Incredible Facts About Compassion I Didn’t Know Before Interning Here

As a sponsor for three years and counting, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on Compassion’s mission and how it works to achieve that mission. But when I started working at Compassion as an intern this summer, I began to realize that there was still a lot I didn’t know! I have since learned several facts about Compassion’s ministry that I just wasn’t aware of before.

You probably know about Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program and how the organization connects children in poverty with local churches and individual sponsors. Each church partners with Compassion to provide classes for the sponsored children as well as extra meals, tutoring, a safe space to play and much more.

But did you know that a child’s journey with Compassion can start even before birth and extend past high school graduation? I didn’t!

Here is a timeline of what a child might experience during their time in Compassion’s program — with some details that were new to me!

Prenatal Care

Starting before a child is born, his or her mother can be enrolled in a Compassion program called the Survival Program to receive resources and education. A trained specialist visits each mom at home at least once a month to check on her health, address her immediate problems (such as malnutrition) and provide information on prenatal and newborn care.

Mothers also attend group classes for support and job training at a Compassion center that is also registered as a Survival center. When the time comes to give birth, moms are provided with a birth attendant and any needed medical care to ensure a safe delivery.

Warda, in a yellow scarf and green hat, is standing in front of laundry hanging on clotheslines outside her home.
Soon after Warda found out she was pregnant, she enrolled in the Survival Program at a church in Tanzania.

1 Month Old

At 1 month, a baby in Compassion’s Survival Program has received a care package with extra resources for that critical first year. All babies will also be regularly weighed and checked on throughout the next 11 months to make sure they stay healthy.

Moms in the program have the chance to learn job skills at their local church so they can take care of themselves and their children in the future.

Saida is wearing a red sweatshirt and black leggings. She is holding her baby, Salome, wearing a red outfit and is wrapped in a pink blanket. They are standing in front of a brick wall.

1 Year Old

By the time Compassion-assisted children turn 1 year old, they have received their recommended vaccinations. This is also the age they can be registered into the Child Sponsorship Program. As soon as a child is sponsored, they begin to exchange letters with their sponsor. Their parents will most likely be the ones actually writing the letters at first, depending on the child’s age. This is a great opportunity to get to know the sponsored child’s family!

As sponsored children get older, they will write their own letters with the help of a tutor, giving you the chance to develop a sweet relationship with the boy or girl you sponsor.

Fandy is sitting on his mother's lap. They are sitting in a wicker chair near a window.

5 Years Old

At age 5, a sponsored child attends the center four to eight hours a week. He or she receives love and care from tutors and the other volunteers at their church that implements Compassion’s program. Children are also getting nutritious meals, age-appropriate spiritual teaching, educational classes, basic medical care and much more!

Additionally, each sponsored child has access to resources for any ongoing or urgent need. This access is made possible by Compassion’s Critical Needs Fund and is given through the child’s local church. A child can receive anything from a new home after a natural disaster to clean water to surgery. For example, in the last fiscal year, Compassion provided over 200,000 sponsored children and their family members with antiretroviral therapy for HIV.

Aylin, wearing a pink shirt and tan jacket, Elian, wearing a blue jacket and black pants, and Leslie, wearing a pink jacket and gray pants, are standing in the field taking care of one of their calves.

12 Years Old

Beginning at age 12, a child can receive additional educational resources beyond the normal classes at the center. These extra resources are given through the Youth Development initiative, and they help young adults to prepare for a career after graduation or even to begin one before. Sponsored children and young adults can access vocational training, attend enrichment camps, obtain supplies to start businesses, get scholarships to college or seminary and more!

22 Years Old

This is the oldest age for a sponsored young adult to graduate. Centers host celebrations for their graduates, who may be anywhere from 18 to 22 years old depending on the country. Each graduate has been empowered through the love of their local church and a sponsor for decades at this point. They have heard the gospel and seen the church in action. Their urgent needs have been met, and they have spent up to 4,000 hours in the loving and safe environment of a local church. And with the benefit of job skills training and supplemental education, each graduate has a bright future to look forward to!

