Sometimes, endings are just the beginning of a new adventure!
This June, graduates across Canada are tossing caps into the air in honour of their achievements, endurance and dreams! While for some, it can be bittersweet to leave behind friends and memories, graduation isn’t something to fear. It signals that the preparation is done, and it’s time to begin a new exciting journey!
For Compassion, most children graduate from our program between the ages of 18—22, depending on the region and their specific school or vocational choices. This means that graduating from school and the Compassion program often happen together—it’s a double celebration!
We’re so proud of all our graduates! We want to introduce you to five of them, highlight their achievements and let them tell you in their own words what the support of Compassion has meant to them.
Country: Dominican Republic
Dream: To be a Physical Education teacher
Most likely to: Inspire others
Do you know a kid who can’t sit still and seems to have more energy than they know what to do with? That’s Bedarlin! From a young age, she loved running and being active but didn’t have the means to participate in organized sports. She lived in a home that leaked and flooded when it rained, and their family often lacked food.
When she was eight, Bedarlin was enrolled in the local Compassion program. That’s when her curiosity about the world and love for physical activity took off running! Her mentors encouraged her to work hard at her studies and excel in her beloved sports pressing through immense life challenges like her father’s death. Her centre selected her to receive scholarships, and she was even recognized by her nation’s president for her scholastic achievements.
After high school, she enrolled in computer tech and English classes, successfully completing the challenging course. With this education, she was able to secure employment as a computer instructor, helping her to fund education for her dream career of being a physical education teacher. Now on her way to becoming a teacher and supporting herself, we know Bedarlin has a bright future and will inspire other youth to play hard and dream big!
Quote: “The Compassion centre has been an immense blessing, a gift from God. Without the centre, I would not have overcome all the hardships I have faced. Because of what I have learned here, I know I will have a better future.”
Dream: To buy a house for his mom
Most likely to: Be his own boss
Angel has been part of the Compassion program since he was three years old. He was raised by his mom, who worked whatever job she could but struggled to provide. When Angel had an idea for a small business delivering grains and animal feed, a new Compassion centre initiative gave him start-up money and offered him an intensive business training course. He persevered to work and finish high school, and with the help of the Compassion staff, explored options that would allow him to make a good income. Now graduating from the Compassion program, Angel has a thriving small business and hopes to continue his business education in the future.
Quote: “My tutor at the centre was so fun and taught me good values. I felt cared for. When I finished high school, I didn’t have any clarity. I didn’t know what I wanted to study, the future was uncertain and I was full of doubts. There were times I felt defeated, like I couldn’t keep up with school and work at the same time. Isaiah 41:10 reminds me not to be afraid and that God is with me and will help and strengthen me. I’m still here, pressing on. I thank my sponsor for always thinking of me, for all the letters and gifts, for praying for me and being there.”
Dream: To operate a free or low-cost travelling physiotherapy clinic
Most likely to: Perform on stage
Genesis is a young woman with many passions who faces her graduation from Compassion with hope and excitement. Even though she will miss regular letters from her sponsor, she knows she has all she needs to pursue a bright future. As a child, Genesis was always drawn to music and instruments, but it was the Compassion program that allowed her to grow in her skill. As part of several performing groups, she even won a national contest for Marimba music! But Genesis knew that wasn’t ultimately what she needed to do.
Curious about how medicine and physical therapy could help people, she applied to a top school in Mexico. Because of her outstanding grades, she has begun studying on a full scholarship! She plans to serve her community in medicine and continue to play the music she loves. As she faces life beyond the Compassion program, she looks back with nostalgia at a place that shaped who she is today in every area of her life.
We know you’ll go on to change lives, Genesis!
Quote: “I don’t think I would be the woman I am today if I hadn’t been in the program. Thanks to the centre, my parents now have a business of their own, the seed of God’s Word was sown in my heart and I developed my passion for music. My sponsor has always encouraged me in my studies and music; she also plays the piano, so music is a passion we share.”
Dream: For his tech start-up to be known around the world
Most likely to: Be successful
Karisse is the youngest of four children and grew up in a family where resources were stretched thin. As a child, he believed he was worthless and had no dreams for his life. That all changed when he was enrolled in a Compassion centre in his neighbourhood.
At the centre, he found he was more capable than he ever imagined! With a growing passion for computer science and business, he made a plan to take a different route upon graduation. Along with 10 other soon-to-be Compassion graduates, he created a plan for a company that would serve their community, providing services in graphic design, web design, tech maintenance and affordable computer education to youth. Compassion provided start-up costs, and the team selected Karisse as their CEO.
As his business grows, he plans to help Compassion centres all over his region bring practical technology skills to the youth who need them most. Today, as Karisse graduates, he is a confident, skilled communicator and a leader with a plan. We’re proud of all you’ve already accomplished, Karisse!
Quote: “Compassion helped me a lot. I was withdrawn and needed affection, but I changed when I enrolled in the program. The centre staff always cared about me; they were interested in my life. Because of Compassion, I want to instill computer science in every youth because today, the world revolves around digital skills. I take it as my responsibility to enable youth to be a part of the digital world.”
Dream: To give kids in her neighbourhood hope
Most likely to: Overcome any obstacle
Jojin is a remarkable young woman who has overcome more challenges than most. She was born to a woman working as a prostitute who didn’t have the resources to care for herself or a child. A woman named Carmelita befriended Jojin’s mother and offered to adopt the child to provide her with a home and security off the streets. Carmelita raised Jojin to be a cheerful, compassionate leader in her community.
Even though Carmelita’s only income was selling peanuts on the street, she gave all she could to Jojin and gratefully enrolled her in the local Compassion program. At the centre, Jojin fell in love with teaching. Before she was even in high school, the centre staff saw her incredible potential with kids and asked her to assist in teaching the youngest classes. Sadly, Carmelita developed cancer and died before Jojin was able to finish school.
Today Jojin is studying hard and working part-time at her local church to put herself through school. Now that she is graduating from the Compassion program, she is independent and she feels as though she has made her adoptive mom proud. She knows she can face anything with help from God and her community.
Quote: “I want to teach little children in poverty and give them hope because I experienced firsthand how to hold on to hope even in the direst of circumstances. The church and the Compassion centre became my second family; they stood by my side when mom struggled with her health. I now focus on finishing school because that was the hope of my adopted mom for me. I still lack some things, but I know I am free from poverty, and I have hope in Jesus Christ.”
Like these graduates, every Compassion participant has the opportunity to plan for their future with caring mentors who will help guide them, connect them to opportunities and equip them for a life of independence. The lessons taught at the centre and through relationships with sponsors are not forgotten; graduation is the time to put them into action! And just like these graduates demonstrate, a life of giving back to their community has just begun, and they will always be a part of the Compassion community.
This June, join us in celebrating the challenging work students worldwide put into their studies, the obstacles they have overcome to realize success, and all that lies ahead for them as they begin a new chapter of their life!
Compassion can change lives through education!
Did you know older children close to graduation need sponsors, too? Late-stage sponsorship allows youth to complete their school and receive encouragement from a sponsor like you.
With Yrahisa E. Mateo Solano (Compassion Dominican Republic), Fernando Sinacay (Compassion Peru), Akpene Gabriella Samaty (Compassion Togo), Daniela Valasco (Compassion Mexico) and Edwin Estioko (Compassion Philippines)