The Leadership Development Program is offered to students who have graduated from Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program. Only the top academic students, who have demonstrated excellence in leadership in their schools, churches, and communities are eligible to be in the Leadership Development Program.
Juan entered Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program at the age of 6. One year earlier his father had died in a construction accident. Juan and his family were devestated. Juan's mother worked very hard to keep the family together. Having Juan in the Compassion development center meant that he received Christian mentoring, education, health care, food, and a safe environment. After school 3 days a week, Juan received a meal at the development center, and often there was enough leftovers that he could bring food home for his family. This helped his mother maintain the family.
In 1998 Hurricane George struck the Dominican Republic and wiped out their family home. They did not have much, but lost all of their belongings. Through the help of Compassion, their house was restored. Juan's mother continued to work hard as a maid, and eventually she managed to save enough for concrete floors and electricity.
Juan's sponsors during these years were in Australia. Though they were never able to visit him in person, they sent frequent letters of encouragement. Juan tells me he looked forward to those letters and kept every one of them, reading them over and over. Juan says without Compassion, his life would be "a disaster".
In October 2007 Juan graduated high school. This is quite an accomplishment for a child living in extreme poverty. Not only did he graduate, but he received his school's "Most Excellent Student" award. After a series of interviews, Juan was accepted in Compassion's Leadership Development Program. Juan's goal is to become a pediatrician.
Juan's sponsors in the LDP are twelve firefighters from Valley Regional Fire Authority in Washington state. These sponsors have made a commitment to sponsor Juan for 6 years. Some have already expressed an interest in attending Juan's graduation.
Juan will attend Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. Established in 1538, it is the oldest university in the New World. Juan dreams of becoming a pediatrician so he can care for children in the impoverished communities of his country.
You can read more about Juan at www.compassion.com.