What are your dreams? I dream of owning my own home and having a cat. Of course I’d end up filling Instagram with cat photos so it’s probably best for my friends and family I don’t currently own one. 15 year-old Erica’s dreams are simpler.
“I dream of having my own bed. I’d like to be able to sit around a real table to eat with my mother and my siblings in a real dining room. And I dream of becoming a doctor in order to help my mother and serve people who really need help,” Erica says.
15 year-old Erica lives in Riobamba, a city built on the slopes of the Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador. She lives with her four siblings and her single mother in a 10-square-metre room. They have a mattress on the floor which serves as a desk to do homework on, a table for the days they actually have a meal to eat and as a bed for all six of them to sleep on together.
Growing up, there were days when there was no money for food and Erica would go door-to-door, begging for food or money. When Erica was six, her mother Laura was able to enrol her into the local Compassion project where she was sponsored.
Erica’s face lights up when she talks about her sponsor. “He’s 29 and he’s told me about his girlfriend and his brother. I like getting his letters, because I feel I’m important to him and he loves me. Someday I’d like to meet him in person and give him a hug, because somehow I already feel I know him,” she says with a big smile.
When asked about the difference sponsorship has made, Laura replies, “My children have a place to go in the afternoon. They get help with their homework, they get spiritual guidance, and they’re safe.” She adds, “They’ve helped me with food, with school uniforms and shoes, with school supplies and even with medicine when the children have been sick.”
Thanks to the sacrificial support of her sponsor, Erica is receiving all the benefits of sponsorship including education which will lead to greater opportunities. Which means she has the chance of achieving her dream of one day having her own bed. And her dream makes me appreciate my own bed that little bit more.
Words by Roz Walsh with Cecilia Yepez