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Stephanie Harrison: On Travelling With Compassion

Posted By Compassion Australia On July 9, 2009 @ 1:10 am In Country Trips,Partners | 7 Comments

Stephanie Harrison Yesterday, I promised you some insights into Steph’s Compassion Traveller experience, so here you go. - Irene [3]

Steph in 30 seconds:

  • Age: 14 and a half
  • Siblings: I’m the eldest. I have a 13-year-old brother named James.
  • School: Year nine (third year in junior high school)
  • Pets: We have two cats: Maddison, a white tortoise-shell cross Persian, and Soots, a grey Persian cross something. Both are girls. They have completely different personalities and hate each other. We also have budgies, which we’re getting rid of.
  • Hobby: Netball. This is my seventh year playing in the district competition. I also take art lessons.


  • Quote: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can repeat it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.”
  • Book: The Tomorrow series by John Marsden
  • Film: The Notebook
  • Board game: Scrabble
  • Song: “Pray for Me” by Plumb

Steph’s Compassion Traveller experience:

Describe the trip in one sentence:

An amazing experience … I need to go back!

And at the moment I’m looking for a way to do it. No luck yet, but I’m sure my Lord will provide for me and something will come up. I can’t do it by myself.

Most memorable moment:

I met my family’s sponsored child in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her name is Kini.

Kini was born without pulmonary arteries, the arteries that go between her heart and her lungs.

My Dad sponsored her after his last visit in 2006, so we had been sponsoring her for 18 months when I met her.

The doctors thought Kini would die within months when my Dad first met her, but because of her sponsorship she receives regular treatment and still lives!

What did Kini say to you when you met her?

Because of you I’m now alive.

How was your relationship with your Dad during the trip?

Our relationship was stretched … He was very protective of me and I wanted to have my independence.

Dads with teenage daughters know that teenage girls are emotional. Add to that I was away from friends and family.

But despite everything, I was happy I got to spend that time with him and make those lasting memories.

Tell me about your most impacting day …

It was Sunday, 1 February, at the Kali Temple in Kolkata, on my fourth day in India. It was a crowded place. I think thousands of people were coming to worship their gods. They had sacrificed 130 goats that morning, and there were remnants of the sacrifice lying everywhere. It freaked me out a bit.

As we were walking in the alley after leaving the temple, I had one of the shopkeepers come and grab my arm and try to lead me away from the group. Being tense already, I freaked out.

The man then looked over my shoulder and saw one of the guys in the team standing right behind me. My friend then stepped forward and put his arm around my waist. Seeing him, the man then let go of my arm and slunk back into his shop. What scared me the most was that no one else in our group had noticed the man.

How has your trip influenced your school life?

I just started my first week at a new school. So far I’ve shared my travelling experience with friends as well as with my year nine class in my self-introduction.

My class mates were really responsive, and my friends have been positive, too -– they’ve asked questions about the trip.

How has this trip influenced your relationship with God?

I grew up in a Christian home and have believed in God since I was seven. But before the trip I was wondering “Who is God and what is He doing?”

In India, I saw a stark contrast between kids who were sponsored and kids who weren’t. Those who were sponsored weren’t as thin and were happier.

I also took lots of pictures of kids praying before their meals … These kids would’ve only known God for a short time, but they have changed.

It fascinates me what God can do in these children’s lives in such a short time. Seeing this has motivated me to walk closer with God.

Have you changed?

I look at the world differently. I’m more appreciative of … well … everything, really.

I compare things. Now I’m sitting in a nice cosy office with a shiny white board, but over in India and Bangladesh there are kids in the street picking up rubbish.

Seeing the state of these two countries broke my heart. Walking the streets, using the toilets, eating the food and most importantly, seeing the expressions and emotions on all the faces broke my heart.

I now find myself thinking of other people’s life stories, problems, daily battles and life-changing moments. I think of all the people that I pass driving to school … their stories and problems.

Then I think of all the ones that go unheard, unanswered and the new challenges they face every day just to survive.

Would you recommend a trip to others?

Yes. The country staff were very good. It’s a life-changing experience. So it’s not to be missed!

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[3] - Irene: http://blog.compassion.com/tag/irene-kao/

[4] Image: http://blog.compassion.com/children-and-poverty-do-they-mix/

[5] Image: http://blog.compassion.com/reflections-of-a-compassion-traveller-day-three/

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[7] Image: http://blog.compassion.com/rainwater-harvesting-brings-clean-water-gods-word/

[8] Image: http://blog.compassion.com/whats-it-like-to-meet-your-sponsored-child-for-the-first-time/

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