Friday, June 21, 2013

Stories of Hope, Day 2 (Compassion International in Nicaragua)

Compassion trip to Nicaragua 2013
Compassion International photo, shared on Life in Grace on June 20, 2013

This kitchen belongs to Diana, Edie's sponsored child (Edie blogs at Life in Grace).

Diana lives in this house with her mother, father, and two sisters. Edie was especially impressed with Diana's father, who unlike many men, chooses to stay with his family.

Tragically, fathers in abject-poverty families often don't stay; the pressure is too great. They feel hopeless and too defeated to cope long-term.

Edie shares her impression of Diana's exceptional father:

From Edie at Life in Grace  From the moment I met him, I adored him. She is the first child I’ve met with a father in the house. And her father loves her. That does something permanent to a little girl’s heart. He works everyday, collecting and selling recycled trash, doing his best to support his wife and three daughters. He pilfers through junk and waste and brings it back to their home to clean it up and see what can be salvaged. I told him that I was so proud of him— for taking such good care of his family, for loving them enough to go to work for them everyday, for walking his daughters to school, and for saying yes when Compassion offered to enroll his daughters in the program. I thanked him for not giving up and for having the courage to stay.

Compassion trip to Nicaragua 2013
Compassion International Photo, shared on Life in Grace, June 20, 2013

When a child is registered at a Compassion center they receive food and money for school, even before they're chosen by a sponsor. Just being registered makes things immediately better for these families. Edie just recently sponsored Diana, so things will begin to improve even more for this family.

Edie shares this about Diana:

She lives in a ramshackle lean-to with no indoor plumbing and cardboard for a bed. But she is home. She is surrounded by parents who love her and who are giving all they have, day in, day out, against all odds. Their little shanty isn’t water proof and they hope that someday they will be able to do some repairs so that the girls don’t get wet when it rains. They have hopes and dreams, that it won’t always be like this. They want a better life for their girls but they are a family and we were so blessed by their commitment to each other.

Now that she knows, I'm sure Edie will send a family gift to have the roof repaired. Family gifts and birthday and Christmas gifts are not required from sponsors; they are money sent above and beyond the $38 a month it takes to sponsor a child. Family gifts can amount to no more than about $2000 a year, so as not to create dependency. Birthday and Christmas gifts are also limited, with a much lower cap.

But when sent, monetary gifts (you can't send material goods) change a child's circumstances in amazing ways. One of our correspondent children, Raphael in Burkina Faso, obtained a new roof with a family gift we sent in 2012. It wasn't much, but now there's no water leaking into the home, which is huge, as you might imagine.

A correspondent child, by the way, is a Compassion child you write to, but do not sponsor. Their own sponsor either won't write to them, or can't write, such as when a large company sponsors many children. We have two correspondent children and one sponsor child, but we love them the same, of course. Each has made our lives far richer.

Another of our correspondent children, Divya in India, received a birthday gift from her sponsor, with which they bought a water filter for clean drinking water. How huge is that? I believe such filters are about $50 each.

Compassion is involved in how gift money is spent, with the decisions being made after a home visit and assessesment of the family situation.

Our sponsored child, Nelson from El Salvador, usually buys food with our smaller gifts, but once they bought a large mattress, leading me to believe that perhaps they previously slept on cardboard or wood slates. Unfortunately, unless you visit your sponsored child, you never learn a great deal about their living situation. It isn't something they detail for you in their letters.

But most of the time, their circumstances look like what you see in these pictures, with Kenya and Haiti being perhaps the worst. Compassion children are all in abject-poverty situations.

Once Kristin Welsh of We Are That Family, after receiving an author's book advance from her publisher, sent $250 to all of her sponsored children. In Kenya, one of her sponsored children's family used the money to buy a booth and start a small-scale sundry-market business, leading to them eating more than one meal a day at home for the first time. Other families used the money for a goat or a cow, to provide milk for the family.

If you sponsor a child, God will provide you the money for gifts. Trust me on this. He only asks for your obedience.

Christy at Southern Plate shares her day-2 home visit experience:

We met a wonderful lady who lives with her aunt and three sisters. Together, they are raising 8 children who are incredibly well loved and taken care of. I’ve never seen kids with such manners and kindness. Daisy is a merchant by trade, packaging spices and seasonings into small bags each evening to go sell on the streets in the early hours of the morning. On very good days, she makes the equivalent of about $6.00 and then comes home to care for her children and nieces.

Despite Daisy's hard work, this family only gets one meal a day at home, prepared in the evening. The team also learned that Daisy struggled to pay school fees for 7-year-old Roxanna, who wants to be a doctor. Sometimes Roxanna had to take a month off school so the family could use the school-fee money for food.

Now, Compassion pays Roxanna's school fees.

 Kelly at Faithful Provisions shares this about Daisy and Roxanna:

How terrible would it be to have to make the choice between food on the table and an education for your children? An eduction that would end the cycle of poverty?

Guess what? Daisy no longer has to make that decision. Her prayers have been answered because someone said “yes”. Someone thousands of miles away listened to the call in their heart and said “yes”.

They sponsored Roxanna.

Since a sponsor said “yes” it has changed not only Roxanna’s life, it has changed her families life. She doesn’t just have hope, she has a fighting chance at becoming a doctor someday. Yes, that is what she told me she wants to be.

A doctor.

It’s hard to imagine that such a small sacrifice on my part, doing without fast food once a week, drinking coffee at home every now and then, just $38 a month, money that I may not even notice, can make the dreams of a child and a mother’s heart come true.

Christy at Southern Plate shares:

The pastor at the center we were at today said “Many countries just want to receive the fish. Here, we want to teach them to fish for themselves, that is what we are doing for these children when we educate them”

And that is what Compassion does. They nurture kids in more ways than one, but the goal is to nurture them as completely as we can.

There are four facets of nurturing that every sponsored child receives:

Social/Emotional nurturing – Compassion works to ensure children feel loved and valued by helping in many ways, such as offering therapy to the child if needed, and even helping adults in that child’s family learn to restore relationships.

Education - In many countries, education is very difficult to come by. In Nicaragua alone, 4 out of 5 children never go to school. This is mostly due to parents not being able to afford it. Compassion works to make sure children in the program receive an education. In fact, it is required that they be educated while in the program. They do this by providing money and supplies for school, school uniforms in countries that require them, tutoring, and in some cases even providing the school itself.

Physical - Compassion children receive healthcare, clean drinking water, and even nutritious food and nutrition education. Any one of these things would be considered a blessing beyond measure by one of these families so I can’t even imagine how grateful I’d be if I were a mother in these mother’s shoes and had this provided for my child.

Spiritual – We are all lost. Compassion makes sure every child in the program knows of the love of God for them and has an opportunity to choose to follow where He leads. Children are not required to become Christians to be a part of or remain in the program, but they live each day receiving all of these wonderful things and knowing it is in the name of God.

And that is what Compassion does with your sponsorship money of only $38 a month. The tear down walls separating these children from their dreams.

More stories of hope coming your way tomorrow....time for me to get a good night's sleep. These trips are exhausting from a blogging standpoint, but I wouldn't change a thing. I love Compassion International and I love sharing what happens when the Faithful show up and act like Jesus.

Hope is born, for just $38 a month.

Thank you for showing up. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sponsoring and spreading the word. And please, share stories in the comments about your own sponsor children and how they've blessed you.

Sponsor a child here.

Follow all the blog posts from the week's trip here.

View all the photos from the week here

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