“You are welcome here.”
With these beautiful words from the families whom Compassion serves, step into the homes of 25 children who live in poverty. Whether it’s a corner of a domed traditional home, a simple hammock, or a private space created by a curtain partition, each of these children’s rooms offers precious insight into their daily lives.
Look beyond what might appear like bleak or confronting surroundings. Many of these families do have stories of incredible heartbreak and loss, suffering and hardship. But these children’s rooms are still places of learning, dreaming, laughter and, ultimately, of hope.
Brothers Marcos Alexandre, 9, Marcos Winicius, 13, and Kauan, 6, share this room in northeastern Brazil, though occasionally one of them sprawls out at night in a hammock instead.
Baby Sathinee takes a peaceful snooze at home in northern Thailand. She’s been separated from her parents since the pandemic closed the Thai-Myanmar border, but continues to thrive in the loving care of her doting grandmother and Compassion’s Survival intervention.
Maindi, 8, and her family are part of the Rendille tribe, indigenous nomadic pastoralists. She lives in a traditional domed home built of animal hide, sticks, and dung in eastern Kenya. Workbook propped up on her knee, she completes her homework before the light fades.
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With Compassion’s support, she is enrolled in school — the only child out of her five siblings to attend.
His home has only one bedroom, so at night, 14-year-old Jao and his brother stretch out to sleep in hammocks in their living room in Brazil. “I know God is with me,” he says. “I can see him in the little things. Living in my situation helps me to see the world differently. It teaches me to value what I have and always makes me want to help people who are worse off.”
Little Jasper was born without arms in an impoverished rural community in the Philippines. On his bed, he demonstrates how he can use his toes to take selfies on his mother’s phone. He often says, “Don’t worry, Mama, I can do this.”
When mother Tigist fell sick and could no longer work, she worried that her daughter, Yeabsera, would end up on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. How could she pay the rent? Not only did Compassion’s local partner cover the costs, staff even provided them with this bed in the room they share. “Their help gave me a reason to thank God every day,” says Tigist, “because I can see God’s help through people.”
Ydania sweeps the floor of the bedroom she shares with her siblings in Cucúta, Colombia. Her family fled the spiraling economic crisis in neighboring Venezuela. As migrants, they arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs. In their new town, they are grateful for a safe place to sleep, even if it’s crowded.
In 2018, 16-year-old Benson’s home in Solai, Kenya, was engulfed by a wave of water from a collapsed dam. He lost all of his school uniforms, shoes and books. The Chelsea football (soccer) fan gave thanks to God that his home is still standing, and his family is safe.
Ana, 11, reads one of her sponsor’s letters on the bed she shares with her older sister each night in Fortaleza, Brazil. “When I read my sponsor’s letters, I feel so loved,” she says. “She makes me feel so special.”
The Philippines is among the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, yet studies often show its people are among the happiest in the world. This is true for 17-year-old Jearvee’s family, who live in a slum in Metro Manila. The family of seven shares a tiny two-room home, where living quarters double as a bedroom. But, as Jearvee says, “We are happy all the time. I have everything that I need: my loving parents, my younger brothers and sister, my school and my church.”
10-year-old Kalkidan proudly holds a photo of her sponsors in her new bedroom in Ethiopia. The clean, spacious room is vastly different from her previous home. The house she and her single mother rented doubled as a communal kitchen, where neighbors cooked at all hours. After seeing Kalkidan’s reality, her sponsors rented a safe, new home for the little family. Her smile says it all.
Sisters Yosaira and Ilsa learned how to pray at their Compassion center in the Dominican Republic and now do so every morning and night. The bed they share may look unusual, but there’s a good reason it’s elevated. The concrete blocks help keep their bed dry if the nearby river floods. They store precious letters from their sponsors under their mattress.
In Bangladesh, Shakib spends his days chasing the best internet connection at home so he can participate in his online classes while schools remain closed. He shares this room with his father and older brother.
Five-year-old Forgive draws a picture on her bed in Ghana. Orphaned at just 1 week old, Compassion’s church partner helped her grief-stricken grandmother to support the baby girl. Today, Forgive is healthy and thriving. “The good people in this church have kept her alive for me,” says her grandmother, Margaret. “God bless you and increase your work.”
Just meters from the sea, mother Jonalyn watches over her sleeping 5-month-old baby in Metro Manila. Their tiny home, built of flimsy materials, is vulnerable to the ferocious typhoons that batter the Philippines each year. “I’m worried every time, especially for my baby. I’m so happy that the church is here to help us.”
At 5 years old, María José could not walk or speak and could barely move. Born with cerebral palsy in Ecuador, the little girl was given a bleak prognosis by doctors. But with one-on-one attention from Compassion’s church partner, María José has flourished, building her strength and learning new words. Today, at 7 years old, doctors predict she will one day walk on her own.
Because of unemployment, Yves’ parents couldn’t afford a meal every day. When he was registered into Compassion’s program in Burkina Faso, he was diagnosed with acute malnutrition. His health has since turned around! The lively toddler now keeps his mother on her toes.
Klarisa’s family in North Maluku, Indonesia, loves color: Their bright home is painted like a rainbow. “My favorite thing about the program is that I get to study the Bible,” she says.
Sisters Yaretzi, 9, and Julieth, 8, and their grandparents were forced out of their home by gang members in Honduras. The family had no other option but to build a makeshift wooden house near the city dump. On hot, humid days, the smell of rotting garbage is overwhelming. One of the girls’ favorite places is the bed they share, where they read Bible stories with their grandma. “I want to become a teacher,” says Julieth, “and share the Word of God with children.”
Eight-year-old Sammy works on his homework at the home he shares with his mother in northeast Kenya. “I love to do my homework in my room because it is a peaceful space and no one disturbs me here,” he says.
Enán, 8, lives in the Peruvian jungle. Their home is typical of the houses in their community, made of wood with a woven-palm roof. Compassion’s church partner provided the family with iron roof sheets to protect them from the sudden tropical storms. “Sometimes, in places like our community, children do not have dreams or goals for their future,” says their father. “However, my children are encouraged at the center to make plans. They inspire them to dream to do great things.”
High above Eyerusalem and Absalat’s home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, vultures circle. They swoop upon the mountain of trash below. The twin toddlers live near the city dump. Their home is just 8 feet wide and 6 feet long, with much of the room taken up by the family’s bed. It’s worth it for the beautiful neighbors who live alongside them. The neighbors help mother Tiruwok by watching over the twins when she needs a helping hand.
Nadia’s oxygen tank crowds her bedroom in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, but the 12-year-old is very grateful for the equipment. Medical access in her village in scarce, but Compassion’s program ensures she receives the support she needs for her heart condition.
A little nervous, Violet reads her sponsor’s letters at home in Uganda before she meets them for the first time. When she saw their car pull up, all nerves were forgotten as she flung herself into their arms. “It was like we’d known each other ever since she was born and that we’d been apart for so long,” says her sponsor, Paul. “And I’ll never forget that moment.”
Elizabeth hugs her teddy in the home she shares with her grandparents in the Amazonas region in northern Peru. She describes the day she received the toy — at her first Compassion Christmas celebration — as “the happiest day of my life.” The little girl was abandoned by her parents but is being raised in a home full of love — love from her grandparents, love from her sponsors, and love from Compassion’s local church partner.