Maila I’m willing to bet that every person, at some point during your involvement with Compassion, ponders some variation of the following question:

“Does Compassion’s ministry really work? Compassion knows how to share stories, but how do I know it’s actually making the difference they claim?”

Guess what? We’ve wondered the same thing. So 11 years ago we set out to get proof. We started a program called “It Works.” The idea behind this program was to provide undeniable evidence that Compassion is changing lives.

It Works documents the progress of children in Compassion’s programs. We choose our “case studies.” Then we interview, photograph and film the children and their families. Five to seven years later we return to see what God has done. Being 11 years into the program, we are now on our second round of return trips.

During last week’s chapel time we got to see this video and it was too exciting to keep to ourselves.

Meet Maila.



You can also view this video about Maila on YouTube.

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  1. Andrzej Gandecki
    May 17, 2008
    at 2:24 am

    Thank you for sharing the great story of Maila!

    Along with other stories this is really a proof that in some children’s lives we have helped to get the difference we strive for.

    However, I would like to know how many children have been included in the “case studies” for the “It Works” program AND how many (or what percentage) of them have life stories of success similar to Maila? How many have experience a lesser degree of success? And finally, how many did not experience any significat difference in their lives?

  2. May 17, 2008
    at 3:18 pm

    tried watching but said it was no longer available

  3. May 17, 2008
    at 5:20 pm

    Jason,

    Not sure what may have caused the problem. I just checked the video, and it’s working.

  4. May 17, 2008
    at 5:21 pm

    What an inspiring story! How can one see that precious smile and NOT get involved?

    Thank you for sharing this!

  5. May 17, 2008
    at 8:10 pm

    Great video – it’s so cool that Compassion was able to capture Maila’s story over the years. Will this be the first of many “It Works” videos?

  6. May 18, 2008
    at 5:39 am

    working for me now, great video

  7. Mary Possley
    May 18, 2008
    at 1:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing Maila’s story. Very inspiring. I know she will continue to learn, grow and share her talents with everyone she meets.

  8. May 18, 2008
    at 9:53 pm

    Really enjoyed the video!

    Two things I would be interested in knowing more about:

    1) As someone already asked, is Maila “typical” or the exception? Obviously, I think Compassion helps but I’d expect different kids have different results depending on their area, personality, other circumstances, etc.

    2) I was really confused why the language of instruction for her classes was English instead of Tagalog… I think it’s great for kids to learn several languages, but I worry about English, and consequently Euro/Euro-American culture being pushed on other countries, even if well-intentioned. Is English just the standard language of instruction in the Philippines at this pt? And if so, does Compassion think that’s good/bad/neutral?

  9. May 19, 2008
    at 12:01 pm

    Well that was awesome! Now off to spread (the video) around a bit!

  10. May 19, 2008
    at 1:29 pm

    Any idea why I might not see the video on this post? Under “Meet Maila” there is just blank white screen. Do you think I need to download something in order to see it?

    Thanks!

  11. May 19, 2008
    at 2:04 pm

    Jennie,
    You don’t have to download anything to view the video. Maybe it’s just extremely slow in loading for you. I just checked the video in Firefox and Internet Explorer, and it’s working properly.

  12. May 19, 2008
    at 2:07 pm

    In response to my own question about the language of instruction, here’s some info I got from a friend who’s done urban ministry in Manila:

    “I do know that all schools in the Philippines are taught in English. I think it happened when the US was occupying the Philippines after WWII. While I don’t necessarily agree with English being one of the main languages in the Philippines, I do think that Compassion should teach in English since all other schools in the Philippines are, however I would be curious as to whether or not the teachers there know Tagalog so that they can communicate with students and parents outside of the classroom, because Tagalog is spoken outside of the educational setting, especially in the more underprivileged areas.”

  13. May 19, 2008
    at 3:51 pm

    My wife trains Filipino nurses who are coming to America for nursing jobs (and the associated big pay increase). All the Filipinos already speak English because they are usually taught it in school (especially in the cities)… without their educational focus on English they wouldn’t have the great opportunity to come to the States to get better jobs in the first place.

    However, in the poorer, rural areas I don’t think there’s as much focus on English

    An associate of mine who is a missionary for Wycliffe Intl. was in the Philippines for a decade or so. I’ll have to ask him about it.

