Maria Andrea working in the classroom
Maria Andrea at work in her classroom

Twelve-year-old Maria Andrea from Colombia is like many of her six-grade classmates. She loves to paint and sing. She enjoys Spanish but is less enthusiastic about biology. She is part of a trio of best friends who call themselves the “Three Musketeers.”

What sets Maria apart from other preteens, however, are the unique challenges she faces while navigating life without arms or legs.

When Maria Andrea was born, doctors told her parents there was no hope for her to lead any kind of life, and her mother planned to abandon her at the hospital. But Maria Andrea’s grandfather came to her rescue. He consulted with Jose Villamizar, his church pastor, and Jose’s wife, International Needs Colombia Executive Director Martha Villamizar.

With the support of the Villamizars and the rest of his church family, Maria Andrea’s grandfather became her legal guardian, advocate, and fiercest fan. And through God’s loving provision, an International Needs partner agreed to become the young girl’s sponsor.

Today Maria Andrea is a student at the International Needs Rosa de Saron School. Adoring fellow students and teachers line up to help carry her up stairs or push her wheelchair. At times, Maria Andrea maneuvers herself around classrooms and even joins in games of soccer with the help of her partial arm and foot.

Over the years, Maria Andrea’s grandfather and his church have prayed for Maria Andrea and reached out to her mother and father. Her parents have come to love and care for their daughter in a way that only the Lord could orchestrate. Today, Maria Andrea lives with her mother, sister, and brother and enjoys a close relationship with her father.

All who meet Maria Andrea are inspired by her courage and indomitable spirit.

“I’m a blessed girl, and I like to share with people who don’t know about the Lord how to love him and learn about his power,” she says. “I am a living testimony that God fulfills your dreams when you trust in him.”

Maria Andrea gives thanks for the many people in her life who see what she has to offer rather than what she is missing.

She was created by God, beautiful in every way, and is a blessing to her family, her church, her school, and to the worldwide International Needs community.

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Watch a video about Maria Andrea’s story!