We Are That Voice

group of eight smiling children

Thank God for giving us the opportunity to speak for the voiceless children of the world.

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Where Are They Now?

young man with beard and mustache

Though the degree of poverty varied and each family’s story was different, these people had one thing in common that day — they had hope. Hope that God heard their plea for help; hope that this would be the beginning of a brighter future for their children; and hope that the children they held in their arms would be sponsored.

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How I Came to Compassion

I believe all children growing up, regardless of which corner of the world they were born into, will always have a dream of what they want to be when they grow up. Some live their dream well; others are not lucky enough to live their dreams.

man holding a child, woman holding a baby and another child standingAs a child, I held onto my dream despite the glaring poverty that threatened to kill it. I dreamed I would be some sort of a great leader when I grew up. My parents always reminded me that it would be important to work hard in school and trust in God in order for my dreams to come true.

Childhood memories are still fresh in my mind. I grew up in a neighborhood of 10′ x 10′ shelters made out of sticks, mud walls and iron sheet roofs.

My father volunteered as a church planter in the slums while my mother made and sold African attire known as ‘Kitenge’ in a small market nearby.

I watched one of my sisters die at age 3. I was only about 4 years old then.

Many children die before the age of 5 in my community. Perhaps that explains why most parents have many children — they have to take chances because they aren’t sure which ones will make it.

I am one of five siblings that survived. My eldest sister is 32 years old and I am the second oldest. I have a younger sister who is 25 and a brother who is 24. My youngest sister is 19.

Infrastructure is a great challenge in my community. There are no nearby hospitals or schools, so we remained isolated from the rest of the world.

Without medical coverage, a hospital visit in the neighboring town reaps hefty hospital bills. It is particularly hard for parents who cannot find employment.

As a result, many parents avoid taking their children to hospital for fear of being detained in hospital if they can’t afford the fees.

Only in serious cases is anyone taken to hospital and, even then, transportation is a challenge. Some of them never make it in time and die on their way.

Bitter herbs are common for most illnesses, and as a kid I dreaded saying I was sick because it was hard to stomach the bitter herbs going down my throat.

Sanitation was and still remains a great challenge in Kibera.

Residents answer the call of nature in buckets in the comfort of their small houses and pack the waste in plastic bags, which they throw out of their windows at night. This practice led to the rise of a new term — “the flying toilets of Kibera.” Curfew hours begin at 8 p.m. in Kibera, and puu-puu begins flying through the windows.

My father believed that the reason he was living in abject poverty is because he never had the privilege of completing his high school education. He resolved to give his children good educations if he could.

My family eventually moved from Kibera to Dandora, about half an hour east of the city of Nairobi.

Dandora is known for being the largest dumping site in Kenya, where crime and all sorts of evil reigns. Dad relocated the family to Dandora because the government was setting up public schools there and he wanted us to be in a neighborhood with public schools.

When we moved to Dandora, I started schooling immediately. My dad, together with five other families, founded Dandora Baptist Church. (more…)

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man and woman sitting at table and talking outdoors

Historic Registration in Tanzania: The 50,000 Registered Child

Compassion International Tanzania (CIT) registered* its 50,000 child two months ago on Februray 16.

This historic registration ushered in a new era for us. It was a moment to put down our tools, celebrate the Lord’s favor, and thank Him for what he has done and for His faithfulness. It was a milestone for the Tanzanian ministry, an achievement worth celebrating.

Now let’s see how we reached the 50,000 child mark and also learn about how our child registration process works.

The milestone occurred in Tabora, more than 650 kilometers from Arusha, where the head office of CIT is located. But the search actually began months earlier.

Finding Church Partners

Before going into a new area, CIT conducts country mapping to determine the level of poverty in one area as compared to another. Country mapping is necessary so we can determine where the greatest ministry need is.

After country mapping, we conduct a baseline survey to determine if the areas identified with a high degree of poverty have Christian churches whose mission matches ours.

This is critical because we work through the local church — it is the local church that actually implements the program and cares for the children. If there is no church, our ministry model won’t work, regardless of the degree of poverty that exists there.

We ask questions, such as:

  • Does the church have classrooms to accommodate the children?
  • Do they have people who can teach and work with children or who can learn to assist children?
  • Are there peopleand children who can help the program continue?

This baseline survey helps us decide which areas and churches are a good fit. Of course, in all the stages we keep praying and asking God to lead us in the right path and to bring people who will be willing to sponsor children and release the resources needed.

After the baseline survey, we gather all the potential church partners for vision casting. In this gathering we share the importance of ministry to children and call on the church to awaken to the call of Jesus Christ to fulfill the Greatest Commandment.

After this, we choose the potential church partners and invite them to a partnership meeting. At this one-day meeting, it is time to pray together and for us to give relevant partnership documents to the new church partners.

If the partners agree on the conditions, they sign a partnership agreement with us. These partnership agreements give room to church partners to start preparing environments to begin the ministry. They start recruiting project workers and create a child ministry committee formed from church members.

The church has to find those able and qualified to work in the project as project coordinator, project accountant, project social worker, and project health worker.

Once all the project workers are chosen, they attend the “One-Month Child Ministry Foundation Course” that all project workers go through.

In this course, the newly recruited project workers are trained on how to implement the ministry and how to minister to each child individually.

They also learn what is expected of them and different ways and procedures of reporting and giving feedback to us. They get to know the organizational structure of CIT, the departments involved, and how each department works.

Screening and Registration

All this leads up to child screening and registration. (more…)

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