From the outside looking in Back in May I published this photo and asked you to give it a caption — Photo Caption Wanted. I also included a little context from the photographer.

“Along the wall outside the Compassion project, many children watched and waited while the other children played and sang. With hundreds and thousands of children needing the hope that Compassion brings, our hearts broke to see the ones that could not be helped. Hundreds more are waiting for their chance to be sponsored, to be given hope, to be shown the love of Christ.” — scfish7

Then recently, I received the following e-mail.

“I read the blog about the children who are registered who are able to sing and enjoy meals while the unregistered ones just stare at them, wishing they were one of them. I have a hard time imagining what this is like.

“Is it like there is a ‘Century Fence,’ so to speak, that separates these two groups, where the unregistered look in and feel sad as they watch the sponsored eat hot meals and be carefree?

“Does this make them feel more unloved?

“Is it appropriate to send a picture or have one on this Web site so I can see what you are talking about? I have a hard time understanding this and maybe a picture would help.”

What are your thoughts? What do the children on the outside looking in feel?


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  1. Sarah Charles
    Jul 20, 2009
    at 5:10 am

    That is so sad. What can be done?

  2. Mike Stephens
    Jul 20, 2009
    at 7:38 am

    I think Jesus is Lord if you have clothes, no clothes, little food lots of food or no food. I have always had lots of food and lots of clothes. I am thankful Compassion gives me a simple way to share what I have with others.

  3. Janice
    Jul 20, 2009
    at 9:28 am

    We must ask ourselves, what is God calling us to do for these children? We must show compassion.

  4. Cheryl
    Jul 20, 2009
    at 9:48 am

    Wow! That is so sad. The only way to deal with this is to realize that if we weren’t helping those in the project, they would all be like the kids looking in.

  5. Jul 20, 2009
    at 11:28 am

    This breaks my heart.

  6. Cathy T.
    Jul 20, 2009
    at 3:54 pm

    It can be overwhelming when you see how big the need is . . . today we are helping over a million children and there are still so many more that need help. I have two little girls in Burkina Faso and this picture illustrates so clearly the difference my sponsorship makes for them – a safe place, with food, medical care, friendships and learning that they are loved (most of all by God).

  7. Jul 20, 2009
    at 7:34 pm

    Chris, I just returned from a trip to Tanzania. Our church partnered with Compassion. I started sponsoring a little boy while I was there. One of the toughest things to see was the children who were not part of the program standing on the “sidelines” watching us play with the other children. I wish you could see a picture that I took of a few children peeking through the bushes as we stepped off of our bus and greeted the Compassion children. As the days went on, the other children joined us and we were able to connect to them as well. One of my favorite little boys was a child who was not sponsored. His smile could light up the darkest of nights. One thing that I learned was that the more people sponsor children the more children can be brought into the program. I am committed to getting the word out as much as I can.
    Thanks for the post.

  8. Catherine Hilger
    Jul 21, 2009
    at 8:15 am

    On my first sponsor tour with Compassion I observed this heartbreaking truth. We had just stepped off the bus at a project in Fortaleza, Brazil. There were hundreds of children surrounding the bus and I just assumed these were all “Compassion” kids. After greeting the project staff, they ushered us into the project which had a six to eight foot cement wall around its parameter. Many of the children around the bus happily followed us into the project courtyard, but then I noticed a large number of them stayed back. I asked, “Why aren’t these children coming in?” The project worker said, “They are not in the program.” I was stunned. These kids had torn clothes and hunger in their eyes. They needed us jus as much as the happy bright-eyed kids welcomed into the project.
    After we entered the courtyard, the project staff and children put on a special musical and dance performance for us. While we were sitting there singing and praising God, I started to notice small rocks being thrown over the cement wall. They would hit us just hard enough to get our attention. I realized it was the children who weren’t in the program throwing the rocks. I don’t believe they were being malicous, it was a call for help. Each rock that came over the wall had a profound message as it was hurled – “Don’t forget me, I want to be chosen too. I want to be inside the wall having fun, receiving love, and singing about Jesus. Somebody chose me.”
    It’s really simple people, let’s each do our part. We can make a difference one child at a time, but we have to do our part.

  9. Jul 21, 2009
    at 9:45 am

    @Tracie Snipes – Would you share your photos with us in our Flickr group?

  10. Leanne
    Jul 21, 2009
    at 11:07 am

    Could it be that these kids are unsponsored, not because of the lack of sponsors, but the fact that their parents or guardians do not sign them up?

    The parents/guardian has to take the initiative right? Perhaps there is the matter of differering religions?

    I sponsor a little girl in BF who often writes me her mom is “afraid” and won’t allow her to go to Sunday School (but does allow her to go to the project during the week). I am suprised her mom even signed her up, but think she must have been desperate enough to do so in order to get her child’s basic needs met.

  11. Catherine Hilger
    Jul 21, 2009
    at 11:29 am

    Yes, the sad reality is that some parents won’t take the time to register their children or it’s because they have religous differences. I have heard project staff say those are sometimes the reasons children are not registered.
    There is also limited space at the project. The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few so to speak.
    More sponsors of currently unsponsored children means Compassion can open more projects.

  12. Barbara M.
    Jul 21, 2009
    at 12:22 pm

    I also wonder about the parents involvement with the children being allowed into the projects. A while back one of my Thailand boys was pulled out of the project and sent to live with an uncle who is a monk. Then just yesterday I received a note from another Thailand child that to honor his grandmother he also was going to a monastery. Two children, has anyone else had this experience with young boys from Thailand. I am sad now that they will also be on the outside looking in.

  13. Jul 21, 2009
    at 4:07 pm

    I will, I’ll work on that tonight!

