“It is easy to get discouraged in a world full of evil, murders and lack of opportunity. It is easy to take our eyes off God and see our weakness and limitations. But with God, there are no limitations.” These are the wise words of 17-year-old Compassion student, Meryl. She’s our inspiration for these curated stories of courage and bravery from around the world.Continue Reading ›
One year ago, the world was riveted by the rescue story of the Wild Boars soccer team which was trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Twelve months later, Compassion-sponsored teen Adun, who played a role in the rescue, shares how life has changed for him.Continue Reading ›
The 12-boy soccer team and their coach that were rescued from the flooded cave in Thailand have headed home from the hospital! Learn more about Compassion-sponsored student Adun and hear from his parents as we continue to pray for their recovery.
Last year, you responded to disastrous flooding in Peru that affected hundreds of thousands of people. Because you acted quickly, thousands of children and their families have been aided to restore their homes and communities. Many of the children you helped want to share their stories with you.
“I was very scared because the water grew very fast. I took nine children with me and their moms. We don’t know how to swim, so we climbed on the roofs, saving our children first. It was a desperate moment because the help didn’t arrive and our children were crying. But I never lost my hope because my Almighty God is faithful and I knew He would come to rescue us,” says Compassion tutor, Noemi.
In episode four we find ourselves on the outskirts of Iloilo City, Philippines in the dumps of Calajonan. Sisters Florence and Hannah forage through garbage to earn (at most) $2.50 a day.
Every year, graduating Leadership Development Program (LDP) students in the Philippines go to work camp where they engage in community service. The yearly work camp usually engages students in missionary work to unreached tribal groups, but this year the students extended a helping hand to typhoon victims.
In a perfect world, here’s how the process would work:
Typhoon Ketsana, which struck the Philippines on September 26, damaged more than 1,500 homes of Compassion-assisted children and families, and nearly 20 student centers were affected by the storm.*
Ketsana hit the Philippines on a Saturday, the day when registered children gather at the student centers. But on September 26 not many arrived at Marikina Foursquare Student Center. Ketsana was already pounding hard.
However, some children did come.
Bernadette, the center director, fed them and instructed them to go home immediately. And as she planned to visit the homes of other children to give them some food because the floodwaters were rising fast, she was called by her own family. Her home was flooded too.
“What I have learned from this is not to look back on the possessions I lost, but rather focus on saving myself and my loved ones. On that day, I couldn’t attend to the needs of the children since my own home was in disarray.”
In the following days Bernadette reports that none of the children from her student center were hurt, although all of their homes were flooded, damaged in some way or destroyed completely.
The student center and its surrounding communities were completely submerged under water. And five days after the typhoon, homes and communities were still flooded, muddied, stinky and a mess.
Mirasol, a mother at the church, says,
“It is still a nightmare for me. I still vividly recall images of people being swept away by the water. I couldn’t sleep thinking that I was not able to help them as they were crying, as they were swept away towards the river. My child was crying the loudest, ‘Mother, Mother, the water is so high already!’”
Two of Mirasol’s children, Maribel and Dominic, are registered at the student center. They are safe but their home is still under water.
Miguel, another child from the student center, says he was so afraid because he got separated from his father when his father took his mother to safety first, but could not come back for Miguel and his younger brother because of the dangerously strong current.
Miguel and his brother were rescued by a neighbor, also a Compassion parent, as the boys jumped from roof to roof. They were reunited with their parents the next day at the church, but their tiny home was washed away completely.
Miguel’s father confesses,
“I pounded on my heart in anguish, crying. I was thinking of my boys all the time. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to look for them several times. I even waded back and forth in the water calling out for my sons.”
But despite the situation he and his family now find themselves in, Miguel’s father says,
“I won’t complain because I still have what truly matters.”
When natural disasters strike, Compassion’s Disaster Relief Fund provides sponsored children and their families with food, clothing and basic supplies to help rebuild their lives. Learn more about the Disaster Relief Fund.
*Editor’s note: In the wake of a disaster we contact each sponsor who has a child affected by that disaster. We do so once we receive details from the country office about the child. If your child was affected by either Typhoon Ketsana or Typhoon Parma, you will be contacted when we receive information about your child.
As you read this post, keep in mind what Haiti has recently experienced: Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna. Plus, Hurricane Ike is bringing more misery to the island as it moves past Haiti this weekend.
Government officials have declared a state of emergency and appealed to the international community for help because of the devastation the first three storms have wreaked.
And there are still two months left in the 2008 hurricane season.
