Josh Durias on Children in Poverty

We’d like to introduce you to Josh Durias and his photography.

Josh was born and raised in Seattle. He’s a father of two, and a husband to one.

We’re plagiarizing here … jes so ya know.

He’s a son of Philippine immigrants and grew up with his mother and father, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather, two aunts, four uncles and five cousins (among other houseguests) in the 18 years he spent at home.

He enjoys people. And likes to laugh … even courtesy laughs … ha ha. 🙂

We met Josh through this blog. He sent us an e-mail with some photos he took on a Compassion trip. They are stunning. See for yourself.

We also asked him to share a little bit about the trip to help put the photos in context. We hope you enjoy Josh’s perspective on children in poverty.

Gearing up for my Compassion trip to Ecuador, I told my wife, “Ya know? In some ways I might have more in common with the Compassion kids than with the folks I’m traveling with.”

She needed a bit more convincing.

I reminded her that my cousin was a Compassion child in the Philippines, my mother grew up in a poor farming community in Zamboanga, and many of my family members are still living in situations like the ones I’ll see on the trip.

“Wow,” she replied. “I hope people can see that in your photos.”

With that, my challenge was set: Tell the stories of these kids as if they were my own family.

Back in June, I traveled with a group of donors to Quito, Ecuador. The first stop was Bernabe Student Center for a Child Survival Program (CSP) presentation. This was the same center where I met Edison and Paula.

Edison and his family opened up their home for us to see what typical living arrangements look like in this area of Quito.

After lunch with the family, the highlight of the day was Edison’s birthday cake. No, it wasn’t his birthday, but for Edison’s first five birthdays his family didn’t have the funds for a birthday cake. So on that day, Compassion sponsored Edison’s very first birthday cake!

We encouraged him to “go for it,” but Edison wanted us to slice the cake up for everyone to enjoy.

When we returned to the center, a little girl named Paula waited anxiously for one of the families on the trip – her sponsor family. She was shy, but excited about the meeting. Her sponsor family greeted her with open arms and grins from ear to ear, but what really broke the ice were the gifts.

The family unveiled (among other things) a “Dora the Explorer” blanket. Paula loved Dora.

From that point on hugs, smiles and tears of joy were shared by everyone in the room. To think, this is just the start of years of support.

The last center we visited (Jesus Rey de Reyes Student Center) was located in Otavalo. Here we met Jessica and her family and spent much of the afternoon doing typical tasks around their home.

A few of the members on the trip tried their hand at picking corn. Others worked the wool that the family used in weaving belts that were sold at the market. Some of the most brilliant colors and intricate weaving I’ve ever seen!

On the flight home, I realized how thankful I am. I am thankful for an organization like Compassion whose sole purpose is to release children from poverty.

I am thankful that kids like Edison, Paula, Jessica and my cousin can be given hope in places where there may be no hope. And I am thankful that I, the son of a poor farmer’s daughter, get to share the story of kids growing up in his own mother’s shoes and sharing them through photography.

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Back From Colombia

I recently had the privilege of visiting my three correspondence children, a few children that I helped find sponsors for, and the sponsored child of my pastor in Colombia. It was a trip I will never forget (unless I get a serious bout of amnesia). (more…)

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Inside Uganda With Jessica Masanganzira

If you’ve been following our 15 Christian bloggers on their trip to Uganda you’ve seen only a glimpse of what it’s like to live in extreme poverty. It’s an outside view of Compassion’s ministry.

Today we begin a series of blog posts from staffers of Compassion Uganda who will give you an inside look into how Compassion’s ministry operates among the poorest of the poor.

What happens if a sponsored child needs an expensive operation? Or if his home is destroyed by a natural disaster? That’s where Compassion’s Complementary Intervention (CIV) program comes in.

CIV seeks to strengthen the ministry’s core programs by providing for needs that go above and beyond child sponsorship. CIV includes a number of ministry areas, including the AIDS Initiative, the Medical Fund, and Disaster Relief.

Jessica MasanganziraJessica Masanganzira is the CIV Administrator for Uganda, and she is able to daily provide for the needs of children and church partners in this poverty-stricken country.

I have seen many successes in the CIV program in Uganda. The water program, for one, has helped many communities here, and it has contributed a lot towards improving the health of the children and immediate families.

In the Mulatsi Child Development Center, for example, an average of 32 children each month had diarrhea infections and abdominal pains due to the consumption of contaminated water. After installation of the borehole (a kind of well), medical expenses reduced by 23 percent, distances children traveled to fetch water reduced from 5 to 2 kilometers, and their classroom grades improved by 13 percent to date.

Another CIV project that has had great success in Uganda has been the nutrition training we have provided for children and caregivers. As a result of poverty and low levels of education, inadequate feeding, and lack of knowledge on children’s nutritional requirements, there is a high rate of malnutrition among newly registered children.

On average, 28 percent of children are reported malnourished and yet Compassion cannot continually provide nutritional support for all. Some families can barely afford a single meal a day and only get a reasonable meal only on center days at the project. This was hindering health, social and emotional development.The practical nutrition trainings and demonstration projects have led to improved health among children.

In one of the benefiting projects, Kisoro Child Development Center, malnutrition has dropped to 12 from 68 cases in a period of one year. Children and caregivers learned the nutrition requirements for children, trained in modern farming and animal-rearing methods, food preservation and storage to cater for dry seasons; horticulture and fruit growing, too, have been promoted at the projects and in children’s families.

I pray that CIV will continue to eliminate key child development barriers for the families in our programs. As we are educating and helping children and families, I believe we are changing our whole country. CIV works!

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