challenges, they harbor aspirations that transcend their current reality, envisioning a life where they can break free from the shackles of destitution and carve a path toward a fulfilling career.

Their dreams, like fragile seeds, seek fertile ground in those who recognize the transformative power of opportunity. Local churches, with the support of Compassion International sponsors and donors, are encouraging those children to dream big and to trust in God.

Hear from four children in different countries who are a testament of resilience, determination and the enduring spirit of hope. Their dreams, though born in the shadows of poverty, have the power to transform their futures.

Neymar, 7, Ecuador

When I grow up, I want to be a wildlife photographer.

Neymar of Ecuador photographs a dog.

In the beautiful landscapes of southern Ecuador, Neymar emerges as a beacon of hope against the backdrop of poverty. Growing up amidst the challenges that life in the region presents, Neymar harbors a profound passion for the natural world.

Despite facing economic hardships, this determined child aspires to become a wildlife photographer, capturing the beauty of Ecuador's rich biodiversity through his lens.

Neymar loves nature. He enjoys spending time with his dog, named Toby, who plays with him every day and who inspires Neymar in his passion for God's creation.

"I want to get a camera when I grow up, and I would like to take pictures of animals and happy kids around the world," says Neymar.

Neymar and his dog.

Neymar's dreams, like the elusive creatures he hopes to document, stand resilient in the face of adversity. His hope is fueled by an unwavering trust in God and a belief that his circumstances will not define the trajectory of his future.

In the quiet moments of Neymar's life, when scarcity and struggle loom, his faith acts as a guiding light.

Trusting in God's divine plan, Neymar is confident that his dreams of becoming a wildlife photographer will one day materialize. His journey serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit that can flourish even in the most challenging environments.

Neymar, with camera in hand and faith in his heart, embodies the transformative power of aspiration and resilience.

Aleya, 10, Thailand

When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.

Aleya, 10, Thailand.

In a small, square cement home in Thailand, joyful 10-year-old Aleya lives with her family of five.

She learns about careers and life skills at the Compassion center, where she enjoys playing with her friends and learning about how she can work toward achieving her dreams.

When she grows up, Aleya wants to be a teacher.

"I want children to have an education, and I want the children to have a bright future!" she says.

Adeline, 7, Kenya

When I grow up, I want to be a pilot.

Adeline, 7, Kenya.

Adeline lives in Kenya's capital city, where she attends Compassion program activities at a local church. Her dreams soar much higher than the makeshift roofs in her urban neighborhood.

"When I grow up, I want to be a pilot," she declares with unwavering conviction.

Her church isn't just a place of worship; it's a beacon of inspiration. Through the Compassion program, Adeline's dreams are gaining wings. The church, amid the challenges of poverty, nurtures her imagination and provides a glimpse of a future beyond her impoverished community.

Adeline stands on her rooftop as the sun sets, envisioning flying a plane over the neighborhood. "Yes, I believe dreams come true," Adeline affirms, her hands clasped in gratitude.

Mareck, 14, Nicaragua

When I grow up, I want to be a chef.

Mareck, 14, Nicaragua.

"When I was a little boy, I made an egg for the first time. Then I continued practicing, and when I was 11 years old, I told myself this is what I wanted to do — I wanted to be a chef," says Mareck.

He smiles proudly as he walks back from the local fruit vendor, where he went to buy food for the center's cook.

Mareck's love for cooking stems from long hours spent in the kitchen when he was a little boy, watching his mother, Saida, baking and cooking. He was fascinated by the baked goods his mother would later sell outside their home or take to the Compassion center for the children.

In their rural community in Nicaragua, finding a stable job is hard. Most people are day-to-day laborers with unstable incomes. But Saida always tried to make ends meet by cooking or baking, and Mareck saw the joy this brought her.

"When I was little, whenever she was cooking, I would go up to her and ask her if I could help her because I wanted to try baking too," he says.

When Mareck was 11, his center started a baking and cooking workshop for children in Compassion's program. To Mareck's surprise, his mother would be the teacher! Not wanting to miss the opportunity to formally learn everything his mother knew, he signed up as soon as registrations for the workshop opened.

"At first I was intimidated because I saw there were a lot of girls," he remembers. "But then I saw more boys sign up, and I realized that baking and cooking could be done by everyone, and I got very excited."

Since then, Mareck's love for cooking and baking has continued to grow, and the center staff have noticed how his love for creating delicious recipes has helped him become more confident and comfortable.

Mareck cooks with his mother, Saida.
Mareck cooks with his mother, Saida.

Just like his mother, as his knowledge continues to grow, Mareck wants to teach others about cooking and baking. "I'd love to help others by sharing all that I know about it and sharing my love for the culinary arts with others who feel that passion as well," says Mareck.

Once he's done helping at the center, he walks back down the dirt road that leads to his house. There, his mother is baking doughnuts, and he joyfully hugs her, excited to help her finish the batch. Despite the hardships his family sometimes faces, Mareck believes he will one day reach his goal.

"I believe dreams come true because, if we persevere and hold onto the Lord, I know we can make it," he says.

Equip a Young Person To Reach Their Dreams

Young girl shows off the cake she baked.

You can help them build valuable skills for their futures!

Young girl shows off the cake she baked.