Christmas is one of the times when we remember the importance of giving back—especially because of the gift God gave us with the birth of his son Jesus.
Mayra Mamani knows about gifts. Now 23 years old, Mayra became a Food for the Hungry sponsored child in Sucre, Bolivia when she was 7 years old. Her family—dad Miguel, mother Bertha, five brothers and a sister—had just moved to their neighborhood, Horno Ckasa, from a rural area.
“The neighborhood was dirty. There were only dusty streets. The houses were made of mud bricks, and many young people were in the streets with no dreams and no personal vision. The best they expected was to finish high school,” says Mayra.
Mayra (left) with her father, mother and sister
FH staff quickly saw that Mayra had great potential. At age 12, she received the gift of a scholarship to learn pastry making and basic accounting with four other children from her neighborhood. In time, the students banded together to start their own pastry business (after school, of course).
Because FH was also concerned about Mayra’s spiritual growth, staff helped her enroll in evangelism and discipleship training with LIBOPEN (Bolivian Children’s Evangelization League). FH paid for the first part of the training, but Mayra paid out of her pocket to finish it. She gave back by volunteering via her church throughout high school.
Today, Mayra is just weeks away from finishing her medical training.
Mayra in the area where she served her rural internship
“FH helped me a lot, the staff encouraged me constantly, and they used to say ‘you can do it.’ They challenged me to keep going. They made me realize that we are able to change our history,” Mayra says. “I used to be very shy, and they helped me to overcome my fears and barriers that prevented me from reaching my goals.”
Mayra hopes to use her training and education to give back. “My dream is to become a specialist and to work at the hospital and open a clinic to help the poor people,” she says.
The whole community benefits
But beyond her own transformation, Mayra sees how FH has helped the entire community. “I see change in my neighborhood. Now, it is quieter. Before, it used to be a gang area. The streets are paved now and there are basic services. The youth are studying. They want to excel and have a vision, and it is because of FH, because it is a Christian organization.”
In this Christmas season, we think of giving back as helping someone living poverty or giving gifts. That’s certainly true, and FH does have ways you can help. Our gift catalog, for example, provides the opportunity to contribute to the scholarship fund that helped Mayra take the classes in pastry making.
But in this season, think about giving back by encouraging others like Mayra—investing in people personally, helping them reach their potential as FH did in her Bolivian community. And as Mayra will undoubtedly do one day when she opens her clinic.