Sponsored girl empowered to create change in her community

She’s only 12, but Wendy has already made a lasting impact in her community in Honduras. Her sponsorship through World Vision provides physical, emotional, and spiritual nurture, giving her the freedom and encouragement to stay in school and participate in activities that serve others.

Story and photos by Abby Stalsbroten, World Vision U.S.
Published June 3, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

In the dry highlands of rural western Honduras, cotton-ball clouds roll across the midday sky above a school, where hundreds of children participate in a community assembly.

It’s World Vision’s annual Day of Prayer, and local staff members have invited area families and children to a day of singing, prayers, games, and food.

In attendance is a confident girl with bright eyes and long, dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. Wendy Vanessa Gutiemez Lorenzo, 12, takes her place on the stage with other children in a choir, and together, they sing songs, accompanied by a keyboard and a few adult vocalists.

Then, Wendy and two friends take the microphone. Together, they sing another song, leading the entire assembly.

Sponsorship: The foundation of stability

Wendy is the third of six children. She and three of her siblings are sponsored through World Vision, which helps provide them and their community with nutritious food, a safe place to live, a good education, and regular health checkups. Those are some of the tangible benefits.

But the value of sponsorship goes beyond the physical. It also creates opportunities for children like Wendy to thrive and become leaders in their communities. World Vision supports different scholastic, religious, and service clubs through Wendy’s school and church. She participates in no fewer than six of these.

“I like to participate,” says Wendy, who earns excellent grades and helps care for her family. “I like to learn new things.”

A young community leader

In addition to the service she performs for her community, Wendy also offers companionship and help with chores to her grandmother, Constantina, with whom she's pictured here.She’s part of the student council, which gives her the opportunity to speak to the whole community on behalf of her school. Recently, the council’s proposal to renovate the school’s basketball court was approved by the mayor. Today, Day of Prayer attendees mill about on the shiny new court, chatting and eating lunch together. Wendy is also part of the school’s emergency committee, which teaches about disaster preparedness and risk management.

Another group in which she is actively involved leads community clean-up efforts. Children from the school, supervised by a teacher, visit different homes and check to see that families are living in healthy environments — that they aren’t burning garbage, that they boil water before drinking it, and that they have good sanitation and hygiene.

Wendy spends much of her time at school, developing her relationships there. “The teacher gives us a lot of support,” she says. “That way, it will be easier for us to learn.”

Helping her peers

Excellence in her studies has led Wendy to become a child tutor for younger students. She has two pupils, one in first grade and one in second, whom she instructs for an hour every day after school. She is proud to announce that both her students passed their grades this year.

This child tutor program is run by World Vision and is in place in 80 percent of the communities where we work in Honduras. Thanks to the programs, some 3,698 children have improved their grades to date.

Wendy loves to read. She’s also part of a children’s Bible study that meets weekly. The group prays together, and members take turns hosting. “It makes me feel good,” says Wendy, “and at the same time, be more committed to my community because I need to support them.”

Positive change for a family and community

Wendy (back row, second from left) is pictured here with her family at her grandmother's house.Sandra, Wendy’s mom, says that joy filled her heart when World Vision moved into their community five years ago and registered four of her children for sponsorship. “I was happy because I knew we were going to receive some help,” she says.

Wendy’s father, Nery Gutiemez Bautista, confirms that that’s exactly what happened. “Today, my children are studying,” he says. “In the future, I hope they become professionals and continue receiving support from World Vision. They will be able to take care of themselves when [my wife and I] get older. Thank you for the support.”

His vision has a good chance to become reality. Wendy says that she’d like to earn her bachelor’s degree after finishing high school. Like many 12-year-olds, she’s not sure what she would like to be when she grows up, but she has a few ideas — maybe a nurse or a teacher.

Whatever career path she chooses, she’s sure of one thing: “I want to be a professional,” she says assuredly.

Learn more

Read “Confessions of a Child Sponsorship Skeptic,” a World Vision magazine article by Rachel Held Evans, who traveled to Bolivia with World Vision on our blogger trip last August and witnessed firsthand the impacts of our sponsorship programs.

Three ways you can help

Thank God for instilling in Wendy a set of talents and passions that she has already used to serve others and develop dreams for herself, and praise Him for the generosity of sponsors whose support of children like Wendy makes these stories possible.

Sponsor a child in Honduras today. Sponsorship provides more than just physical support for a child, family, and community — it also offers spiritual nurture and the empowerment to serve others and create positive, lasting change.

Make a one-time donation to our Sponsorship Ministry Fund. This fund helps provide support to children who are still waiting to be sponsored. It also helps World Vision respond to disasters that take place in sponsorship communities.