  14. May 19, 2008
    at 4:33 pm

    Just a note of clarification … the “proof” is purely anecdotal, not scientific. It Works is not and never has been a scientific study. The main goal is to provide anecdotal evidence where we can that what we are doing is making an impact. This is a key thing to remember, because we are not choosing children randomly nor are we tracking all children that we film.

    Andrzej and Ashleigh, in answer to your questions, since launching It Works we have filmed about 30-50 case studies per country. I can’t give you a percentage of success – we don’t track this because it is not a scientific study, and most of our stories are works in progress. Some of the children we film are not there when we return in 5 years because they have left the program for one reason or another.

    Maila is a good example of what can happen when a child has: a. a supportive and somewhat stable family; b. a quality Compassion project at a church that has a passion to minister to children; c. a child who has the drive and determination to make something of her life.

    There are so many factors/variables that go into a child’s development that it is hard to say what predicts a successful outcome or what causes one to be a success and not another.

  15. May 19, 2008
    at 7:03 pm

    @Becky

    Thanks for sharing that video. I just watched it again and it is a touching portrait of the impact Compassion has. I’m sure that through prayer and support there are many “Maila”‘s out there Compassion is positively impacting.

    I think stories like that are a great motivator for current and future sponsors. :-)

  16. May 19, 2008
    at 11:06 pm

    “Does Compassion ministry really work?”

    Yes, it does.

    I speak of myself as a once Compassion sponsored child. Not only the program helps children develop into a mature, dependent adults able to support themselves and help others, they become growing Christians influencing their world for Christ.

  17. Andrzej Gandecki
    May 20, 2008
    at 7:38 am

    Dear Becky,

    Thank you very much for replying to my question about numbers related with ‘It Works’.

    I have no doubts that Compassion sponsorships work. :)

    My question is this: Are we using our resources in the most effective way to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name?

    I’m asking this question on the basis of God’s Word:

    Eph 5:15-16 Common „Be careful, then, how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”

    I believe the application of these verses should involve not our time only, but all the resources at our disposal: money, people, etc.

    I would like to know, do you, at Compassion’s headquarters, have a method of measuring or assessing the effectiveness of Compassion’s work? If so, how do you do it?

    Could you share some recent results and/or some improvements or corrections that you made?

    My questions are not intended as a criticism. I would just like to know as much as possible about how Compassion works.

  18. May 20, 2008
    at 3:32 pm

    Andrzej be watching for a post soon that will hopefully answer a lot of these type of questions.

  19. Mike Stephens
    Jun 13, 2009
    at 4:00 pm

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

    The video was AWESOME!!!!!!! We just got back from a project visit yesterday and we played some games and I led some of the kids singing “AWESOME GOD” it was AWESOME. Especially the 7th time we were singing the chorus and the girls started swaying. As to the question about if the teachers know Tagalog and not English so they can communicate…all the teachers I saw can speak Tagalog and English with ease.

  20. Dwight
    Jun 14, 2009
    at 8:28 pm

    I have seen the video before but not seen the blog.
    I saw some questions’ relating to the fact the study is not scientific….
    Compassion does a good job at showing stories about successes. Has compassion ever done a scientific study to see if it works 50% of the time or 25% or 75%….?

    At one point in my life I was a member of willow creek community church outside of Chicago. I was a small group leader…but became frustrated with the lack to teaching… the leadership kept saying our system works… I finally left the church…. I was surprised and pleased that they finally did a comprehensive study and surprise surprise…what they preached and told other to do for years and years was really not that effective. The church had 20,000 people but was not really making mature believers.

    When I went on a sponsor tour I was surprised the center did not have an even distribution of kids in each class. If the program works then the number of kids in 1st grade should be about the same as the number of kids in 5th grade…10th grade. But that was not the case. So it tells me that many of the kids drop out before high school.
    The TV infomercial people always find someone that made a million dollars using the program they are selling but that is the exception not the rule.

    I am not trying to be critical but the willow creak factor makes me wonder… how do we really know if it works? The project director at one of the student centers said, when she was a child she tried to join the program but they told her she was too old. But she grew up to be the project director without the help of compassion. Children in the program drop out…it must not have worked for them or they would have found a way to say in the program. When my child was sent to the countryside to live with her grandparent they found a project to move her too.

