Can Technology Help in the Fight Against Poverty?

Microsoft and Compassion have partnered to create a groundbreaking app that may change how nonprofits fight poverty around the world!

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Technology in Developing Countries

How does my sponsored child’s family have cell phones, TVs or access to Facebook when they are struggling to meet basic needs? This is the kicker – the question I get over and over. The simple answer is that families in developing nations do not view cell phones and other technology as luxury items. They view technology as a needed tool for survival. And they can acquire these tools for much cheaper than we think.

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How 5 Girls Are Restoring Hope With an App to Fight FGM

Synthia, a 17-year-old Compassion-assisted student from Kenya, joined with four classmates to develop an app to end female genital mutilation – and won second place at Google’s 2017 Technovation Challenge.

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Looking up to Young People in the World

In this month’s “Totally Worth It,” we’re highlighting some technologies and stories that will remind you that young hearts and minds have the power to change the future of poverty in the world.

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One Step Forward: Computer Literacy in Ghana

Bringing technology to the town of Kpone through the Bethel Presby Child Development Center has brought much excitement. This community is taking one step forward out of poverty by learning the technology that is so prevalent in today’s world.

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Why Can’t I Communicate With My Sponsored Child Via Facebook?

Because we want you to have the best relationship possible with your sponsored child, and your questions are reasonable ones, we are currently considering a few technology-driven options to help you connect more directly with your child.

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Using Technology to Fight Poverty

So when you think Compassion International, the first thing you think is “technology” right?

What?!? You don’t?

Me neither. When I think of Compassion, I think of the three wonderful children my wife and I sponsor. I think about the first time I met Ana Maria, our little girl from the Dominican Republic. I think about the thousands of professions of faith Compassion reports each quarter and the amazing leaders emerging from our Leadership Development Program. I think about impact. About lives changed. About the chance we all have to eliminate poverty in my lifetime.

So yeah, I’ll admit it, I don’t think “technology” when I think Compassion. Not at first, even though I work in Information Technology (IT).

And that makes sense. Compassion is about releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. The goal of Information Technology is to support that goal, not replace it. Compassion has always expressed a great commitment to using technology in ways that support our mission, and the IT organization has enabled Compassion to fulfill its mission in countless ways.

And while that will continue to be true for many years to come, technology today is about so much more than servers and software and applications built by IT shops. In my opinion, technology in the 21st century is about community. About giving people a global voice. About connecting people across the city and across the globe. About enabling people to experience life lived beyond their borders.

Community. Now that’s right up Compassion’s alley.

And what amazes and inspires me the most about modern technology is how it enables you to do amazing things for Compassion and other causes around the world.

I look at Facebook, where Roderick Pitts, a student from Tupelo, Miss., created a cause page for Compassion. As of today, that cause has nearly 27,000 members and has raised almost $2,700 for Compassion. The cost to Compassion was zero, because Roderick found a way to use technology to fight poverty.

I look at the Uganda Blogging trip, now drawing to a close. Fifteen popular bloggers given an opportunity to see our work firsthand. These 15 individuals were changed by the experience to be sure, but their posts, pictures and videos have resulted in a change for thousands of their readers as well. Many of their readers have sponsored a child. Many now see poverty in a new light. Many will join Compassion to stand up and fight, because these 15 individuals found a way to use technology to fight poverty.

Compassion is by no means alone. Programs like One Laptop per Child (OLPC), Kiva.org and sites like Freerice are not just raising our awareness of global poverty, they are doing something more. They are doing something about global poverty by providing you and me with opportunities to join the fight.

And that’s how I look at my job in Compassion IT: using technology to fight poverty.

It’s a theme I am passionate about and one I hope to visit often as a contributor to this blog. But I need your help. I want us to dialogue together about technology and poverty. I want to hear your ideas and experiences.

Basically, I am asking for feedback, either in the comments of this post, or on your own blogs. How do you see technology being used to fight poverty? What ideas do you have for how Compassion can use technology to fight poverty? How do you use technology in your mission?

It’s a great time to be at Compassion. I’m looking forward to our dialogue.


Brandon Satrom is the Enterprise Applications Architect for Compassion. He works in IT evaluating both new and emerging technologies and helping Compassion IT make the best use of existing technologies.

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