Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stick with it! Keep Going! And Never Give Up!

This past month in Sunday School the kids at my church have been learning about endurance. We had a cheer to help us remember what that meant. It goes “STICK with it! Keep going. And NEVER. GIVE. UP!”

As Compassion advocates sometimes our job can be hard. We can pray and pray and advocate for a child who has been waiting a long time for a sponsor and receive no response from family members or friends. Today I want to share with you a recent discouraging case related to child sponsorship and how God just turned it into an amazing success story!

I mentioned Alan in a blog post about 2 months ago. He is a sweet 8-year-old boy who lives in Ecuador with his stepfather, mother and 2 siblings. At the time I put his picture and information on my blog, he had been waiting 435 days for a sponsor. I shared his info on Facebook, Our Compassion, etc…nothing. I watched as this child waited 440, 450, 480, 500….500+ days for a sponsor. I wondered why no one was doing anything about it. Then, one of my friends on OurCompassion (a social networking site for Compassion sponsors and advocates all over the world) started helping me raise awareness about this boy who had been waiting so long for a sponsor. And today when I logged on she had commented on the post I made about him…she has decided to become his sponsor! Praise God! She couldn’t bear to see him wait so long, and now he will finally have the support and encouragement he needs. 

The point I’m trying to make with this story is that sometimes we feel like our advocating for children on Compassion’s website is pointless. Maybe no one comments on or “likes” their picture when we share it on Facebook. Maybe we feel like our posts and prayers about them are being ignored. But you never know who is seeing those pictures, who God is preparing to step in and help this child that He has laid on your heart to speak out for. We are helping make a difference in childrens’ lives for eternity. So stick with it, keep going, and never give up! 

I would like to introduce you to another little boy who has been waiting a long time for a sponsor:

This is Jose. He is 6 years old. His birthday is March 5. He lives in Bolivia with his father and mother. There are 5 kids in his family! His chores include running errands. In kindergarten his performance is average. For fun he enjoys playing with cars and playing ball games.

Could you be the answer to Jose's prayers for a sponsor? Click on this link to check out his information:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rosalie's Photo Update

I've had a lot of photo updates of my Compassion kids recently! The latest update is for Rosalie, my sponsored child in the Philippines. This isn't her first photo update, as she has been in Compassion's program since she was about 3 years old...but it's her first photo update with me as her sponsor! She is now 11 years old, turning 12 in October. She attends church, camp, and vacation Bible school. For fun she enjoys group games, playing house, rolling a hoop, walking, hide and seek, and running. Her chores include running errands, making beds, cleaning and child care. She must be taking care of someone else's children, because she is the youngest child in her family! Her performance in school is still below average and her best subject is writing. Hopefully that means she enjoys writing letters! Her mother is employed as a laundry woman and takes care of Rosalie and her 7 siblings. I have only received one letter from her so far but I hope I'll hear more from her soon :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make a Difference for One

The other day I was privileged to be able to see the African Children’s Choir perform in Saskatchewan. It was an amazing concert, just like I had expected it to be! Like many of our sponsored children, the kids in this choir live in extreme poverty. Many have lost one or both of their parents. And they get this incredible opportunity to travel the world sharing their stories and the hope and joy they have despite their circumstances because of what Jesus has done for them. The experiences they have while touring with the Choir are the beginning of equipping them to become leaders and make positive differences in their communities for years to come. 

Each child in this choir told the audience what they want to be when they grow up. They have big dreams! They want to be teachers, astronauts, lawyers, midwives, and so much more.

These kids, in many ways, remind me of my own sponsored children and the kids who are still waiting for sponsors through Compassion. I’m sure at one point in their lives, the Choir kids didn’t see much hope for their future. They probably thought that they were destined to be controlled by extreme poverty forever. But, at one point, someone came along and told them otherwise. They said “you matter! God loves you and has big plans for your life if you will follow Him!” They met their physical needs and shared with them the love that Jesus has for them. People on the other side of the world have partnered with this organization in so many ways to make sure even more children in Uganda have the opportunity to have a better future.

Today, not just in Africa but all over the world, there are children desperately waiting to have such a source of hope in their lives. They need to be told that poverty cannot define them. That there is more to life than what they see around them every day. That with God’s help, they can do big things! They need to know Him! So that they too can dream big: they can become lawyers, doctors, engineers, and whatever else God wants them to be! Some graduates from Compassion’s programs are already filling some of these roles in their own countries.

Today, would you make a difference in the life of one child? There are many ways to do so. Of course, the one I mention most frequently is child sponsorship through Compassion Canada or Compassion International. The African Children's Choir also has a sponsorship program of its own. The kids who tour with the Choir need sponsors, and so do many other children that are benefiting from this program!

Whichever way you choose, know that sponsorship is more than just sending money to a needy child every month. You have the chance to build a friendship with that child, pray for them, and give them the encouragement they so desperately need. It not only changes the child's changes yours as well!

Meeting Blanca, my sponsored child in Ecuador.

Some highlights from the concert.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sponsor Tips 101: Picture Update Day...For Me!

You know how excited we get when we receive updated pictures of our sponsored kids? How we post them online to show our friends? How we love to watch them grow and change through the years? Well guess what?

Our sponsored children love receiving pictures of us too! 

Have you ever sent an updated photo of yourself to your sponsored child? Or do they just have the one you sent them when you sponsored them however many years ago?

A few years ago I started a tradition of sending my Compassion kids an updated picture of myself every summer. Sure, they might not be the best pictures of me ever taken, but I know my kids will still love them. And just as we compare their pictures to see how they are growing and changing, I can even see some differences in my pictures I've sent them over the past couple of years!

