Power of ONE: After a decade of sponsorship, a chance to meet

World-changer Johannes Casados (above) has been Betxy's sponsor since the girl was 6 years old. The two of them finally had the chance to meet in person last year in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We recently caught up with Johannes and had a Q&A with him to learn more.

Q: Please tell us about yourself and how you first became involved with #TeamCI?

I was born in Mexico, and my family moved to California when I was 6. Growing up, I would see commercials of organizations that would help children. I promised myself that when I got older, I too would help a child in need. So about 10 years ago, I began my search through Google. I was looking for an organization that helped educate the child, developed the community the child was in, provided resources for the family and respected the family's religion.

Q: Can you share a little more about your childhood?

In my family, we all had chores to do and took jobs at an early age. I became a janitor of several office buildings at age 12. I would complete my duties when the office employees were long gone, either late at night or weekends. At times, my studies would suffer, but I did have a love for books that kept me engaged at school. It was challenging for me and took longer than most to complete school. But I did manage to finish school and eventually earned a master's degree in business administration, with an emphasis in finance.

Here, they are welcoming him to their home.

Betxy’s older sister and mom held up the banner that greeted Johannes upon his arrival at the community center. Here, they are welcoming him to their home.

Q: What was it like when you finally met Betxy in person?

It was exciting! At first, I wasn't sure it was her, because there were so many people around. But I knew it must be her as I got closer and she lit up with a great smile. We all teared up with excitement! Spending time with Betxy and her mom and little sister was one of the highlights of my life. It was rainy, so we spent about an hour in an arcade, playing and getting to know each other. Then I took them out to lunch and took Betxy on a shopping spree for her upcoming school year.

Q: You met Betxy at the community center where she receives benefits and opportunities. You mentioned that you initially thought it was a school. What did you think of the center?

I was impressed with the CI community center. I am a strong advocate for getting the community together and working for a common goal. They were having a community outreach activity when I visited the center. There seemed to be hundreds of children playing games with each other, with their mothers conversing nearby. It was evident to me that CI not only provides physical resources but also a network of caring individuals who can help turn their goals and ambitions into reality by working together.

Johannes with Betxy and her younger sister on a shopping trip for school items.

Johannes with Betxy and her younger sister on a shopping trip for school items.

Q: What did Hilda (Betxy's mom) say to you?

She informed me that she works as a housekeeper to provide for her family. With tears in her eyes, she mentioned that my support helped ensure Betxy could continue her studies and be taken care of. She shared that although she sometimes felt nervous and distressed about being able to make ends meet, she knew she didn't have to worry about Betxy.

Q: Can you explain how being Betxy's sponsor has impacted your life?

Picture this: After spending a long day at work, I arrive home exhausted. I check my mail and there, buried within the bills and advertisements, is a letter from Betxy. I immediately smile. Through the years, her letters have brought me great joy.

She tells me about her day and includes a drawing of whatever is on her mind. These letters have always made me happy because it is evidence that I am making a positive difference in someone's life!

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