As 2016 draws to a close, we want to rejoice with children who've overcome obstacles and challenges this year. We want to celebrate those who have taken steps out of their comfort zones or persisted when things got tough. We want to give God the glory.
Every week we have the privilege of working alongside thousands of remarkable children and young people. We have so many stories to tell, but here are just 7 to brighten your day and encourage you in the difference your support is making.
8-year-old Fabrice learnt to speak
When Fabrice (middle, back) joined his Compassion project, he'd never been able to say a word. His project arranged for a medical check where he was diagnosed with tongue-tie. A simple operation was all that was needed to help him: two weeks later, Fabrice spoke for the first time in eight years. "My daily prayer is that God would bless those who are supporting our children," his dad Kpatcha explains. "Today, thanks to them, I can talk with my son."
Pamela passed her school exams, despite battling a brain tumour
19-year-old Pamela is an incredible young woman. Despite battling a brain tumour which has left her with a severe tremor, she's determined to finish school. To help her study, her Compassion project has provided a laptop and typing tutor. This year she passed every one of her junior high exams.
Joseph started school
Joseph's grandma Afua looks after him on her own. Her greatest fear has always been not being able to care for him and afford to send him to school. This year was a big year for the family - Joseph's sponsor has enabled him to start school. Despite being a little nervous at the start, he's loving it.
Maria invited her parents to church
"My prayer was for my parents to know God," explains Maria, a petite but self-assured 7-year-old who lives on the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. "I even asked my friends to help me pray. The Lord answered. My parents now come with me to church. God came and changed our hearts for new ones. Our home is different now - there is more peace."
Georgina started university
Growing up in the deprived coastal town of Sakumono, Ghana, Georgina often had to skip meals when her mum's income simply wasn't enough. She never dreamt of being able to go to university, and yet this year she's begun a four year degree in computer science and engineering. “I owe everything I am today to my sponsor, the project and the church," she says. "The project instilled in us the art of self-discipline and hard work and made us believe in ourselves."
Karla became a table tennis champion
Last January, Compassion project Hechos Infantiles decided to start table tennis workshops to encourage local children to develop positive hobbies in a community plagued by gang violence and drug abuse. From the off, 10-year-old Karla loved playing. Only three months in, she was able to take part in a local competition in Morazán, El Salvador, where she came third.
Secia gained confidence
“When my mum died, my [Compassion] tutor, Noemi, always reminded me that I was not alone and that God was always there to protect me," says 10-year-old Secia.
Things have been extremely tough for this courageous young girl. She's never known her dad and she recently lost her mum to TB. Despite battling grief, Secia has grown in confidence and discovered a love of dance at her project. "We've seen a tremendous change in Secia in less than six months," adds Noemi. "Now Secia is happy, friendly and affectionate.”