The Day That Everything Changed!
“The very first years of my life, everything was perfect. I had the best toys, nice dresses, and I even had a bike, which not many of my friends had at that time. But one day, a lady arrived at school to pick me up, saying that she was my mother,” said Katerine.
As a baby, Katerine had a troubling start to life. When her birth mother realized she was pregnant, she tried to get rid of her. Far from being a blessing, this baby represented an obstacle to her chaotic, drug-driven life. As soon as she gave birth, she gave the baby to an elderly woman, who unwittingly covered her in a pile of dirty clothes.
“My biological grandmother told me that I was less than 17 days old when she found me beneath dirty clothes. Horrified and desperate, she took me out of that house and gave me to another lady, who became my foster mother to this day,” said Katerine.
With her maternal grandmother unable to raise a baby, Katerine grew up with her foster mother—the only mother she knew. Life was good. Everything changed when she was four years old.
At the end of the school day, she left her classroom and was met outside the school not by her foster mother, but by a woman she had always known as her aunt. She delivered shocking news: she was not Katerine’s aunt, she was her mother.
“I didn’t understand what was going on at that time. I wondered who the person I had grown up with was and why the person I knew as ‘aunt’ claimed to be my mother now,” said Katerine.
Until now, her biological mother had provided for her daughter, so Katerine had enjoyed small luxuries like new clothes and even a bike. When she was four, the support stopped and her hardship began.
“At only six or seven years old, I had to work to help my foster mother with the laundry, scrubbing, and sweeping the yards. When this money was not enough to cover the other expenses at home, we had to go to another house to continue working,” she said.
The family lived in a small two-room house with five other people, her foster family. They lived in a community close to a very dangerous neighborhood where drugs, prostitution, and other crime was common.
“Sometimes criminals from other neighborhoods would come running into our community and enter our homes to hide, and there, in front of the families, the police would even attack the criminals to catch them. Once it happened inside my house,” she said.
In 2000, it was a broken eight-year-old with shattered self-esteem who began attending the local church’s child development center.
“I remember that my greatest motivation for attending the center was food. At home, since there were days when we didn’t have any food to eat, there were days when I would arrive very early to eat breakfast at the center. We also didn’t have to worry about shoes or school supplies because the center provided them,” said Katerine.
As she grew into a young teenager, the memory of the day her ‘aunt’ had called her daughter was seared into her memory, surrounded by feelings of fear and pain. Determined to find answers to her most important questions, Katerine confronted her biological mother.
“Far from finding an apology and affection, my birth mother told me that I had been a mistake in her life and that I was going to hurt her plans. What broke me into pieces was when she told me that she tried to have an abortion three times, and the last time when she saw that she had not succeeded, she intentionally threw herself down the stairs,” said Katerine.
After this heartbreaking discussion, Katerine transformed into a broken, angry young woman. The pain she felt moved her to seek approval and affection through aggression. However, God had a beautiful plan for Katerine and would use her sponsors and Compassion tutors to minister to her and set her life straight again.
“My sponsors impacted my life. I received letters just when I needed them, with the words I needed to read. They always told me that they loved me, that they valued me,” she said.
What impacted her most was how people who had not even seen her, who lived so far away, could make her feel so loved. Her relationship with her sponsors and the trust they had in her was the reason she longed to be a better person and to study.
At the same time, her child development center guided Katerine to forgive her biological mother, knowing it could help set her free from the anger that consumed her.
“My tutor always talked about honoring parents and emphasized that it is a mandate regardless of how your parents are like. I struggled with obeying this command because I thought my mother did not deserve it. But my tutor led me to the director, and one day I asked her forgiveness and forgave my birth mom, and it was the most peaceful moment of my life,” said Katerine.
Thanks to her sponsors and guardians, Katerine released the heavy emotional burden she had carried for years. In a short time, she accepted the Lord during an activity at the center, and from that day on, and she began to serve at her church. Thanks to an English course the center provided, she started translating for missionaries, and also played drums, and helped out with the youngest children at the center.
“Little by little my academic results improved, and I won a scholarship to get a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature through Compassion. Compassion provided all the tools so that I could be empowered physically, emotionally, and cognitively so that I could achieve success and break the cycle of poverty,” said Katerine.
Today, Katerine is a speaker for Compassion. She attends events and conferences in different countries, speaking for the voiceless and suffering, as she did in her childhood. She also works with Compassion Dominican Republic as a host and interpreter for groups and individuals who visit to meet their sponsored children and learn more about Compassion’s work in the country.
“I rejoice in being able to connect the children and their sponsors, she said, “to see those smiles of hope and sparkle in the children’s eyes.”
In Katerine’s own life, that sparkle of hope has become ablaze: one that radiates for all to see.