Editor’s Note: Every summer, 20 university students enroll in our 10 1/2-week internship program for the opportunity to gain professional experience within Compassion. This is just one of the many experiences from their country trip to Guatemala.
During one of my first days as the Child Advocacy intern, I watched this video from former Compassion International President Wess Stafford.
Years back, Wess had a dream about Compassion reaching 1 million of the 400 million children who live in extreme poverty around the world. But he heard God’s voice saying to him, “Is that it? What about all the rest of them?” This is the moment in which Wess realized that it’s going to take everybody to accomplish this huge goal, and it’s why Compassion now serves as an advocate for all children in extreme poverty, those both inside and outside of our program.
As I watched this video, I reflected on my time in Guatemala and the friendship I formed with a girl who is not in our program. During a church service, we wrote notes back and forth and she shared how her mom had left her behind and how her dad has not been in her life. My heart broke for Dairyn, who lives with her grandma and who has grown up grappling with the aftermath of abandonment by those who were supposed to care for her most — leaving her in poverty.
Getting to know Dairyn helped me understand why the Child Development Sponsorship Program is so powerful and effective. Putting a sponsor in relationship with a child who lives in poverty puts a face on poverty — a face we simply can’t ignore. It causes us to take action that we probably otherwise wouldn’t if it were faceless, anonymous poverty. This is the power of building relationships with those living in poverty: It stretches your heart and allows you to dream about what you are capable of, what you would be willing to sacrifice in order to help.
While Dairyn may not officially be in the Compassion program, she benefits from how her local community is being transformed through Compassion’s partnership with her local church. And though she doesn’t have a sponsor, she still has the relationship with those in her church who bring the unconditional love of Christ and words of truth into her life. And now she has me, in another part of the world, lifting her up in prayer.
It is Wess’ vision that gives me hope for Dairyn. She has people advocating on her behalf and on behalf of the millions of children who live in extreme poverty. We will not stop to look back at how much we’ve accomplished, but we look forward to how many more children still need the chains of poverty to be broken, the burden of poverty released from their spirits, and hope restored to their souls.
Veronica Fetzer is the Child Advocacy intern and recently graduated from Whitworth University with a degree in sociology. She is passionate about service and social justice, and in her free time she blogs about active compassion and encourages people to sponsor children through Compassion at fetzersisters.wordpress.com.
This is one of three stories from the 2014 Compassion summer interns.
Check out last week’s story from Kelly Uchiumi.