Meet the Graduates: Maria's Story

06/26/14

If you knew Maria's story, you'd realize why graduating from high school was an accomplishment beyond her wildest expectations.

Maria still can't believe it. On Sunday, June 29, she will graduate from high school. "I never knew that one day I'd be graduating from high school," she says, still amazed that this day has actually come. 

 
From a young age, Maria learned not to expect much from life. The youngest of four siblings, her parents both died shortly after she was born. She and her brothers and sisters went to live with her aunt and uncle. 
 
Life is fragile in Malawi—disease is rampant and Maria's family had no access to medical care. The children were skinny and sickly—they never got enough to eat. In the next few years, every one of Maria's siblings passed away. Then her aunt died as well. It was already difficult for her uncle to provide for her, but without his wife, he had even less. 
 
Life was fragile for Maria and her siblings in Malawi
       Life was fragile for Maria and her siblings in Malawi. Out of four children, she was the only one who survived. 
 
Maria had no school uniform, no books or pencils, and counted herself lucky if she ate one meal a day. In Malawi, primary school is free, but Maria could never concentrate because she was so hungry. 
 
Plus, she knew that once she finished eighth grade, her education would be finished. High school is expensive, and there were no resources to send her. "I never dreamed anything about my life," she says. "I never knew I could be educated and know Christ as my savior."
 
Maria, shortly after she got a new home and family at the COTN Children's Homes
                             Maria, shortly after she got a new home and family at the COTN Children's Homes. 
 
God used people like you to help Maria dream again—and to make those dreams achievable. Children of the Nations® (COTN®) identified Maria for child sponsorship when she was five years old, and since that day she hasn't had to worry about her education or food for a minute. Maria came to live in the Children's Homes, and because her sponsors stood by her side all these years, Maria is honored to be in the second graduating class of COTN's high school in Malawi, the International Christian Academy. 
 
"Finishing grade twelve was never an option for me because my family could not afford tuition at a school like the International Christian Academy," Maria says. 
 
Maria is graduating from high school because her sponsors have provided for her
Maria used to stay home from school because she didn't have a uniform. But today, she's graduating from high school because her sponsors have provided for her education. 
 
Maria says her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” Because people like you were faithful and provided for her, Maria has seen this come to pass in her life. “Today, I have a testimony when I go back to my village,” she says. “I want to challenge others with my testimony.”
 
Maria, like each of the other 24 graduates, will enter her gap year after graduation—a year students at COTN take between high school and college to serve their community and gain job experience. After that, she hopes to go on to university, and eventually to become a flight attendant. "I also want to help the needy and elderly in my village by serving them in the best way possible," she adds. 
 
On the exciting day when she gets her diploma, Maria will be thinking about her sponsors. "I am so thankful for everything they have done in my life," she says. 
 
 
Give a child the opportunity to achieve her dreams! Sponsor a child today!