  14. Mike Stephens
    Jul 21, 2009
    at 8:30 pm

    @Tracie Snipes

    Tracie,

    Congratulations on your trip, that is great to hear! That you were able to go. I am hoping to go to Tanzania next year to visit Bushiri who I sponsor. I am trying to take it in stride and not try to force this trip as I have on past trips which works but I want to relax and watch my prayers be answered, they were answered when I “forced” the trip which just means I said “I am going no matter what” which was good to make sure I went but I can relax and have just a strong of desire if not stronger to go to Tanzania through more prayer than just sitting around being determined.

  15. Mike Stephens
    Jul 21, 2009
    at 8:37 pm

    @Barbara M.

    That is interesting and amazing. I have not had any children pulled out of projects yet for moving, bad behavior, going to be monks, etc. however I do not sponsor any kids in Thailand. I was sort of amazed that none of mine seemed to had to leave which is great, but hearing so many people of having kids leave the projects for various reasons made me tend to think at some point at least one or a few of mine might move or stop going. That is yet another reason I am glad I have visited some of the kids I sponsor and makes me realize I need to visit the rest b/c some I have visited could very well leave the project but I would like to see them and them me to help them and me see the truth a little clearer and for mutual encouragement and joy. I used to think it was sort of impossible to visit your sponsor child then I visited. I used to think it was impossible to reach your dreams…still working on that one but hopefully some of my other goals will materialize. I think they already have I just need to do my part of actually carrying them out ;)

  16. Barbara M.
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 10:09 am

    @Tracie Snipes – Tracie, I also have a child in Tanzania and would love to see any videos or photos of your time and experiences while there. Is there anywhere I might find these? Thanks.

  17. Barbara M.
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 10:14 am

    @Mike Stephens – Mike, Thanks for your comments. It was a strange feeling to see a picture of my child standing in an orange monk’s robe with a shaved head. What to do? Pray. I think with all that we are hearing about children leaving projects for various reasons it is even more important to write, pray for and encourage them while we still have the opportunity to communicate with them. I always get a tight feeling in my stomach when I see 1-800-336-7676 on my caller I.D. Oh, please, not another one. It makes me more vigilant about writing as we never know when that call or letter may come.

  18. Ken M.
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 12:56 pm

    @Mike Stephens – It happens. I lost my first child from Colombia after 18 months of sponsorship. His family’s financial situation improved and his mother pulled him from Compassion. She felt another child should have the chance to benefit from Compassion. Then last August and September I lost 2 children from Brazil. The first one I lost after 8 months of sponsorship. His mother found employment and couldn’t get him to the project due to her work hours. She couldn’t find another person to take him. Then the following month I lost the next child after 2 months of sponsorship. His mother moved out of the project area. I feel the saddest for the child I lost from Brazil after 8 months of sponsorship. I pray that he is doing well so he isn’t on the outside looking in.

  19. Ali
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 1:27 pm

    Compassion sponsors over 1 million children . . . why not aim for another million?? ;)

  20. geri
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 6:12 pm

    @Barbara M.
    Barbara, nearly all boys in Thailand spend some time as a monk. Some will spend several years, some only a few months. It is a very common custom and many parents belive it helps the boys become more adult and less selfish. There is a good chance your boys may be back in the project some time in the future.
    Geri

  21. crystlgib
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 8:34 pm

    Hmmmm…am I the only one who noticed the Compassion children seem to be sharing with the other children? Just because not every child in a area is sponsored doesn’t mean that many of them are not touch through Compassion. We sponsors aren’t the only ones planting seeds.

  22. Ken M.
    Jul 22, 2009
    at 9:03 pm

    @Barbara M. – I get the same tight feeling when I receive a call from Compassion or a white envelope in the mail which includes the Compassion logo. I’ll even go into my online account to make sure my children’s pictures are still posted. I found out that I lost Milton from Brazil by going into my account to show my children’s pictures to a friend. I noticed that Milton’s picture wasn’t showing up when the day before it was. I called Compassion to ask about his picture not showing up in my account. That’s when they told me that he’s no longer enrolled and after they receive the oficial departure letter from his project, I would receive a copy of it. I received a copy a few days later and it took a long time to get over it. I still pray for him.

  23. Barbara M.
    Jul 23, 2009
    at 4:32 pm

    @Ken M. – Ken, That very same thing happened to me once. I went to my on-line account and one of my girl’s pictures was gone although her info was still there. I called Compassion and they told me what they told you. She is gone. It’s a sad way to find out. Now I find myself frequently checking my account just to make sure everyone is present and accounted for. It is hard to lose them and I am sorry for your loss of Milton. I am sure that once we lose a child none of us ever forget them and that they always remain in our prayers.

  24. Barbara M.
    Jul 23, 2009
    at 4:35 pm

    @geri – Geri, Thank you for your comment. I hope that my children return soon. It’s strange to read about him praying and attending the project and signing his letters”Love in Christ” and then see him in his monk’s robes. He was not smiling.

  25. Amy Wallace
    Jul 26, 2009
    at 10:59 pm

    @crystlgib – You are so right. It is sad to think of the children who aren’t a part of Compassion, but sponsored children are so excited about what they are learning and they share that with their family and friends. I witnessed this while in Colombia last week.

  26. Michelle
    Sep 17, 2009
    at 5:33 pm

    Oh how heart wrenching! The pictures make me want to cry….

  27. Kacey
    Jan 21, 2010
    at 9:06 pm

    It looks like the little guy “inside” is teaching the kids on the “outside”. That is my prayer for our Burkina Faso kiddo, that he would grow strong in the Lord and take his faith to his people and help them as only the indigenous people can. In the long term it is much more hopeful for all of them.

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