Children in the developing world have so many needs it’s hard to know where to start. Food? Education? Clean water? Faith? Each of these things is a key to ending poverty for good, and we know children need them all. In order to treat all these needs at once, we built Life Centers.
Life Centers are the heart of Childcare Worldwide’s programs. Children in our programs meet at their Life Center weekly, building personal relationships with the staff and teachers there. This allows us learn exactly what each child’s needs are – and the needs are many! – and find appropriate ways to meet them. Instead of just a band aid, our Life Centers offer children in need real, holistic change.
These are children like little Esther, who had many needs and troubles. But through the Life Center, she found help in many different forms.
Esther is a sweet young girl of ten, but behind her innocent smile she hides deep heartache. You see, Esther’s father abandoned her.
Her mother is a strong woman, and does her best to play both parental roles for Esther and her three other children. Esther fondly talks about how her mother “is always smiling.” Even though she usually doesn’t know where the next meal will come from or how she will keep all the children in school, Esther’s mom perseveres.
But Esther also sadly explains how she never gets to see her father, while the “other children live with their father AND mother.” As we talk she confesses her deepest fear: that her mother will abandon her also. “I fear there will be no one to look after me,” she says “if my mother also goes away like my father.”
On top of this fear, Esther also has to deal with Kenya’s rampant corruption. She sees it first hand at her school. If you show up late to class, the prefects – the older, responsible students – are supposed to assign punishments like extra chores. But Esther has seen the prefects accept money instead of the chores. These are young teenagers and they’re already encouraging bribery!
Combine Esther’s abandonment issues with the corruption she encounters at school, and you might expect Esther to be headed down a dark path. Thankfully there are positive influences in Esther’s life that counteract the darkness!
ANSWERS TO PRAYER
Esther’s mother is very committed to taking her to the local Life Center every Saturday. And the lessons she learns there are invaluable.
One of the most important lessons for Esther has been thankfulness. The teachers have been encouraging Esther to find things to be thankful for every day. And the one thing she keeps coming back to is her mom!
“I used to not say thank you to my mother when she gave me food,” Esther tells us, “but now I thank her.” Slowly, this emphasis on gratefulness, is improving her relationship with her mom. It is a subtle shift, but for Esther, thankfulness is starting to outweigh her fear of abandonment.
The Life Center is also helping Esther learn to trust God. With so little money in the family, there is a lot of uncertainty in Esther’s life. Will there be dinner on the table tonight? Can I afford to go to school tomorrow? But at the Life Center she learned to pray, and to talk to God as a person and a loving Father. So she prayed that God would help meet their needs. And God heard her prayer!
About a year ago, Esther got sponsored! She couldn’t believe it when she heard the news. Someone she’d never even met cared about her! For a little girl who fears abandonment, her sponsorship is a powerful declaration that she is loved. Plus, she can now she can go to school every day knowing she’ll be able to keep coming back.
But there was more good news coming her way… Esther’s family was selected to receive a Pak O’ Pigs! They received four baby pigs, help building a pig pen, and a crash course in raising them. With the support of the Life Center, Esther has been helping her mom learn to take care of the piglets. It’s Esther’s job to feed them every day. When they grow up and have babies of their own, these pigs will be an invaluable source of both food and income.
Both the pigs and her sponsorship are incredible answers to prayer, solid proof of God’s care.
Kids like Esther are why our Life Centers exist. Poverty can’t be solved by giving someone a little food one time. But long-term support and personal care tailored to each child, combined with the power of God’s love? That can change a life forever!