APRIL 5, 2023 · BY AMY HECKMAN
In Nepal, the children at one Nazarene child development center share a common experience—many have never celebrated their own birthdays. For families in this area who struggle with ongoing poverty, there’s no time or money to spend on play or celebrations. Instead, parents have to stay focused on earning enough to eat and have housing. Many of the children have worked alongside their parents to support the families’ needs. When they are enrolled in the center, though, not only are children given opportunities to grow spiritually, educationally, and physically, but special moments like birthday and Christmas celebrations with their classmates help shape their emotional development.
The local church that hosts the center has noticed an increase in relationships between community members and their members thanks to this ministry.
A child development center in Romania provides a safe environment so children and teens can develop positive self-esteem, grow spiritually, and improve their academic skills. The center provides Bible teaching, meals, clothing, tutoring, access to health care, and a place for kids to play together.
Sometimes the benefits a child takes home from their center are intangible, yet no less impactful. “To be part of this program helped me to see myself with different eyes,” said one teenager who attends the Romanian center. “I learned to control my emotions.”
Life in Nicaragua can be difficult for children. At least 42 percent of the population lives in poverty, and that widespread unemployment, poor infrastructure, and other stressors leave many families struggling to survive. At one child development center, parents are educated on helping their children grow through proper nutrition and food preparation. A water well provides clean water for children and their families to use. Younger children receive academic coaching, and teens are supplied with vocational training. These activities are in addition to the regular spiritual guidance and extracurriculars like music and art lessons that make up the rest of the center’s activities.
Still, the stressors outside the center are sometimes a strong pull. Because of this, last year, several teens stopped attending. The center staff are committed to praying for the teens' safety and that they would be able to make wise choices for their futures. Due to work shortages in the area, some families had to leave for a season to harvest coffee in the mountains, taking their children with them. Other parents were concerned with earning enough money to pay fees for their children to graduate from school.
“God supplied all the needs,” reported one leader.
Last May, two teens who also attend the church graduated from a baptism class. After their baptism in a nearby lake, the church and center community enjoyed a celebration together.
The center staff continues to press into their mission to help children and teens develop and grow. “The task ahead of us is very challenging,” said the leader. “We are praying and fasting that the Lord will help us continue in the race of compassion. We have seen God's support in everything we have done for his work and for his beloved children.”
When you sponsor a child, you help them attend a child development center like these. To learn more about making a difference for children living in poverty, visit ncm.org/sponsor.