Esmeralda is wearing light blue scrubs, her nursing uniform and she is holding a stethoscope. She is standing in the doorway to her room.

Fulfilled Adult

Compassion graduates finish well. Afterward, they often move on to do amazing things that would not have been possible without their local church and the Child Sponsorship Program. Many have even become believers through the church in their time as a sponsored child! With their lives forever changed, these young adults have a great start to ending the cycle of poverty and hopelessness for themselves and their kids. They are often the ones who innovate and bring change to their own communities as a way to give back. (For some great examples, read these blog posts describing Compassion’s awesome alumni and how they have defeated poverty!)

Known, Loved and Connected

I hope this post has expanded your knowledge of Compassion International. But even beyond that, I hope you can see just how holistic Compassion’s care for children and young adults really is.

Throughout my internship, I have been so excited to fully understand these facts about Compassion that show the depth of Compassion’s investment in each child through the church, including the girl I sponsor in Guatemala. Genesis’ physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs are being met at each step in her sponsorship journey. She is being cared for at a level that helps her the most and that contributes to her long-term well-being.

From birth to graduation, every sponsored child — including Genesis — is known, loved and connected to this powerful network of local churches and sponsors!

International photography and reporting by Nico Benalcazar, Hutama Limarta, Yrahisa Mateo, Galia Oropeza and Daniel Robson.

8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Christie July 15, 2023

    I’m a new sponsor. I didn’t know much about Compassion until this year. I chose my first child in March, and I’ve added 3 more since. All are girls, ages 9-10, and located somewhere in Africa (I’m a girl mom, and have always found Africa fascinating). I love writing, so I signed up to be a correspondent. The correspondent child I was matched with is a teenage boy in Indonesia. I’m excited to broaden my horizons and get to know his country and culture, as well as figure out ways to pour into his life in ways meaningful to him. Compassion has made the world so much larger, and so much smaller, all at once. Thank you to everyone who plays a part in instrumenting this incredible mission.

    1. Nicole July 17, 2023

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing, Christie! 😊💛 Your joy in writing and getting to know the children you sponsor is contagious.

  2. Cheryl Kirk August 27, 2021

    Great article and comments. I have altogether sponsored four children. Two in Africa and two in Haiti

  3. Brenda Voort August 26, 2021

    That was a wonderful article and I am sure that I have heard a lot of that information, but it was good to see it in print. I have a 22 year old in Burkino Faso and I wonder what road he will follow. I have been sponsoring for close to 20 years and have had many children, I have 6 right now, that I write to and love to receive letters from. . What a wonderful sponsorship program.

    1. Grace August 26, 2021

      Brenda, we are so thankful that you have been a sponsor for so long! I just wanted to let you know that when the young adult you sponsor from Burkino Faso graduates from the program, you will have an opportunity to write a final letter and send them one last gift! This last letter is such a great opportunity to express how much you care and wish them well on their future plans. Sometimes children will also write one final letter telling you about their plans for the future, which can be really special. I hope this is an encouragement to you and we are so grateful for how you are blessing the lives of the 6 children you sponsor!

  4. Jenny August 26, 2021

    Great Post! I sponsor 11 children through Compassion from age 1 to age 14. It’s incredible to see their journey through their letters and through additional resources like this blog. I’m so thankful for Compassion and all they are doing for my kiddos. They are loving them in a way I can’t but I am providing materially so that the children can receive the love and care they deserve. I love writing letters to my kiddos and am thrilled when I receive one, though I never expect it. I wish I could visit all of my children!

    1. Grace August 26, 2021

      Jenny, we are so thankful for the impact you are having in the lives of these 11 children! We are so glad that you love writing them, and I am sure they are just as excited to receive your letters! We hope you get a chance to visit some of them soon!

  5. Madison August 26, 2021

    Great post! I sponsor two older girls: one is 22 and in the Leadership Development Program, so I’ve been sponsoring her past the typical graduation point where sponsor kids usually age-out. She’s planning to be an engineer and I’m sure she’ll make a great one!

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