The world feels a little wild at the moment, the future unknown. Yet every day I see stories about society’s smallest and most vulnerable members — children — who are facing extreme challenges with their heads up and their shoulders back.
Children — those funny, remarkable, resilient and surprising people — are one-third of our population and all of our future. If you need some hope today, here are 20 reminders that children are our future, and the future is in good hands.
1. Jasper’s remarkable first drawing
Many parents proudly marvel at their child’s first artwork — even if it’s just a few scribbles. Jasper’s mother does too, but for a different reason: He created the drawing using his toes!
Jasper was born without arms in the Philippines. When he first tried to draw a picture using his toes, his mother was worried. But full of confidence, the 3-year-old said, “Don’t worry, Mama, I can do this.” And he did. The first picture he drew using his toes was for his sponsor.
2. Sharing letters with her animals
Lizbeth always has a rapt audience as she reads her sponsor’s letters aloud in Ecuador. Not only do her school friends smile at her sponsor’s beautiful words, but the animals she cares for listen attentively too!
3. Girl power in the Philippines
Ariane is sweetly challenging gender stereotypes in her fishing village in the Philippines. “I help my father to tie his fishing nets; that’s expected of me as a girl,” she says. “What’s not expected of me is to help haul in the catch, but I do it anyway because I want to help my family.”
4. Maisa’s dream of flying
Like the feathered friend next to her, Maisa dreams of flying. She was born in Brazil with a congenital condition that meant her legs didn’t develop. Despite being unable to walk, her optimism is infectious. “I want to be a bird,” she says. “If I could fly, I would fly as high as possible until I reached Jesus. He lives in heaven, and I’d love to meet him.”
5. Pauline’s childhood restored
This photo is more than just a cute picture of a little girl chasing a goat — it represents the freedom of a restored childhood. You see, Paulina’s father pulled her out of school because he wanted to arrange her marriage. Compassion’s church partner in Tanzania intervened, and today the 10-year-old is safe and back in the classroom. “I want to be a Swahili language teacher in the city of Arusha,” she says.
6. The new lending library
This was the quiet scene after Snighda and Prosanto visited their first library! The concept of borrowing books was so new in their village in Bangladesh that center staff had to explain what a library was. “My child brings home books for reading every week,” says father Biren. “It makes me proud to see my girl able to read and write, which I have never been able to do as a farmer since I was a teenager.”
7. A light bulb moment
Most children will do anything to put off doing their homework, but not Dennis. Until now, he couldn’t study at night because his family’s home didn’t have electricity. Today, the 11-year-old grins as he finishes his classwork under his family’s brand-new solar light. He is at the top of his class. “We have come from the darkness into the light,” says Muendi, his mother.
8. Bathing buddies in Thailand
Meet Weeview and his best friend and unusual bathing buddy: his water buffalo, Mae-Preaw. “She’s always had a tender loving care for me. And I always play in the water with her when she is taking a bath,” says the 5-year-old.
9. Cheeky friends in Kenya
Girls just wanna have fun, and these sweet friends’ joy is infectious!
10. A new hero in town
Move over, Superman: Potikorn is coming for your cape. “I want to be a soldier when I grow up. I think a soldier is very strong, and they wear a green uniform,” says the 9-year-old in Thailand. “I saw it on TV. I like soldiers because they can protect people too.”
11. Bravery in Bolivia
Could 15-year-old Melani be the bravest girl in Bolivia? The orphan is being raised by her grandparents and is her family’s primary provider. She works in a cemetery, cleaning tombstones on the weekend to earn an income. “I am happy, and what makes me happy is that my grandmother is next to me,” she says.
12. Meet Samsoudine, future mechanic
Is this a glimpse of Samsoudine’s future? The 6-year-old and his younger brother in Burkina Faso play with a tire outside their home — something he hopes he’ll do for a living when he’s older. “I want to become a car mechanic when I grow up to repair many broken vehicles in the city,” he says, “and build a big house for my mother and dad.”
13. School is cool for Jose Luis
Head thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, and arms flung in the air: This was Jose Luis’ joy on his first day of kindergarten in Bolivia. “I’m happy to be in school,” he says. “I will do my homework and obey my teacher.”
14. Three times the fun
Cuties Delvin, Axel Ulises and Axel have more than just their quizzical expressions in common. The trio are all part of Compassion’s Survival Program in El Salvador. The new baby gift their mothers received after their arrival contained all the practical supplies they needed but struggled to afford.
15. Childlike faith
With her eyes closed, hands clasped, and thoughts turned toward God, 8-year-old Alison feels at peace. Her beautiful perspective on prayer is inspiring. “I like to pray. When I close my eyes, I feel how God sees me and pays attention to what I’m saying,” says Alison, who lives in Guatemala. “In the moments of trouble, prayer brings peace to my heart and in the moments of gratitude, he brings joy.”
16. Genesis dances with joy
A year ago, this carefree moment of Genesis dancing at her Compassion center was almost unimaginable. At 1 year old, she suffered from anemia, parasites and chronic malnutrition that left her weak, thin and pale. Through timely treatment from Compassion’s partner in Peru, the little girl has been transformed into the joyful, active child you see today.
17. The simple joy of clean water
Water tastes better when you drink it straight from the tap. That’s what Jimmy thinks, anyway. For the 5-year-old in Ecuador, simply having access to running water is a joy. “Every time I am thirsty, I go to church to drink water because there is no clean drinking water in my house,” he says.
18. Kevin’s eggcellent explanation
“Chickens lay a ball. A ball that is called an egg,” says this 4-year-old in Bolivia. Thanks for the eggscellent explanation, Kevin!
19. Vitoria’s bright future
When poverty threatened to leach the color from Vitoria’s world, hope found through Compassion’s program restored it to full color. “I’m so happy,” says the 5-year-old in Brazil. “I’d like to paint my body with pink and a lot of other colors, just like my heart inside.”
20. A final message from Bolivia
Children are our future, and the future is in good hands.