compassion international: releasing children from poverty in jesus' name

March 8, 2012

"indian school children
Yesterday, I shared about Ben's first meeting with our sponsored child, Rebatee, several weeks ago on his trip to India.

The day after meeting her for the first time, he was able to visit her again at the Compassion project. (You can see her in the back row against the wall with her arm up to her mouth and the two pink barrettes in her hair.)

You can see the children wearing their school uniforms and eating a meal together. Compassion works by empowering the local church in a community to care for the needs of its children. As a result, not all projects look the same.

Here, in Rebatee's community, the children receive one meal a day at the project.

Because these children are fed this meal, that is one less meal their parents have to provide, which frees up money for other things that they need. So sponsorship not only helps the individual child, but also the family as well.

I have a friend named Peter who grew up living on the streets in Uganda. He tells me that sometimes he only had one meal a day. And other times, only one meal every other day.

I love seeing this photograph and knowing that these children don't have to worry if they will have a meal each day!

The children you see above are in the Child Sponsorship Program--it's for school-aged children and if you've ever seen a child packet in your church or at an event, this is the program they are in.
indian mothers and children
Ben also had a chance to visit a Child Survival Program. This is different from the Sponsorship program in that it is for pregnant mothers and their children from birth to age 3.

Due to a lack of prenatal care and other aspects of living in poverty, infant mortality rates are high in these communities.

The Child Survival Program offers prenatal care for expecting mothers, nutritious foods and supplements, and infant survival training--basically, the things you need to know to take care of your baby and keep him or her healthy. It's also a support system, which as any mother knows, is so critical to navigating those first several years with a child.

I have one last story to share from Ben's trip. This was another texting conversation that we had one evening.

He was telling me about Rebatee's neighbors--a single mother with two daughters, 9 years old and 6 months. Her husband was abusive and abandoned her after their first child, but came back at some point and got her pregnant again. Because it was another girl, he became angry and threw the baby girl on the ground when she was just 42 days old.

The fall broke the baby's leg.

Now the father is gone again and the mother wakes up early and works every day while her older takes care of the baby until the school day begins.

As a father of two girls, this story saddened and angered him at the same time.

He was happy to tell me, though, that because both the mother and baby are in the Child Survival  Program, the baby received proper medical attention for her injury and is currently alert and active. He even got to hold her in his arms.

I'm now going to copy exactly what Ben wrote to me that night after he shared the details of this mother's story.

"I told her that I have two girls that mean the world to me and that even though not everyone appreciates girls the way that they should, girls are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and I wouldn't trade mine for boys if I had the chance."

Yes. I was crying when I read that.

And at that point, we lost our phone connection.

The next morning, he shared more of the story.

"It is worse than I could text," he said. "She has had to build her own house--it's about the size of our bedroom closet. Still not finished."

"They literally only have a few articles of clothing and a straw mat where they sleep. She said it gets cold at night especially during the rainy season when it leaks into the house."

"Can you get them some blankets?" I asked as I stared at the giant basket of blankets in our living room and thought of the 12 blankets Juliet has lining her closet floor in her little reading hide-away, not to mention all our beds and the linen closet packed so full it is overflowing.

'I'm going to the market today. I'll ask what is appropriate." he replied.

He did find them some blankets and brought them to their home later that day. But before he did, he visited with all the mothers in the CSP program in the photo above.

Here's what he said, "We met all the mothers at the church to start the day. They received their monthly supplies. I sat with them on the floor instead of in the back and pulled up pictures on my phone of us and the girls to show the two moms next to me.

All of a sudden it broke down all the walls.

They had huge smiles and passed my phone around--it was gone for like 15 minutes while every single person grabbed the phone to look at it--sometimes more than once. It was cool--I was really proud to have girls."

And I am really proud to have Ben. :)

If you are interested in learning more about Compassion or its various programs, I'd be happy to answer any questions. You can also check out their website here.

If you are already a sponsor, would you leave a comment and tell me which country your sponsored child lives in? I always love hearing about these beautiful children!

Thanks again for letting me share this with you. I promise I won't make you cry tomorrow, instead I have a great library list of some beautiful storybooks set in India

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