"I don't even want to remember my early childhood, about the days when I was alone, hungry and scared."

Nataliya with her mother and younger brother

Natalia, now 14, grew up being neglected and verbally abused by her alcoholic mother. In Palanca, a village in Moldova where unemployment and alcoholism are rife, Natalia's childhood was considered normal. Every day Natalia would search in the pots and pans hoping to find some scraps of food for her and her younger brother, but many days she would go to bed hungry.

The struggles at home overwhelmed her with constant anxiety and ate away at her self-esteem, which made school difficult. Not knowing how to cope with her feelings, Natalia often lashed out at her teachers and peers. But for young Natalia her one refuge was her grandmother’s home, where, despite its poverty, she always felt safe. 

Her grandmother’s home is only two rooms, its musty odour and stifling air catches your breath. The cement floors are hidden by worn carpets printed with faded-coloured roses. But what stands out is the vibrant, coloured woollen blanket that proudly adorns Natalia's bed. A constant reminder of when her life began to change - the day she was sponsored. Their grandmother's modest house has given Natalia and her brother a safe place to call home where they are loved and cared for - they still see their mother from time to time. 

Nataliya with her grandmother

Thanks to Natalia's generous sponsor, MWB can continue to give her the emotional and physical support that Natalia needs to thrive. She attends MWB After School Program, where she receives a warm, healthy meal every weekday, as well as help with her homework. Since then, Natalia has seen incredible changes in her life - and the people around her have noticed too.

"I have no words to express my feelings when I see the kinds of changes in a child's life as we have seen in Natalia," said coordinator Serghei. He dedicates his time to working with our sponsored children living in Palanca. "From a withdrawn, sad child who felt inferior to other children, she is now an active, friendly, supportive girl who is an encouragement to other children."

Natalia's blue eyes sparkle with joy when she talks about how MWB has changed her life. "I am the happiest girl to have found this place. Here I have many friends and I spend my afternoons in such a fun way and I have learned so many useful things. But most importantly, I found God here." Natalia joyfully exclaimed, "I also love going to church now and when we sing or put on a skit at church." 

For Natalia, being a part of MWB's Child Sponsorship Program gave her a home, a place to grow and be nurtured and a colourful blanket. The blanket sits proudly on her bed, to remind her daily of newfound hope.