    You said at the top “Does Compassion’s ministry really work? Compassion knows how to share stories, but how do I know it’s actually making the difference they claim?”
    The only logical conclusion I can come up with is you don’t really know if it works. You can only say it works for a small percentage of the 1 million students.

    My suggestion would be to do a case study of a few different project, tracking the number of students entering the program the number who get saved, the number who graduate and the number that continue to attend church after they graduate. Also see if you really have a correlation between children who get letters and children who do not.

  21. Jun 25, 2009
    at 9:56 am

    @Dwight – There are a lot of questions contained in what you wrote. I’ll try my best to address them for you.

    I saw some questions relating to the fact the study is not scientific.
    Compassion does a good job at showing stories about successes. Has compassion ever done a scientific study to see if it works 50% of the time or 25% or 75%….?

    Measuring success for our programs in a scientific way is very complicated since there are dozens of variables that affect a child’s development. It is difficult to isolate one thing and say, “This one thing made the difference.”

    So, the short answer is no, we do not have any global scientific research, at this time, that shows sponsorship works, which is why we have moved toward measuring outcomes.

    I wrote this post, Measurable Outcomes, in response to @Andrzej Gandecki.

    It briefly introduces you to the areas we will measure, for each of our programs, to determine if we’re successful.

    For child sponsorship, we’re successful when the children commit their lives to Christ, choose good health practices, are physically healthy, are motivated to learn new skills, demonstrate the skills to support themselves in the future and interact with others in healthy and compassionate ways.

    When I went on a sponsor tour I was surprised the center did not have an even distribution of kids in each class. If the program works then the number of kids in 1st grade should be about the same as the number of kids in 5th grade … 10th grade. But that was not the case. So it tells me that many of the kids drop out before high school.

    Some of the variables that determine whether a child remains in the program are that a caregiver may remove the child from the program for religious reasons or the child leaves the program because the family moves or places greater value on the child earning money.

    Leaving the program doesn’t mean the program wasn’t successful for that child, unless the measure is how many children “graduate” from the program. The child still has the knowledge gained from the time in the program.

    The project director at one of the student centers said, when she was a child she tried to join the program but they told her she was too old. But she grew up to be the project director without the help of compassion. Children in the program drop out … it must not have worked for them or they would have found a way to say in the program.

    It’s not really the child’s decision to stay in the program, as I mentioned above. But sometimes it is.

    All a child needs to escape poverty is an opportunity. And when opportunity is coupled with drive, skill and talent people like the director you mention can still succeed.

    An opportunity can present itself in many ways, one of them is our sponsorship program, but we’re not the only way.

    You said at the top “Does Compassion’s ministry really work? Compassion knows how to share stories, but how do I know it’s actually making the difference they claim?”
    The only logical conclusion I can come up with is you don’t really know if it works. You can only say it works for a small percentage of the 1 million students.

    My suggestion would be to do a case study of a few different project, tracking the number of students entering the program the number who get saved, the number who graduate and the number that continue to attend church after they graduate. Also see if you really have a correlation between children who get letters and children who do not.

    Some of the indicators we will look at when measuring the sponsorship outcomes I mentioned above include: experiences reduced incidence of illness and nutritional deficiencies, completes a primary education, learns and uses an income-generating skill and continues to practice spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, Bible study and worship).

    That’s not all of them, but hopefully it lets you know that we agree with you and we’re acting on it.

  22. Dwight
    Jun 25, 2009
    at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the response Chris.

    Personally I am comfortable with what compassion does and enjoy sponsorship. But I am a manager for a Christian media ministry. In the past we have promoted compassion but not for a few years…. I don’t make the final decision on this type of promotion but I struggle with… should I professionally push it…?

    If I bring it back up I will need to answer some questions…why compassion and not some other ministry….
    Thanks for your insight.

  23. Mike Stephens
    Jun 25, 2009
    at 9:27 pm

    I am currently in Operation: “Make it work!!!!!!!” Some things are just plain impossible to “make work” but I am amazed at what has been and can be done. I didn’t think I would even go to the Philippines…but guess what…I have already returned!!!!!!! If you want to visit your Compassion child my advice: P-R-A-Y!!!!!!!

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