Danny and Joyce are part of Eastgate Christian Centre, a Baptist church in east Auckland. They both grew up in different parts of the Philippines and were sponsor children. Read about their stories and how they eventually met, married, and moved to Auckland.

They will be sharing their stories in more depth at Windsor Park Baptist Church on 7 August at 9:30am.

Joyce’s story

“Growing up, I didn’t know what soap was or what brushing your teeth looked like, or what it was like to eat three meals a day,” says Joyce Paculaba.  She grew up in extreme poverty until the age of seven, in Manila, Philippines. 

“My father was a security guard but he died when I was just two years old. He was the victim of a shootout,” says Joyce.

Her mother was put into a mental institution, so from a very young age, she was fostered. “I moved from one aunt to another, staying with whoever would take me,” she says.

She eventually found “home” when she went to live with her mother’s eldest sister. She was married to a pastor who was the Compassion Project Director at the time. 

“My uncle and aunty, four cousins and I lived in a house at the back of the church. All of my cousins were younger. I played games with them and taught them how to play chess and shoot hoops. They took me in as their own—I had finally found a family that loved and cared for me.”  

When Joyce was seven, her aunty and uncle enrolled her in the local Compassion Programme, not long after a student decided to sponsor her.

“My first sponsor got a cleaning job, just so she could afford to pay for my sponsorship. That gave me the motivation to study harder at school.”

Through her sponsorship, she received a uniform, school supplies and books. She was also able to eat three times a day.  

Growing up Joyce had no idea what a birthday was – it was such a foreign concept to her.

“My favourite memory as a sponsored child was getting these beautiful birthday clothes and toys and seeing a cake for the first time! This was a massive deal to me. I also now had security and a sense of direction through my sponsorship.” 

“When I went to Sunday school at the Compassion Centre, I came to know the Lord as my saviour. That’s when everything changed.”

Her last sponsors were an older couple. “Their grandkids drew pictures and sent them to me, and they said they were praying for me. It is beyond words the impact that had on me as a child. They had never met me, but they loved me as if I was a part of their family.”

They sponsored Joyce until she was able to finish her Bachelor of Business Administration.  

“After I graduated, I wanted to minister to other children and bless my sponsors, so I volunteered at a Compassion Centre. I would help translate letters from Filipino to English, help facilitate programmes as an emcee, organise summer camps, teach in Sunday school and organise a Kid’s Praise Musical.”

Danny’s story

“I grew up receiving the benefits of my sister Miriam’s sponsorship. I was born in Cebu, Phillipines, about 800km away from Manilla. It was a busy neighbourhood, we didn’t have a lot, but we were happy,” says Danny.

Danny lived with his two parents and his three siblings. His mother was the project director of the local Compassion Centre at the time.

His younger sister Miriam was sponsored through Compassion from primary school right up until high school. Her sponsor also helped her go on to study physical therapy at university.

“When you sponsor a child you sponsor a whole family,” says Danny.

After Miriam studied physical therapy for two years she got into a freak accident.

“She was sadly hit by a vehicle, it was a very hard time for the family. After the accident, her sponsor still wanted to help, so he decided to move her sponsorship onto me.”

“At 18-years-old I was one of the eldest enrolled with the Compassion Programme. Sponsorship gave me school materials, a uniform, food, school supplies, birthday clothes and meant I could go to a good doctor. Sponsorship also allowed me to grow up with happy memories and have a fulfilling childhood,” says Danny.

From a tragic turn of events, came something beautiful.

“I wanted to study hard and make the most out of the sponsorship after my sister died. Because of her sponsor, I was able to complete a computer engineering degree.”

“I am so grateful to God for the way he always came through for me and took care of me,” says Danny.

When Joyce’s and Danny’s path collided

In 2005, Danny and Joyce met at a Compassion Alumni homecoming. 

“I liked Danny’s sense of humour. He was shy, but when he spoke he made me laugh. We became good friends,” says Joyce.

Later that year Danny had to move to Singapore for a job as a liason officer in a construction project.

“We had a long-distance friendship for seven years, and in the eighth year, when I went to visit Danny, he asked me to be his girlfriend. The following year we were married, if neither of us were sponsored we would have never met,” says Joyce.

After another three years of long-distance marriage, Joyce and Danny decided to settle in New Zealand together.

“Joyce works for Auckland Transport as a transport controls administrator and I work in construction,” says Danny.

A few months ago Tearfund came to Joyce’s and Danny’s church (Eastgate Christian Centre) and spoke about sponsorship. 

“Danny and I decided to take a leap of faith and sponsor little 7-year-old Kefi from Indonesia. We hope to be as much of a blessing to Kefi, as our sponsors were to us,” says Joyce.

Danny and Joyce are speaking at churches throughout Auckland as part of Tearfund New Zealand’s My Life Was Changed tour. They will be sharing their stories in more depth at Windsor Park Baptist Church on 7 August at 9:30am.

Story: Grace Ellis, Communications Specialist at Tearfund, adapted from its first publication in Tearfund’s Correspondent magazine.

Photo credits: supplied by Tearfund.

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