One of the goals of our Child Sponsorship Program (CDSP) is to make sure each child grows and develops well from early childhood through youth. It strives to empower them to finish well by reaching specific outcomes.
Such outcomes include having the motivation and skills to be economically self‐supporting. The program aims for each child to become employable and productive before exiting the CDSP.
Children like Sarah Mae and Rizza Mae. Who aren’t really children anymore…
If Sarah had remained the shy and introverted little girl that she was, she would not have made it through three years of harsh academic competition at the University of the Philippines, the primary learning institution in the country.
Sarah Mae Galvez, 20 years old, is enrolled in CDSP. She was born and raised in the tiny community of Malued in the province of Pangasinan, Philippines. Sarah was registered at Malued Baptist Student Center at age 5. It was at the student center where she learned how to mingle with people, study well and develop self-confidence.
“When I was little I was very shy,” Sarah confessed. “You wouldn’t hear or notice me. I was the quiet sponsored child in the corner when everybody else was noisily playing or singing. But the experiences I gained as a sponsored child were God’s way of preparing me to take the path on which He wanted me to go.”
As a teenager, the young introvert began to open up and soon held leadership roles in her youth group.
“I was trained to be a leader at church, and that developed my confidence,” Sarah added. “Back then, that was very helpful to me as a student, because it taught me how to act in class and how to lead my fellow classmates.”
But there’s one more skill Sarah learned at the student center: letter writing.
Each and every child was scheduled to write at least three letters a year to their sponsor. The children were also told to write back whenever they received a letter from their sponsor. Younger children typically asked for help from their parents to write the letters, but not Sarah. Sarah’s love for writing grew through the years.
“I wrote my sponsors regularly and in English, too,” she said. “Soon, writing became so natural to me, as though I was just talking to my sponsors face-to-face.”
After high school, Sarah left her family, close friends, church and tiny hometown – her comfort zone – for the big city, the capital city of Manila, to attend the state university and pursue her dream to become a well-known news writer.
When children in the program move, they are transferred to another student center in the area. Sarah was transferred to Lifestream Ministries in metro Manila, not far from the University of the Philippines.
“It was a culture shock both at the new center and in this very huge university,” Sarah admitted.
She was happy that she had already developed self-confidence before making such a major adjustment in her life.
Today, Sarah is a third-year student studying for a bachelor’s degree in journalism. The country’s best writers, journalists and reporters studied at the same university.
“I am ready to be at my best,” Sarah said. “I now have self-confidence and have been trained to be a leader, thanks to Compassion and my sponsors.”
Rizza Mae Mactal, 19 years old, is studying to become a civil engineer at the University of Manila.
“When I was young, I was curious about how things were done and how houses were made,” Rizza said, explaining that her curiosity was encouraged in the student center.
At age 5, Rizza was registered in CDSP at Lifestream Ministries and quickly gained friends. She and five other young girls formed a special bond. For weeks, months and years, they spent their Saturdays and Sundays together playing, singing, dancing and studying at the student center.
After a few years of attending the center together, Rizza noticed a change in her friends.
“Little by little, I noticed that my buddies were not coming (to the center) anymore,” Rizza confessed. “It seems they had gotten so used to the student center that they lost interest.”
“I didn’t stop coming to the center, because I feel God has a purpose for me to be here. I have learned to persevere, and now I know why the Lord taught me to be persevering,” Rizza said.
In December 2013, Rizza’s mother suffered from a stroke. Rizza and her sisters were devastated, as their mother had to have an operation, only to suffer from an aneurysm just three days after the surgery.
Today, she is bedridden, unable to speak and has to be cared for 24/7. Rizza’s father is unemployed. He earns little from doing carpentry work and selling salvaged pieces of junk and scraps of metal. Rizza’s eldest sister and relatives help out by providing for the family and buying their mother’s medicines.
“Whatever trials come my way, I know I have a purpose in life,” said Rizza, “and that it is the most important thing I learned at Lifestream.”
Next year, Rizza will graduate from university and hopes to find a job as an engineer. She understands that she needs to pass the board exam for engineers first before becoming a professional.
“I have spent practically my entire life with Compassion, and next year I will graduate,” Rizza added. “I am thankful for what I have gone through, and now I feel I am ready to face the world with God’s help.”
As Sarah Mae and Rizza Mae are about to exit from CDSP, they both feel ready to face the world, having learned valuable lessons and skills from the program. They are breaking the cycle of poverty in their lives.