Today was a day of a wide range of emotions. When we arrived at the Project today the children greeted us with signs, song, and music. The Compassion project gives them the ability to learn how to play instruments!
After a program by the children, we began to interact with the children. Some of the guys played sports with the boys and the girls began to paint the girls nails and put barrettes in their hair.
Erica painted faces and hands. The kids had never seen this be done before!
One of the things that touched me today is the “moms group” that exists at this project. The church noticed that the women were bringing their children to the project and then waiting three hours to take them back home because it was too far to walk. They decided to minister to the moms and began to offer them workshops and teach them crafts. These purses were made by the moms and the sale of them went to support their families. We purchased every single purse they had! They had never sold so many!
In the afternoon we went to the home of one of the little boys in the program. This proved to be the most difficult and heartbreaking home we’ve seen all week. Henry lives with his grandma, 3 siblings, two uncles, his mother, and his grandfather. There is no electricity or water in this home.
This is the inside of their one room home. The trash bag you see in the middle of the photo is their “dresser”. This is how they keep their clothes. There is only a dirt floor.
Henry’s little brother is three years old. His grandmother has not yet enrolled him in the Compassion program. He is severely malnurished. This was the moment when I lost it today. I just couldn’t hold back the tears. I have never seen such poverty in my life. This is not the way any child should live. I told the grandma (through an interpreter) that if she would promise to get Henry’s little brother in the Compassion program, I would work to get him a sponsor. She said she kept “forgetting” to turn in the papers. After more questioning we found out that she had a first grade education and could not read or write. It’s amazing that Henry got enrolled in the program in the first place!
The family has to walk very far to get water in these buckets. The place where they can get water is only open for two hours once a week! They go and fill these buckets up and have to make the water last for a week.
This is the stove they sometimes cook on—it honestly didn’t look like it had been used in a long time. I asked what they eat and she said they have $2 a day to feed all 8 of them. Most of the time they have rice or beans. Many times they do not eat because they don’t have the money for food. The grandfather is a “builder” and he makes $60/month to support all 8 of them.
We prayed with the family before we left. This is Kathy holding the grandmother as we prayed. Only the grandmother is a believer in this family, but little Henry is learning about Jesus at the Compassion project.
What I am learning:
- For many of these children, the meal they get when they attend the Compassion project is their only meal of the day.
- The letters from the sponsors make such a difference to the children! Every home visit we’ve made, the child has shown us pictures and letters from their sponsors. The sponsors are the hands and feet of Jesus to them. They often call them their “angels”. The older children talked about how the letters speak “life” to them—it is someone who believes in them. If you sponsor a child, write to them and send them stickers and pictures—it means so much!
- The Compassion program is a Child Development Program. It is not a community development program. 83 cents of every dollar of the $32/month goes directly to the child to feed them, give them healthcare and immunizations, provide tutoring for their school work, and teach them about Jesus. We have seen children in the Compassion program and children who are not in the program and the difference is like night and day!
- Tonight we met graduates of the Compassion program. These young men and women were enrolled at an early age (5-10 years old). They were in the program until they were 18. Every one of them has now gone to university and all are the first in their family to do so! They are changing life for the next generation in their family. They all credit Compassion with giving them the tools and vision for life to be different for them.
- The gifts that sponsors give at birthdays, Christmas, and just because are so valuable for these kids. When gifts are received, a Compassion volunteer makes a home visit and asks what the child’s needs are. Then they go purchase whatever the child needs. A $25 gift will buy a pair of shoes or some clothes. A $100 gift can buy a bed, if a child is sleeping on the ground. Every graduate told us of the gifts they received throughout the years. They had a powerful impact on them.
Tomorrow is our last day. We will visit one last project. Today Kathy met Nelson–her sponsored child and we visited his home too. Tomorrow Megan will get to meet her sponsored child and we just found out that we will get to meet the child that Jeremy and Jill Tracy sponsor–Jeremy and Jill help make the Hearts at Home radio program happen! We will be hugging Ever and giving him some tangible gifts from Jill and Jeremy. And finally we will get to meet Erica’s sponsored child. Erica decided to sponsor a child several weeks before the trip. She’s 17 and has a part-time job and wants to do this on her own. I’d have to say I’m proud of her. We will get to meet her child tomorrow and visit her home.
I promise more pictures tomorrow. For now, please pray for children all over the world who have gone to bed hungry. Please pray for children who are sleeping on a dirt floor. Please pray for children who do not have access to clean water. Please pray for the Compassion teams at each project—they dearly love these children. And finally, please pray about what God wants you to do to make a difference in the life of a child…or a mom. When you and I sponsor a child, we are partnering with a mom to give her child an opportunity he or she would not have otherwise.