Advocate: a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Also known as a backer, a supporter, a spokesperson, a champion.
Child sponsorship often turns out to be much more than an updated photo and neatly penned letters throughout the year. It is about relationship. Advocacy. Championing.
The effects of advocacy are seen tangibly in the relationships being developed, the dreams being cultivated, and a God who orchestrates each note of the story.
Alicia came to live at a children’s home at 13.
“School was always a struggle for her,” explains Yadira Mendoza, the director of the children’s home Alicia lives in. “When she arrived at 13, she was just beginning elementary school; she had to learn how to read, how to write. It wasn’t an easy transition and as she moved into middle school, she continued to struggle.”
Alicia came to the home with a background which caused her pain. Struggling with school work and with believing in herself, as a result of previous mistreatment, Alicia took necessary steps to overcome the lies that she couldn’t be a successful student.
As she starts her final year of high school, Alicia has overcome many of the doubts she had in herself when first coming to the home. Tapping into the confidence the Lord instilled within her, Alicia has grown from the hard places, coming to realize she will not be defined by them, but by the God in whom she finds her confidence.
“Alicia has always found her confidence in God,” says Yadira. “We teach the children to remember if they need wisdom, they must ask God. Alicia lives her life within this belief.”
A big part of Alicia’s fight for more self-assurance in her life is a direct reflection of the relationship she continues to build with her sponsor Gary Reed.
“Having a sponsor has helped Alicia’s self-esteem tremendously,” says Yadira. “Feeling and knowing someone’s concern and love for her has helped Alicia focus on what she can do to make a better way for herself.”
Gary was intentional in his conversation with Alicia from the beginning of his sponsorship. Gary spoke to her about how he wanted to assist her, as her sponsor. Gary lovingly shared with Alicia what he hoped for her, too. This support was an important key in helping to motivate Alicia. Gary shared his hope for her to set an example to those around her – he reminded Alicia regularly to lead by example through her behavior and testimony.
With her sponsor’s words of encouragement in her mind, Alicia began serving in her church, teaching the younger children, and hopes to attend a Bible college after high school or go into social work. “Alicia feels very called into ministry,” explains Yadira.
With a loving environment to come home to and the support of sponsors who love and lead by example, Alicia looks forward to her tomorrows. She will not be held back by her yesterdays.