5 Helpers Caring for Kids Behind the Scenes

Every single time I go on a Compassion trip, there’s a moment where I disappear. Literally. While the rest of the group blows bubbles and colors with the children we are visiting, I sneak away. I wander from room to room at the child development center, looking for the helpers.

The helpers. That’s what Mr. Rogers — the American television personality, minister and creator of the preschool TV series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” — called them:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Those are the people my heart is drawn to. I hug the cook and thank her for lunch. I find a tutor and tell her how the sacrifices she makes are changing lives. I sit in an office crowded with folders and binders and tell the center director that his work is not in vain. And I shake hands with a pastor and thank him for showing each precious child the love of Jesus.

Will you wander with me to find the helpers?

Martha, Center Director, Ethiopia

A woman wearing a mask stands at a desk with soap and masks

Martha had only been a Compassion center director for five months when the pandemic struck. Yet she has found creative ways to serve the children in her care, including establishing a network of mothers’ groups she can easily check in with to see how the kids are doing. She and her staff have also distributed hundreds of face masks and activity books to the children.

“If not me, then who?” says Martha. “I’m responsible for the holistic growth of the children. I have a strong conviction that whatever I do for my own children, I should also do for the children who God has entrusted me with at the center.”

READ: What Does a Compassion Center Director Do?

Pastor Genaro, Frontline Church Partner Pastor, Honduras

Three people sit together, praying.

For almost 32 years, Pastor Genaro and his family have been ministering at the Light and Life Christian Center, located in an impoverished, rural community in western Honduras. And for 20 of those years, Pastor Genaro has partnered with Compassion. Long enough to see generations of children released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

“When the Compassion center was launched in our community 20 years ago, we started off with 150 beneficiaries, and our dream of rescuing and serving children came true,” says Pastor Genaro.

“Throughout the years, we have seen many generations thrive, and most of them have become church leaders who also pursued academic goals and got permanent jobs to support their families. We still have work to do, as we currently attend to more than 300 beneficiaries.”

Vanessa, Volunteer Tutor, Dominican Republic

A woman stands with a group of children hugging her

Vanessa learned about the Compassion center in her community when she was 16. Though she was never registered at the program herself, she began attending the church where the center operated, and felt so loved and accepted by both the children and the staff that she began volunteering as a tutor with Compassion when she was 18.

“I love to teach children and give them what God gave me; that is my greatest satisfaction. But I also learn so much from them. They taught me how to love and forgive for real.”

“Their love is the motor of my life,” says Vanessa.

Maton “Yaaba,” Center Cook, Burkina Faso

A woman sits in a kitchen cutting vegetables

All the children at the River of Love Compassion center call Maton “Yabba,” the local word for “grandmother.” The 67-year-old helper has been a cook in her community for decades, but never has she felt more loved and celebrated than when she began cooking for “her children” through Compassion. She rises at 5 a.m. each Friday to buy groceries for the center, and throughout the week she and her staff of three prepare two meals a day for the hundreds of registered children.

“The best part of my day is serving food to children,” says Chef Yabba, as she is affectionately known.

“I see their smile and enthusiasm when they eat at the center. I realize that there is a great positive change in the atmosphere after lunchtime. It really makes my day to see children coming and respectfully saying to me, smiling, ‘Barka Yaaba,’ meaning ‘thank you, grandma,’ after lunch or breakfast.”

Rizaura Lima, Center Janitor, Brazil

A woman is surrounded by children, hugging her.

Rizaura first learned about Compassion when she registered her youngest children at the center in her community. Soon she began volunteering to help clean at the church, and when a position opened to work as a paid employee, she was hired. But being a janitor is much more than mopping and sweeping. Every day she hugs each child as they walk through the door, reminding them just how much they are loved.

“My job is much more than cleaning up the center,” says Rizaura.

