Family. Don't you just love it?
There's nothing like spending time with those who love you unconditionally and know you inside out.
And when it comes to family photo time, there's something universal about the beautiful chaos that ensues. Kids having tantrums and pulling silly faces, family members losing patience and wandering off, mum insisting you try just once more to capture that perfect shot.
Here are 15 portraits of families in the developing world who we have the privilege to know and support. We hope these beautiful photos make you think, bring a smile and give you a few moments to reflect on your own family. Enjoy.
Aklobessi's family portrait is particularly special. It tells a story of reunion and restoration. Two years ago Aklobessi (second right) was forcibly taken by the local priestess to live at the voodoo temple. Aklobessi's Compassion project director, Fernand, took immediate action. He mobilised the social services governor of the region in Togo, his church and Compassion's 11 other partner churches in the region. Fernand didn't stop until Aklobessi was returned home to her parents. “I am so happy to see my friends and have fun with them again,” she says.
Angel may be looking brilliantly grumpy, but this photo speaks of hope. The Gracia-Muñoz family lost everything in the 2016 Ecuador earthquake. Their wooden home was completely destroyed and they were left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. 6-year-old Dastin is registered at the local Compassion project who were quick to respond. "Thanks to you, my children and I have a place to sleep,” says dad Miguel, almost in tears.
This is Martha's family. Even after many attempts, not everyone is looking at the camera in this shot! Martha is a courageous mum who lost her leg in a motorbike accident when she was five. "My family's biggest challenge is that we have very little money," she says. "I'm really thankful for the support I've received from Compassion and the church. I have received so many helpful benefits."
In Togo, super mum Monica lines up her youngest family members for a photo. "Do I want any more children," she reflects. "No, ten is enough."
Older siblings are disrupting the peace in Victoria and Corcino's family! But behind the funny faces is a powerful story of the local church at work. Corcino used to be a drug addict and Victoria struggled to care for the family on her own. "If it hadn’t been for the programme, I wouldn’t have gotten close to the Lord," explains Corcino. "I was destroyed and on my way to the abyss. They gave me a hand and helped me see things clearly."
This is a portrait of love where even the dog is welcome. When Ndumu's mother passed away, her aunt and uncle embraced her into their own family. “I may not know my earthly father, but I am comforted by the fact that I know my Father in heaven,” Ndumu says. “I also have a father figure in my uncle. My uncle inspires me to be a better person in life so that I can also one day become a blessing. I'm no longer an orphan."
Bruno’s mum is 23 and is raising her children on her own. When he's older, Bruno wants to be a "doctor of kids". He loves practising by caring for his new baby sister.
The story behind this portrait is awe inspiring. Just hours old, Davni was abandoned in a cardboard box next to the river. Thankfully she was discovered and Nevla has sacrificially raised this beautiful young girl as her own. “My favourite [Bible] story is the one about Moses because it talks about being rescued from the river,” says the bright 11-year-old. “He was saved from the river like me. He grew up and did many great things. Now I want to become a doctor so I can save others who are in danger.”
It's a large family affair in Sri Lanka. Dad Shanthra leads the posing alongside his wife, children, sisters, nieces and nephews.
In Mexico, you can sense the family pride. 12-year-old Hector is an artist. His grandma has raised him alone and is so thankful for the Compassion project where Hector discovered his talent. “Colours come to my mind in waves. They fill my sight and overflow my senses. I am not okay until I let them out … they only come out through my paintings,” explains Hector.
"I don’t have a specific moment that I say that this is my proudest moment as a mum," says Houtagni. "Just to see Akofa happy and reading the Bible and getting good grades makes me proud."
Tiago has a large family. All seven siblings sleep together on one mattress on the floor. Tiago may be shy, but thanks to the activities at his project, he's growing in confidence. “When I grow up, I want to be brave as Samson," he explains proudly.
In Burkina Faso, 10-year-old Seuba and 13-year-old Aura pose with their parents and siblings.
Thanks to his son's courage, dad Joey isn't the man he used to be. “I was very, very bad man,” Joey explains. “They used to call me ‘king’ in our neighbourhood, since I was indeed the king of bad news. If someone needed drugs, to hurt someone or [needed] protection, they came to me.” One day, Hurley took his father by the hand, and led him all the way to the Assemblies of God Church where his Compassion project is based. Hurley introduced his dad to the church leaders who came alongside Joey, counselling and encouraging him. Joey broke down in tears as he came to faith. He has been a changed man ever since.
In Togo, Dope encourages Mawupemo to smile for the camera. "She is the granddaughter of my older sister," she explains. "Her mother and her grandmother both died. She had no one, so I took her in and named her Mawupemo, which means God’s way."