Paying it Forward

Photos and Story From Josela Lopez, Honduras Field Communications Specialist

Mayra graduated from OneChild’s program in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, with a clear understanding of her purpose. Now a college student, she shares what sponsorship meant to her and why she is giving back at her Hope Center as a Child Champion.

My name is Mayra Michelle Hernandez, and I’m 21 years old. As a girl I didn’t have the privilege to know what growing up with a dad felt like, but my grandparents made sure that the love of a father was something my sister and I didn’t miss. We both grew up with our grandparents.

My mom was always working, and our dad abandoned me when I was a baby.  My grandma always helped us with anything we needed. One day she heard about OneChild’s Hope Centers, and even though she didn’t quite understand what they were, she knew that the Child Champions there talked about Jesus and that they helped children. So I was registered at a Hope Center. The first day I attended the Hope Center I loved it! The food, activities, and, most important, the Child Champions.

Mayra Hernandez

The Hope Center helped our family to come to Jesus. We’d heard about Him before but didn’t have a relationship with Him. The day they took our first picture for a sponsor, the church had a service, and my grandma sat and listened to the sermon. She loved it! Since then we have been active members of the church.

“Having a sponsor changed my life because I felt special knowing that she had chosen me. The impact of a sponsor plus the help at Hope Centers is what really makes a difference in the lives of kids.”

At the Hope Center they taught me many things, but the most remarkable lesson I learned is about identity. My grandparents did the best they could raising two little girls, but because of their poor education, they didn’t teach me about the importance of loving myself and knowing where I came from. I was a very shy girl, but as I grew, my Child Champions helped me understand that I have a purpose in life and that I’m able to dream and to achieve my dreams.

I have the blessing of saying that I was sponsored. The day they told me at the Hope Center that I had a sponsor I was excited because I knew that someone chose me. Her name is Renate, and she sponsored me for six years. She sent me pictures of her family, and I felt like I knew all of them. It was beautiful because I could see how each member was growing up and physically changing. Having a sponsor changed my life because I felt special knowing that she had chosen me.

Mayra showing a book to the kids

Mayra teaches Bible class at the school that her church has. This school is a low-cost bilingual school.

The impact of a sponsor plus the help at Hope Centers is what really makes a difference in the lives of kids. Hope Centers help kids not only by giving them a nutritious meal and by preparing a place where kids can play, but also by giving love, which for me is the most important thing. The Child Champions always had a hug, an encouraging word for me. The Hope Center was my happy place because I learned about my true meaning, and I discovered my talents. Every time a team from the States came, I was happy because I knew they brought materials to make amazing crafts and came in just to spend time with us.

Now is my time to give back.

When I graduated from the Hope Center, I knew I wanted to come back as a Child Champion and pay it forward with kids in need. Some kids can have worse situations than the one I had. Sometimes we see them smiling, but deep in their hearts they are sad. I’m a Child Champion at the Hope Center I graduated from. I love spending time with the kids and teaching them to dream and to believe in themselves. The job is not done yet. There’s a lot more to do for the kids in Tegucigalpa.

Mayra with the girl at the desk coloring

Mayra’s dream is that the kids she helps will find in her what she found in her Child Champions: love.

I was born in 1998, accepted Jesus in 2014, and by the age of 13 I was serving as an active member at church. I want kids to find in me what I found in my Child Champions: love. A love that for some of them is only given at the Hope Center they attend. I attend college and am studying special education at Universidad Pedagogica de Honduras. And I help children at the hope Center. I am paying it forward.

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