The impact of sponsors’ generosity on children multiplies far beyond their childhood years. Compassion centers at local churches offer them safe spaces to discover and lessons on how to steward their God-given talents.
Access to resources and exposure to various activities, coupled with vocational and financial training, allow children to dream big — beyond their circumstances. Compassion is devoted to cultivating and developing this next generation of leaders.
Check out these incredible stories of talented young entrepreneurs!
Faida, Guitar Teacher
Compassion alumnus Faida, 28, discovered his musical talent at a Compassion center in Rwanda at only 10 years old. He never missed a lesson. After graduating from university with a degree in civil engineering and purchasing his own guitar, he deeply desired to give back to children. Today, he runs his own online music school, where he has taught over 200 kids to play guitar.
“Whenever I remember that Compassion helped to boost my talent in playing guitar, I get full of emotion, and I believe that it was God’s plan for me.”Faida
Miriam and Maureen, Business Owners
Twins Miriam and Maureen witnessed their factory-working mother laboring long hours but still struggling to put them through school, feed them and pay rent. This inspired them to seek a different future. Today, they are realizing their childhood dream of owning their own business in Tanzania. Maureen explains, “The [Compassion] center gave us capital for our salon business, and they also put us through entrepreneurial skill training.” They now manage their own successful beauty salon and plan to open a men’s clothing boutique.
Bright and driven Theophile discovered his talent of shoemaking at his Compassion center in Togo. The teenager is both top of his academic class and enjoys managing his small shoemaking business in his free time. In his language, he is known as a “toto,” or “fast learner.” He jumps to partake in every opportunity offered at the center, but he chose to run with this one.
In Rwanda, university education is often too expensive for youth to attend. Knowing this, Sebastian’s Compassion center teaches vocational skills classes. Wanting to prove that boys could weave too, although it’s commonly done by girls, Sebastian chose bag weaving. He now uses the skills he learned to train his peers, earning him a monthly income. He also taught his mother to weave and sell her creations, further improving their family’s living conditions.
One of Compassion’s local church partners in Colombia opened up a nationally accredited beauty school. Sandy graduated from the salon program, which launched her into a long-term career of painting nails and styling hair.
Rayane and Rhaldney, Photographers
A Compassion center in Brazil launched a program called Criativa (“Creative”) to give new dreams to youth threatened by lack of opportunities.
Rayane photographs her community. She shares:
“Here there is much history of struggle, determination and resistance. I like to record these people, to show what is beautiful among our alleys. Despite the bad things we see here, it was the fact that I was born here that made me who I am today. It was what made me strong to fight for my dreams.”
Rhaldney, another student, explains that photography changed his life. He says, “It’s through the lens of the cameras that I express my perceptions in the world. I have friends from the community who chose the wrong paths, but I’m grateful to the project [Compassion center] for helping me to take a different path. Today I study advertising and marketing, and even though there are difficult days, I know that God has helped me in my struggles.”
When Piyeston expressed his interest in cooking, the staff at his Compassion center in Sri Lanka organized a cooking program with Dilmah, a famous brand of Sri Lankan tea. All the youth were shown what a chef’s career looked like and given the next steps to take if this was a job that interested them. “I didn’t know that ‘chef’ was a job title,” says Piyeston, smiling. “I had never even heard of the word. But cooking was something that I love to do, and this program taught me so much.”
One of Compassion’s church partners in Honduras organized a public fair where students could sell their creations to their communities. Sandra, 17, says, “Painting is my passion, and I discovered it through the vocational training I got at the Compassion center.”
International reporting and photography of young entrepreneurs by Christian Abayisenga, Odessa B, Eric D. Lema, Helen Manson, Juana Ordonez Martinez, Sara Navarro, Gabriella Akpene Samaty, Doreen Umutesi
About the Author: Ava Bruns recently graduated from Clemson University with a communication major and brand communication minor. She is currently a Marketing Specialist intern at Compassion. A love for the Lord, a heart for people, a passion for creating and an adventurous spirit collide to make her the person she is today.