I thought I saw devastation and despair in this year’s Iowa floods. And I did. But it got me thinking, “What is life like for a Compassion child living in a country affected by regular flooding?”
Have you ever considered how a child in a developing nation is affected by a natural disaster?
Let me tell you a little bit about flooding in one of our Compassion countries — Bangladesh.
- Thirty to seventy percent of the country floods each year due to monsoon rains and tropical storms. (1)
- The number one cause of death of children in Bangladesh is drowning. During heavy flooding, parents tie small children to rooftops with ropes or chains to keep them from slipping into the water while they go in search of food and aid. (2) (3)
- Farmers can easily lose an entire year’s income in a single flood. Two-thirds of Bangladeshis rely directly or indirectly on rice farming for their living. When there are no rice crops, there is no living. (4) (5)
- Families facing starvation often turn to money lenders called Mohajon for loans. The families are charged interest rates of up to 200 percent per year. When they cannot repay the loan, they lose the remainder of their possessions or are forced to work for free. Some families sell their children in exchange for food or money. (6) (7)
- Floodwater mixes with sewage that seeps out of latrines or sewers. With no other potable water, families have no choice but to use this water for drinking and boiling vegetables. Children in particular are vulnerable to diarrhea, respiratory diseases, typhoid and scabies. Children who are fortunate enough to be taken to a clinic may recover only to be sent back to the same conditions. Most don’t recover at all. (8) (9)
As a Compassion sponsor, I see a multitude of ways that a Compassion child development center could step in and save a family during such a crisis. Each center is a literal safety net for a child in times of flooding.
And think of what a family gift from a sponsor can do!
A Bangladeshi family could invest in flood-resistant rice, floating gardens, flood-resistant housing – all recent innovations denied to Bangladeshis living in poverty. A generous family gift could make a life-changing, life-saving purchase possible.
If you are thinking of sponsoring another child, (and I hope you are!), please take a look at the children of Bangladesh or other countries that face flooding each and every year.
Also, I would SO appreciate comments from those of you who have been to countries where flooding regularly occurs (e.g., Haiti, Mexico, Indonesia, Honduras and of course, Bangladesh) and seen the aftermath firsthand.
Perhaps you took a sponsor tour and can speak to the work Compassion is doing. Or perhaps you have sponsored children who have shared their experiences with you.
You are the mouthpiece for these people. Please speak up and tell us what you know.
How many disasters occur each year that we never hear about — that fly under our radar here in the U.S.?
Help educate us.
Early in the morning of June 11, after months of heavy precipitation, the Cedar River poured into the streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The water quickly swallowed the city.
- 1,300 city blocks disappeared.
- 24,000 people were evacuated.
- 83 of Iowa’s 99 counties were declared disaster areas.
- Nearly every river in Iowa flooded that week.
As I watched the floodwaters rise, my 4-year-old turned to me and said, “Mama, I think we need to get on the ark!” Had there been an ark in the vicinity, I may very well have gotten on it.
In the end, we Iowans are going to be just fine. The prayers of the nation have been with us, and we thank everyone for that. Help has arrived from all corners — from churches to government agencies. So many people have mobilized to get us back on our feet. We know it will be a slow process but, as a community whose roots are in farming, we have learned to be patient — patient with the growth of our crops, patient with the regrowth of our city.
But the impact of the floods on the world community is yet to come.
Iowa is the number one producer of corn and soybeans in the United States. It is estimated that 1.3 million acres of corn and 2 million acres of soybeans — roughly 16 percent of our grain crops were destroyed. (1) And this disaster is just one of many that decimated global crops in 2008.
So how does this impact the global food supply? In a nutshell, it means higher prices and a shrinking supply of food.
For countries in the developing world, this is a cataclysmic combination. In regions where people are already spending 80 percent of their salaries on food, the prices are going to get higher.
If 100 percent of a family’s income goes toward food, how then do they afford clothing, shelter, medical care and an education for their children?
And when the price of food eclipses what a family is able to earn, who in the family goes without? Parents, grandparents, children? How does one make such a decision?
As Thornton Wilder, the author of Our Town, once said: “I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for….”
We must stand together in the fight against poverty and hunger.
If you have a heart for flood victims, consider sponsoring a child in Haiti, Mexico, Bangladesh or Indonesia. These are countries that experience regular flooding, often with much loss of life, and an infrastructure that makes it difficult for families to recover.
You may also consider a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund. In the event of a natural disaster, Compassion provides food, blankets, shelter and replacement belongings to children and their families.
Please do what you can.
(1) Iowa State Farm Bureau