Hi, my name is Joelito Panaguiton. I’m 11 years old and I live in the Philippines.

When I was a young boy, my mother passed away. My father was in jail, so my grandmother had to take in me and five of my older siblings. She was our sole provider selling candies in the streets, but she passed away not long after.

I can remember my stomach swelling up because we didn’t have food most of the time. All I had in mind was, “Could I eat today?”

I always longed for my older sister to come home. She would beg on the streets for food, and sometimes she would bring home something for us to eat! But most of the time she came home empty handed. Those moments of emptiness still ring in my mind.

I also remember having no clothes. Many times I was naked or nearly naked. I didn’t know how to use a bathroom, we had no house so we were outside most of the time, and the uncertainty of each new day was overwhelming. I thought I would never get out of the pit of nothingness.

But then, God.

He brought people into my life who stepped in and took me to AMG’s Home of Hope. That was June 29, 2010.

I brought nothing with me to the home, even the shirt on my back wasn’t mine, it was my brother’s. The staff here gave me some new clothes, but because I was so used to not wearing anything I struggled with wanting to keep them on. They were uncomfortable, constricting.

Everything was so new…how could I be loved like this? Suddenly all of my needs were met: I was in school, I was eating and getting healthier each day.

And then I met Jesus here.

Joelito is in the front left – the little boy being silly – in the photo

I still long for a parent’s love, but the Home of Hope staff never ceases to share their love, concern and blessings to children like me.  I entered the 6th grade this past June. At times I struggled, but I am so thankful for the love and patience of the staff and house parents here. There were times I acted out, paid little attention, and was moody and defiant, but they still love me and are helping me grow into the young man of God I want to be.They are always here to pick me up when I feel unworthy, while showing me the love of the Father in a very real way each and every day.

I’ve been at  Home of Hope for more than nine years now. In what ways have I changed the most? Well, Jesus has provided a way for me to always be clothed, fed, and sheltered. I have no wholesome memories of my childhood before Home of Hope, but now I am in good hands.

But the most significant change in me has been my outlook on life. It took a long time for me to feel like there was an escape from all the extreme poverty I came from: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But God is so good, He lifts up the broken and wounded, and I’m one of them.

My prayer is to become a singer and chef one day, and God has given me the chance to pursue an education to chase those dreams. I’m still amazed at what all the Lord has given me, and I’m so grateful he lifted me out of the pit of nothingness.

God bless all!