If you’re new here, our CEO, Wess Stafford, didn’t write this post, but he did answer the question. We recorded his answer and transcribed it for your reading pleasure.

Read all the posts in the Wess Speaks series.


  • What are the first names of the children you sponsor, and what countries? Any special stories you like to tell about them? (Juli Jarvis)
  1. Emmanuel (India)
  2. Rene (Haiti)
  3. Diego (Ecuador)
  4. Laura (Bolivia)
  5. Alba (Ecuador)
  6. Mercedes (Ecuador)
  7. Yolanda (Ecuador)
  8. Veronica (Bolivia)
  9. Sisay (Ethiopia)
  10. Fatuma (Uganda)
  11. Viola (Uganda)
  12. Melecio (Bolivia)
  13. Peter (Tanzania)
  14. Eliana (Ecuador)
  15. azmin (Ecuador)
  16. Soinkan (Kenya)
  17. Edithe (Burkina Faso)

I know these kids because if you come to our house, you’ll see a big poster next to our breakfast nook with these kids and their progressive pictures over the years. I have visited them all. These kids have been in our lives. About half of them have graduated from the program now, but they are still in my prayers. Some of them I am still in contact with.

Emmanuel now owns his own bicycle business. Rene is a pastor. Mercedes is an architect. Yolanda is the health worker in the Compassion project in Otavalo. Sisay just graduated from the program.

I would love to be a part of the Leadership Development Program. The minute one of our kids qualifies for the program, we’ll do that.

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  1. Jun 7, 2008
    at 9:44 am

    “Emmanuel now owns his own bicycle business. Rene is a pastor. Mercedes is an architect. Yolanda is the health worker in the Compassion project in Otavalo. Sisay just graduated from the program.”

    Praise the Lord…It’s amazing what a smidgen of hope can do in a child’s life.

  2. Jun 7, 2008
    at 10:50 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! I actually went to Otavalo when I was there for the Leadership Conference. I have only sponsored 3 so far, but one of them IS in the Leadership Development Program in Thailand, and mentioned meeting you and Pastor Dave in one of her letters! I hope to be there for her graduation in a couple of years. We’ve sponsored her since she was tiny, but I haven’t met her yet. I wish I could be of more help to the boy I sponsored in Haiti, who left when he got too old to continue. I sponsor his little brother now.

  3. Jun 7, 2008
    at 6:04 pm

    How fascinating to see what your kids have gone on to do with their lives. A pastor, a business owner, an architect — amazing!!!

    I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Wess for all of his posts — and for answering all of our questions. I’ve been so inspired by his answers that I went out and bought his book, “Too Small to Ignore,” and am reading it now. Wow — it is really powerful.

    I’ve never encountered another organization whose President/CEO has been so involved with its donors — and so willing to give of his time to really lead and inspire. I think it’s just super. It’s another reason to get behind Compassion and the amazing work it is doing.

    (If you are looking for another 10 questions person — bring back Gayle! I have some correspondence-related questions to ask and she seems to be the go-to lady on that topic.)

  4. Jun 8, 2008
    at 10:08 am

    Thanks so much for sharing all of Wes’s answers – I’ve been reading and enjoying them every day. :)

    Just being curious here, but it looks like more than a third of Wes’s sponsored kids have been from Ecuador…does anyone know if there’s something special about this country for Wes?

  5. Jun 20, 2008
    at 8:34 am

    Good question! It wasn’t an intentional choice for Donna and me to sponsor so many children from Ecuador, but it is kind of interesting how that all happened…

    In my early years with Compassion, I was taking sponsors to Haiti to see Compassion’s work firsthand. As the desire for more trips grew, I started making these same kinds of visits to Ecuador and I fell completely in love with the country.

    Ecuador, to me, is actually five countries in one because it has
    1) the Galapagos Islands, which are just amazing ecological wonders;
    2) the city of Guayaquil, which has a huge slum area;
    3) the beautiful colonial city of Quito;
    4) the mountainous area of Otavalo, where you find remarkable, industrious tribal people; and
    5) the dense jungle area, where the five missionaries were killed by natives back in the 1950’s. When I would take a group of sponsors to Ecuador we would see so many different aspects of poverty, all within the same country.

    Although through the years we’ve sponsored six children in Ecuador that is really because of close relationships we formed with just two families—many of our sponsored children were related.

    Mercedes was the first child I sponsored in Ecuador. The first time I visited her project she was carrying a great big flag in a parade they had thrown for our visiting group. She was a beautiful, smart girl and she really captured my heart. When I returned home and asked our staff for her sponsors’ name and address so I could write to them and tell them what a remarkable girl she was, I discovered that her sponsor had just cancelled. So, of course, Donna and I couldn’t resist becoming her new sponsors!

    Then, when Mercedes’s little brother Diego was old enough to join the Compassion project we sponsored him too.

    Alba and Yolanda are sisters from the second family that we grew to know. Their father is a pastor who subsidized his income by selling ice cream.

    On one visit Donna and I were able to give him an electric ice cream maker. We were happy to hear later what a help that little gift had been to the family. It made a big difference in his business and helped provide more money for his church.

    Two of our other sponsored children, Eliana and Jazmine, are nieces of Alba and Yolanda.

    So, that is how our family came to sponsor so many wonderful kids from Ecuador!

  6. Mike Stephens
    Mar 28, 2009
    at 11:18 am

    It is amazing to hear more and more stories Wes!!! Have you been to the Galapagos Islands!!! It definitely sounds like you have. I have only seen pictures and videos of people diving there!!! I can see how God’s majesty would be shown in an AWESOME way there just seeing a few amazing places underwater myself. But nothing that is straddling the equator!!!

  7. Nicola Bourne
    Jul 12, 2009
    at 10:50 pm

    Just had to share with anyone who will listen that I am overjoyed these days with all the blessings that have come into my life since I decided to sponsor a little boy in Rwanda — not the least being that he and I, and probably his family, too, are forming what I feel is a true bond of love.

    My latest blessing will enable me to contribute not only an extra donation to my sponsored child’s family, but to the unsponsored children’s fund, too.

    Great is Thy faithfulness has long been one of my favorite hymns. These days, I want to sing it out loud wherever I go!

    Thank you, Wes, for making sponsorships possible.

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