Locked up, malnourished and mistreated, six-year-old Walberto and his sister didn’t bother dreaming of what might be. Life was survival. As their mother drank all day long, they lost any hope of better times.
Walberto and his sister are not alone. In Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, a third of all children are malnourished and few receive an education. Opportunities for stable employment are scarce, especially in rural areas like Managua where the family lived.
Rescue eventually came their way in the form of Walberto’s father, who heard of their situation and brought them to live with him and his family in Leon City.
Around the same time, Walberto was registered at a local Compassion project. “I had no dreams before I came to the project,” Walberto says. “I began to dream when I received the classes and began to develop my abilities. I felt happy.”
The project offered vocational training classes as part of the Compassion programme - Walberto found his niche.
“I learnt to make many things. Then the project offered advanced vocational training in pastry and I benefitted again. I loved it! Now once a week I make cheese sticks or cake. Tutors and my siblings help me sell them. With the earnings, I buy my personal things and also give some to my dad to help the family.”
Walberto’s father is immensely proud of his son. “I feel proud when he gives me money to help with the family expenses; not many teenagers do that," he explains. "A while ago he made a cake for my birthday. It didn't taste good but he has improved a lot!”
Walberto´s life is very different now. He loves school and dreams of getting a degree in computer science and running his own bakery.
“We tell [children about] the importance of vocational training as a tool to help themselves in life," adds Gabriela, Walberto's Compassion project director. "It helps them survive in a country where, according to society, there is no way to succeed.”
Find out how we empower children to escape poverty