In the weeks and months before the new coronavirus started spreading outside China, sponsored children were already learning how to avoid it. It’s just the latest example of how Compassion’s program prepares children for a health crisis.
Our local church partners in 25 countries know better than anyone how to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their neighborhoods. By providing education, disaster relief and an established support system, these churches help ensure that crisis won’t drive vulnerable families into hopeless despair. And bolstering this entire care network are sponsors and donors who equip the churches to do their lifesaving work.
Equipped With Knowledge
Sponsorship provides children with education — one of the most important tools to prepare them for a crisis such as COVID-19. Our frontline church partners give informal and formal training to kids and their families about health threats.
For example, every sponsored child receives hygiene education. This may seem mundane compared with, say, delivering food to hungry families quarantined during COVID-19. But hygiene training is crucial in saving lives. Diarrheal disease is the second-leading cause of death in children under 5, says the World Health Organization. A significant number of these deaths could be prevented through safe drinking water, hand-washing with soap, and improved sanitation — all things that sponsors help provide.
In the sponsorship program, children also learn how to avoid ongoing health threats specific to their communities. So children living in sub-Saharan Africa learn that sleeping under a net treated with insecticide will help protect them from the mosquito that transmits malaria. Kids in the Philippines learn how to avoid illness and injury when tropical storms strike the islands.
Prepared for Disaster
But education alone doesn’t meet all the needs of children. Many of their families can’t afford supplies needed to stay healthy and safe, like food, medicine and hygiene supplies. Since Compassion’s program is holistic in its approach, sponsorship also helps meet physical needs — which increase significantly in times of health crisis.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen some amazing examples of how our church partners meet children’s physical needs through disaster relief. In Honduras, Compassion staff members went into neighborhoods to deliver groceries to quarantined families of sponsored children. When some were stopped by police, Compassion Honduras arranged a meeting with the country’s president, who granted them access. In Kenya, workers visited slums — where social distancing is practically impossible — to give families soap and show them how to turn a jerry can into a makeshift water faucet for hand-washing. We’re hearing similar stories every day from the 25 countries where Compassion works.
Other examples of how churches meet sponsored children’s physical needs during disasters include the provision of extra food rations during droughts, materials to rebuild homes destroyed in storms, medical care for injuries caused by earthquakes — and so many more cases specific to the diverse places children live.
Supported by a Community
Here’s the big picture of how sponsorship helps kids during crisis: They are part of a powerful support network through the global Church. Sponsors, donors and local church workers form a safety net that stretches across borders to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.
Fabiola’s family is an example of this. Her mother experienced domestic violence — made worse than usual by the pandemic because she couldn’t flee her home when her husband threatened to kill her. But now, the church has resettled the family in a safe home and is regularly offering them trauma counseling and prayer. It has connected Fabiola’s mom with other caregivers who have experienced domestic violence who are supporting and encouraging her.
Many kids who live in poverty will never know what it feels like to have such a support system. They will fall through the cracks. Through sponsorship, children get the chance to avoid that same fall because of the net beneath their feet. The net is always there — during the everyday crisis of poverty as well as the unexpected events like COVID-19 — bolstering children with access to education, relief supplies, spiritual support and love in action. There’s no better way to shepherd them through a crisis.
Thank you for sponsoring a child! Your support is more important than ever!
Reporting and photos by Tigist Gizachew, Isaac Ogila and Doreen Umutesi
8 Comments |Add a comment
I’m just confused and not trying to be judgmental here, so please don’t take offense. I have friends in Mexico so I was considering sponsoring a child from there, in honor of my friends. However, is it true that the children there do not receive any letters from their American sponsors? I read this somewhere, that due to COVID-19 restrictions they don’t send letters to Mexico. If so, then what is the point of sponsoring a child from Mexico at this time? Will the children in Mexico even know they have a sponsor? Is there any difference between being sponsored or not if you’re in Mexico as of today? Perhaps you can make this clear for others who want to sponsor a child. Perhaps you should remove the children of Mexico from your website if they are not benefiting from a sponsor, or make the disclaimer a lot more obvious. I compared what you had to say about Mexico to what you said about other countries an it seemed to me that Mexico was the only country where you can’t even send the kids a letter right now. But your organization seems to be so focused on communicating with the kids, and that this is an important part for them. That sounds like (unintentional, perhaps) conflicting information. Had I not read about how you currently do your work there, I would have chosen a child from Mexico. Now, I’m just not sure. I tend to do a lot of research on places I support. That’s just my personality. But perhaps not everyone looks into things like I do. Just a suggestion.
[2:49 PM] Amy Arnold
Melisa, thank you so much for your feedback! You are right that we do love letters to be flowing freely between sponsors and beneficiaries. It truly is a big part of our program that we value deeply. We have watched with great sadness as letters have not been able to be delivered in Mexico currently due to Covid-19 restrictions. We are praying and looking forward with great anticipation for the day when all the letters our amazing sponsors have written will be delivered to these precious children. Please know that the children are still benefiting from the sponsorship and do know they have a sponsor. They even know their sponsor’s name. Most of the development centers are making calls and home visits to check on the children and their families. And staff members have distributed nearly 441,000 food packs and almost 219,000 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to nearly 55,000 individuals. Please know we greatly value your feedback! If you have any other questions or concerns, please email us at [email protected].
The pandemic and its immediate effects are the primary focus during this time, and rightly so. The needs are urgent and time-sensitive. Yet there will be other disasters in the future, at all levels — from individual to global. I see sponsorship during this crisis being key not only for this crisis, but also for ones that haven’t yet happened. The knowledge, skills, habits, and resilience fostered now will continue having an impact as the children continue to grow and develop, and as they increasingly influence their communities in the future.
Hi I’m greetings in the name of Jesus Christ ,I’m Christian man please can you help me to support to assist me am poor man and come from at Tanzania now I have a foundation to start,al in all please help me
Hello Makura! Thank you for your message! Please send us an email at [email protected]. We are happy to speak with you further by email. Thank you!
I love Compassion and what it stands for – for children and families and Christ !!!!!???
question…are the sponsored children receiving our letters during this time?
Hi Patricia! That is a great question. With the temporary closure of most of our national offices, the delivery of letters between you and sponsored child will be delayed. You may continue to write your sponsored child, but please know that delivery of your letter will be delayed until our offices and child development centers are once again fully operational. If you do have any other questions about this, please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Blessings!