Nineteen years ago, Vicenta took her granddaughter, Mariela, to church so she could have her picture taken and, with that, Mariela was officially enrolled in our Child Sponsorship  Program.
Mariela’s mother left so she could go to work in the city. Mariela, only 10 months old at the time, was left in the care of Vicenta, who she calls “my mommy.”
“During my childhood years we had many financial struggles. My mommy had to make tortillas to sell so we could eat.”
They used to live in a house made out of tin sheets and plastic tarps and floors that became muddy during rainy season. Their small house they did not have running water, so they had to walk to the river to wash clothes and shower.
“Being able to attend the child development center was a blessing for me, especially because during my time at the center they paid half of my school tuition. The greatest contribution from Compassion was my schooling.”
Most families living in San Felipe, Guatemala cannot afford private school so children study at public schools, which are generally overcrowded. Through our ministry, Mariela was able to attend a private school. She graduated from the Child Sponsorship Program when she turned 16 years old.
“My favorite part of going to the development center was the snack. I remember that I loved when we had atol for snack. (Atol is a traditional cornstarch-based hot drink from Guatemala.)
It was very hard for us to have atol at home because of our financial condition. Sometimes we didn’t have any food, and going to the center helped a lot.”
During her time at the development center Mariela accepted Jesus as her savior but it was not until she went to the university when she fully understood everything she learned as a child.
“I remember it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how much Compassion had sown in my heart. I particularly remember how one of our teachers would tell us, ‘You were created to accomplish something big because God is Big.’ Those words are engraved in my heart forever.”
After she graduated from our program, Mariela finished high school with a certificate to teach. In Guatemala, students are able to add an extra year to high school in order to get a teaching certificate. This allows them to work as teachers right after they graduate and have a way to pay for college.
Mariela was sure she wanted to go to college so after she graduated high school so she started working at a private school in San Felipe to help pay for her speech therapy technician degree.
Currently, Mariela is a high school teacher in Centro Educativo Sinai and teaches 15 different subjects.
“I love to teach and I like every single subject I lecture on. The array of subjects range from speech therapy to philosophy.
Also, with the money I get from teaching I can pay my university fees, buy a computer and provide things for my house.”
She reminds her students that they were made to be big, because God is big. She wants to make the same impact her teacher made on her when she first heard those words.
Even though she needs to do her own homework as well as grade papers, homework, and tests from her students, Mariela finds the time to be involved in other various activities.
She helps at her church with the kids camps, youth camps and the anniversary celebration. In addition to that, she is the assistant treasurer of her church’s board and is in charge of all the fundraising sales for the church.
Someday, Mariela would like to get married and have a family of her own. She also wants to travel to different countries of the world. But her utmost dream is to become a pastor.
Mariela has been able to dream big and fulfill many of her dreams. And today, she dreams freely because she is free from spiritual, physical, emotional, and cognitive poverty in Jesus’ name.