Typically I like to do one in a similar pose to the pictures I receive of my sponsored kids, but you don't necessarily have to do that. And you know those cute poses some of the Bolivian kids are doing in their pictures now, waving their hands or doing a heart shape? We can send our kids fun pictures like that, too!

Want to send an updated picture to your Compassion kids but feel awkward having a picture taken of just yourself? No problem. I've got some suggestions you might find helpful. You could take an updated picture:
  • holding your sponsored child's photo
  • with a family pet
  • with a musical instrument or other item that is special to you
There are many other options as well. Be creative! 

You could also send your kids an updated picture of your entire family. I'm sure they'd love that as well!

So what are you waiting for? Take an updated picture for your sponsored child today!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Response Program in Action: Helping AIDS Orphans in Kenya

By now you probably know that Compassion has a Child Sponsorship Program to help children who are living in extreme poverty around the world. You probably even know someone who sponsors a child through Compassion or maybe even sponsor a child yourself. You might know that Compassion has a special program to help moms and babies during the first few critical years of a child’s life. And perhaps you also know that Compassion has a Leadership Development Program that some young adults get the opportunity to participate in after they graduate from the Child Sponsorship Program. But there is another significant part of Compassion’s ministry that does not get mentioned often. This is the Response Program.

What is the Response Program?

While children and their families benefit greatly from the Child Sponsorship Program, there are various costs associated with the challenges of living in poverty that sponsorship fees simply cannot cover on their own. These initiatives, also referred to as Complementary Interventions, meet the unique needs of Compassion-sponsored children and their communities. Some examples include covering the cost for major surgery, providing a community with clean water, providing parents with job training, providing immediate help in a crisis, providing a classroom building, and providing supplemental food.

Compassion Canada gives donors plenty of options if they wish to contribute to the Response Program. Right now donations can be made to meet urgent needs such as building a new home or providing the cost for a major surgery. You can also donate to the water category that helps provide clean water for people in various ways, or you can donate to skills training. Any amount of money given goes a long way!

When you donate to the Response Program, you will receive an update of what your money helped provide once that specific Complementary Intervention project has been completed.

Last year around this time I was able to make a small donation to a project that was going to help AIDS orphans in Kenya earn an income and be able to better provide for themselves. This week Compassion sent me a newsletter with an update of the completed project! This is what it said:

The green hills of Rawa in western Kenya are dotted with the mud homes of the Luo people. The people here are farmers, and nearly everyone lives on less than $1 a day. One of the most serious problems facing this community is the more than one in four people who are HIV-positive. Many children have been orphaned by AIDS and have no one to look after them. In fact, half of the orphans in Kenya live in this province.

In 2008, the local church worked with Compassion to open a cottage for six children who were orphaned by AIDS: Belinda, Rose, Dismus, Erick, Elizabeth and Richard. All these children were homeless. Four of them had been subjected to child labour and abuse. They found a home together in the cottage with an AIDS widow who had one child of her own, Noel Grace. She cares for them and raises them as her own. But with no way of supporting themselves, this family was completely dependent upon Compassion—until you equipped them with the tools to become independent.

Here’s what your support provided:

• A drip-irrigation greenhouse
• Facilities for a dairy operation
• 1.5 acres of land planted with napier grass for grazing the cattle
• Two cows
• Training on how to run these businesses.

The members of the church committee, the Compassion centre workers and the family have all worked together to make these projects successful, including things such as planting the grass and tomatoes, buying the cows and getting them vaccinated.

The Challenges

Starting a new business, especially in agriculture, presents many challenges. The greenhouse had to be moved to another location because the lease was not honoured. One of the cows died during transportation. And the first crop of tomatoes failed because of a blight. But the family is dedicated to making their businesses work, whatever challenges they face. They decided to replace the tomatoes with kale and are treating the soil in order to plant tomatoes in the future. The mothers in the Child Survival Program at this church heard about the cow that died and decided to generously donate a cow to the family.

The Impact
 These projects are still in their early stages, and it can take a long time for businesses like these to grow. But here is how the family is already benefitting:

• One of the dairy cows has given birth to a male calf, which will be sold.
• Since planting it in January, they have sold $18.80 worth of kale.
• Since January, the family has been eating $9.50 worth of kale every month.
• The dairy produces 230-400 litres of milk each month (depending on the season). Some of this goes to the family to drink. The rest is sold to a dairy cooperative, earning an average of $39 a month.

These activities have been a great learning opportunity for the youth who milk the cows and work in the greenhouse after school each day. As the family begins to earn more money and support itself, the Compassion centre will begin phasing out support, allowing the church to help even more children in need.

Belinda Awino, one of the children who has benefited from this Complementary Intervention, has this to say:

Before this project, I was very anxious about life and I lacked some basic commodities for sustenance. I was always unsettled when the school term began because I was not sure I would be able to get school fees and supplies. Through this intervention, I believe we will be able to meet our needs. I now have been able to live peacefully, enjoy the home and work hard at school. I actively attend the Compassion program and I am now very confident that all our needs will be taken care of. I am less stressed and can concentrate on my academics.

I can now lead a good life without the anxiety that has encumbered me. I believe that if I work hard I will be able to change the state of my family. I am also passionate about helping other children and young people in my community to live up to what God has ordained for them. I have also learned a lot from the income-generating activities. We were very actively involved in all the activities and I have learned a whole lot. I am confident that I will also do the activities when I leave the cottage so that I can teach others who are not in the cottage. I wish that God would bless you for helping us, and may you also help others who are needy.

Want to help children living in poverty but can’t afford to sponsor a child? Do you have 5, 10, or even 25 dollars to spare? Donate to Compassion’s ResponseProgram. The investment you make will be worth more than you could ever imagine!

***The pictures and update information used in this blog post was sent to me and is owned by Compassion Canada.