Over 100 children sit on the floor of their newly constructed church. Their mothers sit in plastic chairs around the edge of the room while young boys peer in through the windows and doorway. The heat of the Guatemalan summer sits heavy in the church as I look over the faces of everyone who has come to see us and to learn about Jesus.
A few years ago, the village of El Jurgallon would never have allowed visitors like us to enter. Before, there were endless stories of violence, abuse, and brokenness that filled the homes of this village. However, after community development projects and initiatives, El Jurgallon has been transformed into a village of love and community growth.
Through partnering with World Help, my church has constructed a school, church, and homes for the village of El Jurgallon. Water wells and fruit trees were also placed throughout the village to aid the local families, and a pastor was equipped and sent out to connect with the people of El Jurgallon. Through his work, many people have come to know and follow Jesus.
Village Transformation projects like this one give hope and aid to communities that were once broken and hurting. Communities receive clean water sources, schools, churches, homes, and most importantly, the love of Christ.
My favorite part of being involved in Village Transformation is being able to meet the people we are helping — the men, women, and especially the children.
Meeting my sponsored child
The first time I visited our church’s village, I remember walking through the streets, watching the people of Guatemala and the people from my church hug and laugh together. As I stood in awe of the trust being built between these two cultures, I felt a little hand slide into mine.
Mileydi was only 2 years old when I met her, and her friend, Delmy, was 7. As I looked down at them, I noticed dirt clinging to their ankles and the discoloration of their hair caused by a lack of nutrition. But what truly stood out to me were their smiles.
The rest of the week, I spent every day interacting with Delmy and Mileydi, even though we didn’t speak the same language. By the end of the trip, I felt a special bond with these little girls, and my heart broke over the poverty that existed in their lives. When I returned home, there was no doubt about it — my family would sponsor both of them.
I think often of Mileydi, Delmy, and the rest of the children at El Jurgallon. I wonder what they are doing, how much they are growing, and if they are studying hard at school.
Thankfully, I receive answers to my questions through updates World Help sends every few months. These updates are filled with notes from my girls and pictures of them growing, making the letters the highlight of my year.
Recently, I had the opportunity to return to Guatemala to visit the children of El Jurgallon and see firsthand how sponsorship has affected their lives. Many of the young boys of the village used to be forced to drop out of school in order to find work and provide for their families.
Through the help of sponsorship, families are now able to keep their boys in school so they can learn.
Mileydi and Delmy still smile and laugh with me whenever I come to see them. They have grown taller as a result of access to more nutritious foods, and they are learning to read and write in their classes at school.
Mileydi has developed into a fun-loving young girl who loves to play jokes on us, while Delmy has matured into a young woman who looks out for the children around her.
Sponsorship impacts not only the children’s lives, but the lives of their parents, also. Many times, I have been able to speak with Delmy and Mileydi’s parents, and we have been able to share beautiful moments of vulnerability and openness together.
In these moments, Mileydi’s father has shared his hopes for his four children, and his gratitude to World Help for giving his children the opportunity to thrive. By sponsoring and enabling a child to do his or her best in school, an entire family and community are impacted.
My curiosity about World Help grew each time I visited Guatemala. I wanted to learn more and get more involved.
This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to do just that by interning with World Help and spending time writing biographies for children in need of a sponsor. Learning about the different programs all around the world has shown me even more how much a sponsor can transform a child’s life for just $35 a month.
And I love being a part of giving back to those sponsors by writing updates about their sponsored children. I can just imagine the joy they experience from opening a letter about their sponsored child.
Sponsoring two little girls from Guatemala has changed the way I see life.
As Christ-followers, we are called to love God and love others. I believe that we love God through loving others, and child sponsorship gives us the opportunity to do just that.
Even if you are unable to travel to visit your sponsored child, receiving a letter or picture from you provides him or her with an abundance of happiness. Knowing that someone cares about them and wants them to succeed is an invaluable gift for children around the world, and one that you can provide today.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to sponsor a child yet, there are many children like Delmy and Mileydi who still need help to escape poverty.
Find a child to sponsor today, and join other child sponsors across the country in sending help and the hope throughout all the nations of the world.
Kayla Hoster is a summer intern at World Help. She has also been involved in Village Transformation through her church, and her family currently sponsors two children. If you are interested in volunteering or interning with World Help like Kayla, please click here.