Noemi was only one-year-old when her father passed away in an accident. She was only nine years old when her mother died of an unknown illness.
Noemi is the sixth of seven siblings in the Alanoca family in Tilata, Bolivia. After their mother died two years ago, their extended family abused and abandoned them. Their aunts and uncles blamed the children for their mother’s death, yelling at them and even throwing rocks at them. Since then, the two oldest of the siblings, Rosmery, 24, and Abigail, 19, have become the caregivers for the rest of their family.
Because they couldn’t count on their family, not even for moral support, the Alanoca siblings started to rely on God.
“Maybe if I hadn’t been a Christian, I would have left my siblings and gone away, probably started drinking, but God rescued me,” says Rosmery. “He gave me strength. He sent people from the church, from the Compassion centre for us. God is big.”
Three of the Alanoca children are registered in Compassion’s sponsorship program. Because of their unique situation, the children are considered highly vulnerable and receive extra support each month in the form of a food basket. This month, they received eggs, oil, rice and sugar.
“The church is now a family; they give us moral support, they talk with us and I’m thankful to the Lord for them,” says Rosmery.
To be rejected by their own family but receive such support from people she didn’t have any relationship with meant a lot to Rosmery and all her siblings. This support has inspired her to dream of one day helping others, too.
“Someday I will have more. Now I’m young and I’m not going to stay this way,” says Rosmery. “When I have more, I will help people who have gone through the same things we did.”
Abigail, the second oldest sibling, is like the children’s second mother. The support from the church has helped her bear the burden of being a caretaker of five children at age 19. “Despite our family having left us, the Compassion centre is like our family because they have always been looking after us, following step by step how we are doing and what we are doing. We can feel their care; they have been there,” says Abigail.
Noemi loves going to the Compassion centre.
“What I like the most of going to the centre is learning about Jesus,” says Noemi. “They help me with my homework, they explain to us what we don’t understand. We learn Bible verses, not to be mean, to be clean, that we have to be good children and not to say bad things.”
Rosmery believes the values and biblical principles the children are learning at the centre is what they need to be spiritually strong amidst their difficult circumstances.
The Alanoca family still worries—how will they make it if their small home collapses, or what will they do when it floods on rainy days? But they live in peace because they know they can count on the church. They are certain of God’s promise from Hosea 14:3: “In him the orphan finds mercy.”
Story by Galia Oropeza, Compassion Bolivia