Since November 2005, we have ministered in specialized ways to the needs of thousands of highly vulnerable children registered in church partner centers. We acknowledge that all children in our programs are vulnerable and face a certain degree of risk, some registered children face much greater risks than others.
Highly vulnerable children in our programs are those registered children who are at greatest risk of physical, psychological or social harm relative to the other registered children in the program.
Our Highly Vulnerable Children (HVC) initiative is therefore a targeted intervention, accessed through Complementary Intervention funds, that seeks to provide enough stability to the most vulnerable children to allow them to participate in the Child Sponsorship Program.
Prior to the HVC program being implemented in East Africa, we conducted a survey in all church partner programs worldwide, which revealed that tens of thousands of registered children have lost either one or both of their parents.
In some countries nearly half of these deaths are due to AIDS. Children are also at risk of abusive home environments, chronic illness, exploitation or extreme poverty. Whatever the cause, we recognize that for these children additional measures are necessary to protect and secure their well-being.
We currently utilize a wide range of approaches to respond to the needs of highly vulnerable children. From provision of nutritional support to children who do not have enough to eat, to reconstituting a family for those who have lost both parents and do not have a place to call home, each need is assessed thoroughly by local church partners and an appropriate response given. So far more than 10,000 children have been supported through the HVC initiative in East Africa alone.
Chantal, a 9-year-old girl from Rwanda, was one of the first recipients of the HVC program.
When she was selected as a beneficiary of the first Compassion cottage in Rwanda in March 2006, she and her elder sister Jackie had just lost both of their parents. They were living at the mercies of kind neighbors and strangers and on a daily basis moved from house to house seeking food and shelter for that night.
The risks and hardships that these two young children and many others in similar circumstances face everyday trying to make a living for themselves is unimaginable. It is for children such as Chantal and others living in such vulnerable conditions that the HVC initiative was designed.
The benefits of this initiative are already being seen and felt far and wide. As for Chantal, she is currently enjoying the warmth and protection of a new home, a new “mother” and new “brothers” and “sisters” in addition to her very own biological sister.
Impossible, one may think, and humanly speaking, a situation such as Chantal’s would have proved insurmountable. But thankfully, we serve a God who specializes in such impossibilities!
Please pray for the HVC program and the many children we assist who desperately need this additional assistance.