Today’s blog post is actually a double – two stories written by Leura Jones, a contributing writer for Compassion who describes herself as “a 30-something mom of four kids who suddenly finds herself unemployed and wondering what’s next.”
I Have Hope Now
Erina, a 32-year-old mother of five, used to ask God to kill her family all at once so that she would not die and leave her children to suffer alone. Three months after her youngest child, Ibrahim, was born, her husband left, taking two of their older children and most everything they owned.
“I would wash other people’s clothes or dig for food,” says the young Ugandan woman. “Sometimes our own clothes were not washed for a week because we had no soap. I couldn’t afford to buy firewood to cook our food. I had to walk 25 kilometers to look for firewood in the forest.”
But Erina has an aunt who encouraged her that God is good and will provide. When Erina looks at her baby boy, born healthy and with rarely even a cold, she believes this is true.
She had even more reason to believe when Ibrahim was chosen to be part of our Child Survival Program (CSP).
Through the program, Erina and her children received food, bedding, toys, and Christmas presents. Erina learned how to keep her home clean and healthy, feed her children nutritious meals, and to read and write. She is also able to earn reliable income by cooking for the church. And in April 2007, Erina gave her life to Christ.
“I have hope now. I am happy. I am alive and healthy. CSP has helped me with education, living with people peacefully, and starting up my own business so I am no longer helpless.”
She has also learned compassion for the suffering people around her.
“CSP fights for us. They check on us even though we are not home—they come back again. They don’t give up on us. This has helped me because now whatever I get, even though it is little, I can be compassionate to [others] who have nothing. I can help others as I have been helped.”
Ibrahim, now three, is thriving as well. Erina describes him as more intelligent and receptive than her other children because of the attention and help he has received.
When asked what he wants to do someday, the boy says he wants to be a doctor. His mother has confidence that because of his involvement with CSP, he will be able to attend school and achieve his goals.
Eager for the Future
Gobindopur is the last village in Bangladesh, separated from India by only a small river. Located ten hours from the capital city of Dhaka, Gobindopur is cut off from the health and educational resources that would offer its residents a brighter future. Though the people of Gobindopur have received temporary support from several relief agencies, no agency has stuck around long enough to offer the life-changing care this village so desperately needs.
In a culture where people live day by day, without any thought of the future, Compassion Bangladesh has set out to offer new hope.
Partnering with Garo Baptist Church, Compassion began investing in children like eight-year-old Selim. Like so many other children his age, Selim’s simple life consists of one meal a day and endless hours playing in a field.
Like his parents and grandparents before him, Selim knew nothing of regular medical check-ups or the opportunities of education. But when his parents signed him up for the Child Sponsorship Program, they changed Selim’s life.
For the first time, he had the opportunity to receive regular medical attention, to attend school, and to get extra coaching through the project to improve his learning.
“They gave me nice school dress and a new school bag.” Selim says. “I love to stay at the child development center!”
Selim and his classmates have also been introduced to Jesus for the first time. Learning Bible stories and memorizing Scripture has changed their attitudes and improved their behavior.
“We knew that education is essential for our child,” says Selim’s mother, Selina, “but we couldn’t afford his school fees.”
She is impressed not only with what he’s learning academically, “but he is also learning manners and getting healthier.”
At first, the Compassion child development center was received with skepticism and even disdain by the villagers. They were apprehensive about a Christian program run through a Christian church. But the activities and facilities—and especially the gentle behavior of the project staff—eventually won the people over. Parents who were initially uneasy with Compassion’s presence are now eagerly awaiting next season’s registration.
For now, it is easy to recognize the children who are part of the child sponsorship program. They are some of the first in their village to dream about the future. And they are the ones trudging through the mud, during the country’s notorious rainy season, eager to go to school and make that future happen.