The children in Compassion’s sponsorship program face a lot of problems that are hard to imagine—things like abuse, pressure to drop out of school, and pressure to give up on their future.
There are some challenges that are especially a threat for boys.
Despite the great diversity in the daily lives of boys living in the 26 countries where we minister around the world, a few challenges are common across cultures. Many boys, seeing few alternatives, turn to gangs or join groups of friends on the streets. This often leads to drugs, alcohol, crime, fighting, gambling and even drug running. Even boys sponsored through Compassion often face great temptation to join a gang or join their friends in activities like drinking and stealing.
But through individual care, Compassion’s workers are able to support boys through the serious threats they face each day.
Role models and a new family
Many youth join gangs because they think they will finally belong somewhere—they’ll have a family.
Venye felt neglected by his parents who worked long hours. He was bored at home, so he decided to join his friends in a gang on the streets of Edilberto Ramos, Peru. But his tutor at the Compassion centre, Berta, found out about his nighttime activities. She reached out to him when he felt that no one else cared. When he was expelled from school for graffiti, she convinced the school to keep him.
Venye was ashamed that he had let Berta down—the only person who seemed to believe in him—and he decided to turn his life around. Now Venye has quit the gang and is excelling in school. He teaches math to youth at the Compassion centre and has won scholarships to learn computers and electrical skills. He plans to study engineering when he graduates from high school.
The tutors at Compassion’s centres are more than teachers. They are mentors to children and know each one individually. When they learn that something is going on in a child’s personal life, they do whatever they can to help get the child on the right track. Using life-planning tools, the tutors also mentor teenagers as they make important life decisions.
And at the church, children often find the family they have been lacking. For many youth, like Venye, just having someone who cares and is involved can make the difference between a life on the streets and becoming a responsible adult.
An alternative to the streets
Many boys become involved in drinking, gangs or crime because they just don’t see any other future for themselves. But Compassion centres offer alternatives through vocational training.
Each Compassion centre around the world offers youth a chance to learn vocational skills, either through courses taught at the centre or through vocational schools. Boys learn skills such as shoemaking, carpentry, baking and computers. Kevin is from a neighbourhood along abandoned train tracks in the capital of El Salvador, one of the most gang-ridden and violent cities in Central America.
Rather than joining thugs on the streets, Kevin learned how to bake bread at the centre. The centre sells the bread they make each week, and Kevin is able to save $5 every week from baking. Now, Kevin hopes to start his own bakery when he graduates.
Boys also find an alternative to the streets in the extra-curricular activities they take part in at the Compassion centre, such as sports. They learn respect, teamwork and discipline. Luis is a young boy from Honduras studying Tae Kwon Do through the Compassion centre twice a week.
“This discipline has kept me away from other things, which is good,” he says.
New values and the gospel of Christ
Compassion also helps boys avoid the pitfalls of the street by teaching Christian values. Many boys grow up without a father and are surrounded by negative influences. But at the Compassion centre, children learn values such as respect and hard work through age-appropriate curriculum.
Children also learn what the Bible has to say about things such as drinking and stealing. Francisco from Bolivia says that learning the Bible’s perspective on these is what helped him make good life choices. While some of his friends grew up to become alcoholics and criminals, he is happily married with four children and is a librarian.
But what makes the biggest difference in young people’s lives is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through Compassion, thousands of children and youth become Christ followers every year. They learn that they are a new creation in Christ, and the Holy Spirit begins to transform their lives and character.
Freddy from El Salvador grew up surrounded by violence, gangs and drugs. His brother and several close relatives chose the life of gangs. But Freddy learned about the new life he could have in Christ and gave his life to Him. Now Freddy is studying medicine in the university. But he wants to be a doctor of both the body and the soul—his heart is to not only help people physically, but to help them learn that there is life beyond gangs.
“I want to share with them that Jesus loves them, and that there are options,” he says.
Because of our sponsors, thousands of young men like Freddy are making choices to turn away from the traps of this world and instead choose a life of promise following Christ.
Help change a boy’s life by sponsoring with Compassion.
You can be a part of changing a boy’s life and helping him navigate the unique challenges he faces by sponsoring today.[sponsor-now gender=”boy”]