“I know most children don’t have anyone at home who holds them or who asks how their day was, so I want to do it for them. Some of them arrive here dirty, wearing the same clothes all week. When they come to me, I help them clean up and offer them clean clothes. Sometimes I make clothes for the children myself and keep them in the center so that those who are completely dirty can feel clean.”

In this time of COVID-19, even with many Compassion centers closed, these men and women still work tirelessly in their ministry. They are distributing grocery and hygiene kits, calling children and families, recording video lessons and praying for each child. What an honor it is to walk alongside them!

Reporting and photos by Tigist Gizachew, Yrahisa Mateo, Sara Navarro and Juana Ordonez

14 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Florence September 30, 2022

    Amazing work you are doing to impact the lives of the young ones.
    God’s blessings be with each one of you serving in his ministery.

  2. Johnny Vázquez Irizarry September 11, 2022

    Hola, soy Johnny Vázquez Irizarry de Lajas Puerto Rico, soy padrino de Yilder de Nicaragua, felicito a todos los ayudantes de Compasión, y es mi oración que la bendición del Señor Jesús sea sobre todos ellos.

    1. Grace September 12, 2022

      Saludos Jhonny! Muchas gracias por patrocinar a Yilder en Nicaragua. ¡Sé que su amor y apoyo significan el mundo para él! 💙

  3. Vickie Dovel November 23, 2021

    Please tell Ruth I love her and been praying for her and her family

    1. Nicole November 23, 2021

      Hi, Vickie! I love your heart and am so grateful that you are sponsoring precious Ruth! ? Even though our team and office are unable to directly share your love and prayers with Ruth, please know that you are able to write letters on your online account. These letters will be personally delivered to Ruth by our staff. ? You may send us an email at [email protected], if you have any questions about this or about writing physical letters. We are happy to help!

  4. Dan Willard September 21, 2021

    God bless you all for all your hard work!!!

    If not for you, the world’s light would be more dim.

  5. Diana McCown August 17, 2021

    Thank you all for your compassion work for these precious children ! may God really bless you all for your most important work to serve Christ In this way. Thank you thank you

  6. Arleen July 9, 2020

    Thank you Compassion pastors and leaders for watching out for the children’s needs during this difficult time

  7. Gail Singleton July 9, 2020

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories!! I am so thankful to be a part of this organization in any way possible. I pray God’s richest blessings on the children and all people who give and work to make this program possible. Love in Christ, Gail

  8. Nelson Gartor July 9, 2020

    I won’t be great full to the Lord Almighty God for your wonderful work of these children through organization.
    Made the blessings of the Lord Almighty God be with you all.

    My question: please went will you come to Liberia?

    Thanks pastor Nelson

    1. Sarah July 9, 2020

      Hi Pastor Nelson! Please email us at [email protected] to discuss your request. Thank you!

  9. Phyllis Smith July 8, 2020

    Precious children and their precious helpers indeed. Now my imagination can “see” a Compassion center and its workings more clearly.

  10. Mike Reiner July 8, 2020

    This is a inspiring article, Brandy! The time you took to affirm these community heroes also reflects your own servant heart–you are being a ‘helper’ in your own role of telling the story of Compassion. I also want to thank Tigist, Yrahisa, Sara, and Juana for their contributions to this article. I love the photo of Chef Yabba–her joy is so evident! When I visited several centers in Uganda and Kenya, I also enjoyed spending time with the many ‘helpers’ in the centers. One of my favorite memories is the time I spent with the band leader in Katuuso. We sat in the grass with many of the older teens and they introduced me to jackfruit! Encouraging the staff at the centers is so important because their impact on the children is so powerful. Thank you for sharing this encouraging story!

  11. Nadja Vilela Leão July 8, 2020

    Cada vez que recebo noticias da compassivo, meu coração se alegra pelo fato de ver como Deus tem aberto as portas para esse ministério, e como vidas tem sido abençoadas. Parabéns! Deus continue abençoando a todos os envolvidos nesta obra. Um grande abraço fraterno a todas.

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