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One Young Man’s Journey from Orphan to Graduate Made Possible by Philanthropic San Diego Volunteers
Longtime supporters of Unity 4 Orphans share their experience as child sponsors with Unity 4 Orphans, shedding light on what it means to serve others and provide underprivileged children with healing from trauma and hope for the future. We invite you to enjoy one San Diego couple’s heartwarming sponsorship story for an orphaned child in Mexico.
When Tony and Adriana went on their first service trip with Unity 4 Orphans, they had begun dating after meeting at The Rock Church and were looking for a way to serve together. Not only did the opportunity to show love to children at orphanages in Mexico appeal to them, but they are also bilingual and able to easily communicate with the kids in Spanish.
Helping Orphaned Children Succeed in School
On the first service trip they joined, they met a boy named Jose Manuel, who was 12 years old at the time, as well as his younger brothers. Tony recalls an instant connection to the boys, although Jose was a bit reserved, understandably, considering his experiences with people in his life abandoning him. Once he opened up, they saw a kid who was inquisitive, intelligent, and already looking toward his future.
“During the time I spent with Jose and the kids at the orphanage, I could see how caring, nurturing and selfless of a person he is. He was always watching out for his younger brothers and protecting them.” – Adriana Monteiro
They continued visiting the orphanage regularly during U4O service trips and even requested permission to make additional trips on their own. Being bilingual and able to communicate in Spanish made them wonderful tutors and mentors, and their willingness to offer support and guidance drew out the best in the kids, especially Jose Manuel. From the beginning, they chose to become sponsors, and continue to contribute to his education.
Connecting with Orphan Children Makes a Difference
Their connection with Jose Manuel was strong from that first day; they noticed something special as he would talk with them openly about his life and future aspirations. He was mature for his age and all he needed was a chance; he never asked for anything except for help with school, and Tony was glad to encourage and provide guidance in place of the father figure that was absent in Jose Manuel’s life. In this way, both Tony and U4O founder Joe Brandi have played vital roles in Jose’s trajectory.
Just like he did with his own daughter, Tony would ask Jose and the other kids, “What do you want to do with your life?” and advise them that education is always the key to success. He encouraged them that they can be whatever they want to be, and this gave Jose Manuel the confidence to dedicate himself to his studies and pursue higher education, despite the difficulties he’s had to face.
“To this day, he has never asked us for anything like money, shoes, clothes or toys. He has shown a level of maturity beyond his years and has always been steady in his relationship with us, always excited to tell us about his grades in school and the projects he is working on.” – Adriana Monteiro
The grace in this subtle, ongoing outreach is at the heart of U4O’s mission, and we couldn’t be more proud of what Jose has worked so hard to achieve. He has earned outstanding grades in all four years of college and will earn his pre-law degree in the summer of 2022.
Serving Brings Volunteers Together
During their years of serving with U4O, Tony and Adriana have been able to see a different side of one another, and this impact on their relationship has been deep and long-lasting. Joe Brandi even served as minister at their wedding! They also share a different worldview than many Americans, having grown up in Brazil and Tony being the son of a minister. His father always encouraged him to help others, and their family regularly found ways to do so. Though it’s second nature and he feels compelled to serve others, the time with U4O has only solidified this desire.
Tony invites everyone to get involved, one way or another, and understand that the most precious commodity you can give the kids is your time and attention. The programs that U4O offers are a great place to start in providing education and holistic care to each and every child at the orphanages served. To those looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children, Tony says, “There’s no better place to start than U4O!”
“Giving comes in many different forms: monetary, time, and attention. Most important is just get involved even if it’s in a small way. Give with an open heart and God will do the work needed.” -Adriana Monteiro
As for Jose Manuel, his bright future is already underway and it really has taken a village to help him reach his goals. U4O Board Member Ivonne Aparicio is providing him with a suit for the graduation ceremony; U4O is helping with various graduation costs, and Tony and Adriana are looking forward to assisting with any other needs he may have and plan to be present at the ceremony in July 2022.
Jose works full-time on top of his law studies and plans to improve his English language skills before obtaining his license to practice law. We’re all so proud of this outstanding young man and the inspiration he continues to bring to so many with his humility, determination, and perseverance!