In March 2007, Ana Cláudia, the youngest child of five siblings, got the approval of the Leadership Development Program (LDP) committee and started her path toward a bright future. She was part of a selected team of young people who overcame their circumstances during their child sponsorship period. The 20-year-old young lady faced a hard process, but now is studying pedagogy at Faculdades Cearenses in Fortaleza City where she lives.
What if you don’t make it? But I will.
And if you don’t? All my efforts and expectations are focused on LDP. I know I will make it.
“She was not the only one of my children to have the opportunity to attend high school, but she was the only one to have the will and opportunity to attend college. I thank God for her life,” says Mrs. Maria, a 54-year-old widow who raised her five children, including Ana Cláudia, by herself.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)
Ana Cláudia’s father was murdered during a holdup at the company where he used to work as a sentinel. She was only 15 days old.
Compassion became part of Ana Cláudia’s life when she was 9 and was enrolled at the child development center near her home.
“The child center was and still is a reference in my neighborhood. Here where we live, children have so many options of wrong things they can choose to do. They have no orientation or hope, and many times no respect or love.
“For this reason I see my former child center as a shelter offering to the children a healthy life in many ways. Just like it happened to me.”
Most of Ana Cláudia’s childhood friends are pregnant or have already had babies.
Ana Cláudia used to be a very present child. Every day after school she was there, anxious about lunch – sometimes the best meal of her day – and play. Ballet, arts and guitar were her favorite classes.
“Sometimes I had to ask her to come back home. Otherwise she would live there forever!” laughs Mrs. Maria.
It was also there where Ana Cláudia had a meeting with Jesus, accepting Him as her Lord and Savior during a youth camp. She was 14 when it happened.
Talkative, kind and funny, this young woman leaves home every morning at 6 and goes to the university by bus. On her lap are books about education and leadership. On her heart are many plans and dreams about the future – she makes checklists about her next conquests.
After classes, Ana Cláudia goes to work at an informatics school where she started by giving advertising pamphlets to people on the streets. Now, 1 1/2 years later, she is the pedagogical coordinator there.
“My child center used to have a partnership with an informatics school. So, when I turned the right age to attend a course, I started it. After three months when I finally finished it, they invited me to work there. It was one of my goals for that year – get a new job. And I knew would get it.
“I think people see leadership qualities in me because I am responsible, involved in whatever I am doing, besides being a very determined person.”
Ana Cláudia earns about $300 a month, and with her wage she joined her 23-year-old sister, the last single sibling besides her, and bought brand-new furniture for their kitchen and living room. But her day-to-day life is not easy, and to give herself and her mother a better life, every night after work at about 9 p.m., Ana Cláudia returns home taking three buses. She could take only one, but the way from her job to the bus stop is very dangerous.
“It takes more time, but doing this way is safer for me. The first bus takes me in front of the informatics school, and the last one leaves me five minutes by foot from my home.”
It’s almost 12 a.m. and only some boys smoking marijuana are on the street when the leader of the future arrives at home. And to ensure she is really safe, Mrs. Maria is there at the bus stop, waiting for her child.
“It is worse when I am on my tests period at college and have to study until 3 in the morning. Sometimes I just sleep over my books.”
With so many tasks, attending church is only possible on weekends, when Ana Cláudia takes part in the child ministry.
Ana Cláudia may have lost her father, but according to her she has now a great family that she can count on. Her classmates from the LDP are seven other students taking the same course. She loves the books on leadership that they read and discuss together.
“Everything I know about leadership and teamwork I have been learning through LDP meetings, books and the relationships I have there. It is so amazing!
“I am becoming a better person each day – learning more with my mentor and classmates. I just admire each one of them.”
Her next goal is to achieve a higher position at her company and share Jesus’ love with children. She already has the determination and appropriate tools to achieve it.
For every Ana Cláudia, 10 brilliant leaders are waiting for the opportunity to shine. These students are eager to change the world, but they need a helping hand.
Right now, we have more than 150 LDP students waiting for sponsors. These students have been handpicked as future Christian leaders. They have excelled in high school, proven their leadership abilities, and demonstrated strong Christian character.
Will you sponsor a leadership student?