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Alejandro

Katy Steele, 22

I met five-year-old Alejandro during a one-month trip to the Dominican Republic. I spent the month interning at Doulos Discovery, a K-12 Christian school in the small town of Jarabacoa. Alejandro is like any other little boy. He giggles, squeals, dances across the kitchen floor, falls asleep reading bedtime stories, and gets into silly fights with his older brother. Unlike other five-year-olds you may know, Alejandro doesn’t go to school. At least, he didn’t before Hannah stepped into his life.

Alejandro Birthday Gift 2Hannah and I met at Doulos and became best friends. She was working as a teacher, and Alejandro’s family was hosting her during her stay. Alejandro’s laugh was contagious and his heart was big. When Hannah and I celebrated her twenty-third birthday, Alejandro snuck up on us with a gift for Hannah. He placed his toy xylophone into her lap and gave her a big hug. We both burst into joyful laughter at Alejandro’s genuine display of friendship and selfless love.

When Hannah found out that Alejandro’s family couldn’t afford to send him to school, she took action. To attend Doulos, Alejandro needed a sponsor. If someone covered his tuition, he could walk into a kindergarten classroom the next day. Hannah immediately rallied support.

Alejandro First Day of School 2With help from Hannah and her family, Alejandro’s life is heading in a new direction. When Hannah told Alejandro’s mom that her family wanted to sponsor Alejandro so that he could go to school, huge tears welled up in her eyes and a smile spread across Alejandro’s face. I’ve never seen someone so excited to carry a book bag!

With an education, Alejandro is less likely to get caught up in drug and alcohol abuse, which affects forty-six percent of teenagers in Jarabocoa. At Doulos Discovery school, he will grow academically and spiritually. He will graduate with a high school diploma, the ability to speak English, and a heart that knows the truth about Jesus.

During his life on earth, Jesus was deeply committed to caring for the poor. In him we see the perfect expression of God’s love for people. Jesus closely identified with the poor, saying to us, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40, NIV). Because the needs of the poor and hurting are closely woven into God’s own heart, God yearns for the same heart to be in us.

When we talk about caring for our neighbors, we aren’t talking about abstract statistics. We’re talking about children like Alejandro. His life looks different now because Hannah and her family from Kansas City chose to love their brother in Christ.

 

DIG DEEPER

Alejandro Book bag FTRWatch Alejandro’s face light up when he finds out he gets to start school, and listen to Hannah talk about her decision to care for her brother in need. Check out the VIDEO.

CHOOSE TO LOVE: Only one in ten Dominicans graduate from high school. The need for education in the Dominican Republic is great. More than 200 students attend Doulos Discovery School, and half of them depend on sponsors like Hannah and her family. Talk with your family or youth group about sponsoring a child—at Doulos or through another Christian organization. You too can put an ear-to-ear smile on a child’s face.

Photos of Hannah and Alejandro courtesy of Katy Steele

Katy Steele, 22 , has been writing recently about The World Race, a mission trip to eleven countries in eleven months to love the least of these. This month, Katy is in Swaziland. Follow her adventure at www.katysteele.theworldrace.org.

—from devozine (January/February 2015). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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