Sponsorship lifts family from despair

Juan, a sponsored child in Bolivia who does well at school and is active in his community, comes from a family that used to struggle deeply with poverty and domestic abuse. But World Vision's assistance has given them a second chance.

By Andrea Rodriguez, World Vision Bolivia. Edited by Peter Warski, World Vision U.S.
Published April 2, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

Juan Cala Mami, 11, is a sponsored child who lives in a Bolivian mining camp with his father and mother, Armando, 32, and Rosmery, 33, and three siblings. The family's home is in a mountainous area that sits above 12,000 feet in elevation.

Every day, Juan goes to school, where he's a well-known student because he has been very supportive with his friends. World Vision's support provided a library at the school with an interactive blackboard for Juan and his friends to use.

A history of struggles

Though life at school is good for Juan, life at home has been challenging in the past.

Armando, Juan's father, is skinny, with red and sunken eyes that show uncertainty and concern while he talks about his past life and job. Being a miner is a dangerous job, security conditions are precarious, and the pay is low.

"Working in the mine is the worst," says Armando. "I have worked here since I was 13, because my dad was a miner, too. Now, I think after 20 years, there is no more future for me."

But he also thinks about his children's future. "I hope that the miner job will end in my generation and my children will get a career," he adds.

A broken home life redeemed

Juan stands in front of the mining mills where his father works. Photo: ©2010 Andrea Rodriguez/World Vision

Before World Vision came alongside the family, there was violence in Juan's house. Armando would drink heavily and beat his wife and sons.

However, training the family received through World Vision's sponsorship program has helped this father reform his ways. He quit drinking and is no longer violent. The family now attends church together.

Though circumstances have improved, Juan remembers the old days. One night, as the family slept, he heard his dad crying because he was not able to find minerals in the mine; therefore, he did not have money for food.

Thanks to World Vision's support, such struggles are now just memories. Juan's parents are active members in World Vision's development program, and they promote change in their community.

'The happiest moment I have ever had...'

And as a sponsored child, Juan receives at least two health checkups every year. He also belongs to a local network where children learn about topics such as child rights, communication, leadership, justice, health, Christian values, and more. He shares everything he learns with his siblings and friends.

Juan participates in a lesson at school. Photo: ©2010 Andrea Rodriguez/World Vision

"The happiest moment I have ever had in my life was when I got the opportunity to make a video with [World Vision's development program], and I was acting in it!" Juan says excitedly.

Making the video improved his self-esteem and provided him with confidence to speak his mind assertively.

The support Juan receives from his sponsor has helped him and his family to change their situation. The benefits go far beyond freedom from extreme poverty — they also include a chance to be actively involved with community growth, while receiving spiritual support that has made for a healthier life at home.

And that's a vast improvement from where this family once stood.

Two ways you can help

Thank God that Juan and his family have had the opportunity to improve their lives and take on an active role in their community. Pray for the continued growth of this family, their neighbors, and their friends as sponsorship continues to bring change to a once-struggling area.

Sponsor a child in Bolivia. Your love and support for a boy or girl will help provide life-changing assistance like healthy food, clean water, medical care, education, spiritual nurture, and more.