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Would You Immerse Yourself in Extreme Poverty to Get a Job?

Posted By Becky Giovagnoni On October 6, 2009 @ 1:24 am In Children in Poverty | 14 Comments

Immersion experience You know when you go on a mission trip that is a completely life-changing experience, and you come back all fired up? You just stared injustice in the face and realized you can actually do something about it. Your life takes on new purpose. It’s like the small seed of justice that had been lying dormant within you suddenly bloomed, and you feel an almost uncontrollable urge to share your experience with others in a way that will make them understand what has to be done.

You know that feeling?

That’s the type of passion-driven person the Compassion Philippines office hires. And they’ve come up with a pretty unique way to find those people.

The Compassion Philippines hiring process is unique. As part of the final round of interviewing, each candidate is required to participate in an “immersion experience,” a process designed to look into the heart of the candidate.

The immersion experience requires the candidate to spend four days and three nights living with the family of a Compassion-assisted child. The location selected is usually among the worst of the slum areas.

The candidate stays with the family, eats what they eat, sleeps in their home, and remains in their community for the entire time.

After the stay, the family and the church partner write a review of the experience and provide input on how the candidate related to them in their poverty. If a candidate does not pass this review by the family and church partner, he or she will not be offered a job at Compassion Philippines.

Country Director Noel Pabiona explains that the purpose of this final step is to identify candidates who truly have a heart for serving Compassion-assisted children and church partners.

“A candidate may look perfect on paper or in office interviews, but you can’t fake it in the field.”

Program Communications Manager Wendy Sebastian spent her immersion experience with a family of seven children in a small slum home. She worked with the mother breaking large pieces of charcoal into smaller pieces to sell.

Wendy shares how that experience impacted her: “Chopping and re-packing coal with Anna helped me see firsthand the difficulty and health risks she encounters every day to net 40 to 80 pesos a day ($1-2). I felt compelled to do something beyond enjoying and maintaining my privileged life. This experienced confirmed that God purposely led me to Compassion to help build His kingdom agenda and I had to obey His calling.”

Along with the hiring process, Compassion Philippines office staff who do not spend time in the field are required to participate in an immersion experience every two years to keep them in touch with the children and partners they are serving.

Wow! Now that’s on-the-job training if I ever saw it.

Working at my desk thousands of miles away from those in the field, sometimes I catch myself losing track of the reality of the ministry we’re doing. It’s easy to get swept up in the mundane routine of my daily tasks.

A radical interview experience like those in the Philippines would surely sear into the mind of any potential employee the serious and life-altering impact of his or her job.


As I was writing this, I was also working with the Compassion Philippines staff in the wake of Typhoon Ketsana. Along with thousands of our children who have lost homes, some of our staff have lost everything as well.

If you are interested in more information on this disaster, visit its crisis page. And please remember that we will contact you directly if your child has been affected by the disaster.


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