Maintaining Dignity

Hello everyone. My name is Rick Carter, and I work for Compassion in Asia as part of the communications team.

My team is responsible for bringing you the stories that talk about our child development centers in Asia, such as A Day in the Life of a Child Development Center Worker or A New Beginning for Eric, as well as hosting the sponsor tours that visit those same centers. So the fine line between educating the western world about the plight of the poor and exploiting the poor by profiting from their misery is something I have to consider everyday.

Stories like this one, which talk about the reaction of slum residents to Slumdog Millionaire, remind me how important it is for us to be sure that we are maintaining the dignity of our children, their families and their communities as we share their needs with you.

Rather than “shock and awe,” our hope is that our stories and your visits to our child development centers bring you “reality and relationship.” Sometimes the reality is shocking. Our children come from the poorest of poor situations. That is their reality. To get past the shock, we emphasize relationship.

With Compassion tours and visits, we try our best to avoid the “zoo experience” – just looking. We spend time at the child development centers doing activities and interacting with the children to help develop deep relationships.

Getting to know your child through the letters you exchange is so important to understanding his or her reality, but also in seeing them beyond their environment – Compassion-assisted children have hopes and dreams for the future.

I just wrote “Compassion-assisted children” because I realized I have been calling them “our children.” And that’s the key! That’s the way to stay on the right side of that fine line – between education and exploitation.

I know I speak for all of us in Compassion Asia when I say these are our kids and we will treat them as such.

I’ve lived in China for over 15 years. Very little I see in the slums shocks me. But I do still experience awe, and the awe is in how our church partners and you, as sponsors, are helping to lift children out of poverty. Thank you for what you do.

3 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Vicki Small February 2, 2009

    Agreed. There’s nothing like seeing the children in the projects, sharing their hugs, playing games and generally interacting with them to make the face of poverty starkly real. In that experience, they all become “our kids”; visiting our own sponsored kids makes that far more intensely real, personal, dynamic.

  2. Juli Jarvis February 2, 2009

    Very well put! I agree; Compassion is always so tender, thoughtful and careful about the dignity of the poor. I appreciate it so much. Those who have not been on a trip yet will just have to go sometime to see what we’re saying. It’s truly amazing–the balance and love and attention to each child and need. Thanks so much for writing.

  3. Michael Patterson February 2, 2009

    Well said, and a great follow up to yesterday’s topic. I have always been amazed by how Compassion’s staff handles these difficult situations. Compassion uses people who are from the countries where they work, who understand the culture. Sponsor tours are all about relationships. Education about poverty just happens with the experience.

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