In this message, Sidney Muisyo shares the importance of center directors in Compassion’s mission of releasing children from poverty. Sidney, originally from Kenya, serves as Senior Vice President of Global Program, leading Compassion’s program efforts worldwide.
Warm greetings! And thank you for this opportunity to share my heart with you about an essential part of Compassion’s ministry.
During the 17 years I have been in this organization, I have spoken with many people about what makes me confident in our approach to fighting poverty and developing children. As much as I believe in Compassion’s programs, I am often reminded that we cannot accomplish our mission alone.
First, we rely on God’s grace and favor over everything we do. But also, we look to the people He has given us to help in this work at our church partners. It takes many people to make Compassion’s program at the child development center successful, including volunteers, teachers, cooks and cleaning staff. But at the forefront are center directors. I would like to tell you more about them today.
Who Are the Center Directors?
A center director serves as the senior staff person at each and every church Compassion partners with. Their main task is to oversee the church’s ministry to children in their local community. They use resources from Compassion, their church and their community to create a center that ministers to the most impoverished children in their areas. They also choose and coach the staff and tutors who personally interact with children regularly. And they make sure the center is following the standards and guidelines proven to create the most successful outcomes in children.
As Compassion staff, we want to deeply understand the individual cultures, contexts and realities of the neighborhoods we work in. But from a distance, that can be almost impossible. That’s why we are so thankful for our center directors. Each center director serves as a liaison not only to church leadership but to the heart of the community where they serve. They alone are able to tell us about real, everyday challenges and advise us on the best ways to address them.
Today, I want to introduce you to three center directors and show you some of the strategic, innovative and caring ways they make such amazing partners with Compassion.
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Andres – Champion for Child Protection
The center director works to make sure the center is a place where each child and youth can be known, loved and protected. Andres, a Center Director in Bolivia, saw the rates of child abuse rising in his community. So he began a fight against this trend using help from experts, resources from the church and support from Compassion.
In some communities where physical and sexual violence is common, victims are less likely to report their abuse or talk about it with an adult or close friend. Andres works to make the Compassion center a safe place where both children and caregivers feel they can open up and talk about their situations.
“I always say that if at home they are not protected and at school, they are not protected, they will find that protection is here at the Compassion Center and church,” Andres says.
Andres and the other center staff work with Compassion and trusted legal organizations to seek justice for specific cases. They also provide psychologists to meet with victims and help begin the healing process.
The pastor of the church is another crucial ally for Andres. He addresses abuse from a biblical perspective with the congregation through workshops, education and discussion. Thanks to these efforts, many parents have committed to stopping the cycle of abuse in their homes. Some have even come to Christ through the experience.
Andres is a champion for the 500-plus children that come to the center – and his entire community.
Praxie – A Vision for Education
Praxie lives in the Philippines with a people group known as the Badjao. Traditionally, the Badjao were expert divers and fishers. But in modern times, the Badjao struggle with illiteracy and are considered by others as “uneducated beggars.” Families often move place to place, and children are expected to work and find money daily. This means they rarely attend school or often drop out after short amounts of time.
One church in the area called Hosanna Ministries is working to break this trend and bring education to Badjao children. As Center Director, Praxie has a heart and vision for the children and families in her community.
“My vision as director is to see the children get good education and graduate from college. We have entered this tribal community and given them a literacy program. We encourage the children to study, and now there are more Badjao children in the public elementary school than before.”
With Compassion’s help, the children receive uniforms, books and school supplies to help them attend school. Praxie and the other center staff also work with mothers, giving them hope and vision for what an education could do for their children.
Praxie is an example of how the center director can reach out to the neediest children in their communities and boldly lead initiatives to create positive change.
Jacky – Creative Solutions Impact the Whole Community
Jacky, a Center Director in Mulatsi, Uganda, discovered a serious issue in her community: Expensive feminine hygiene products made it difficult for young women to attend school and participate in everyday activities during their menstrual cycles. Many girls were forced to use alternatives that were not effective or sanitary.
“One woman said, we use newspapers; another, rugs; another, cloth from old blankets; and still another said they cut off part of an old mattress,” Jacky says.
Jacky had an idea. With Compassion’s help, she started a creative, sustainable activity to bring the community together and solve the problem. Jacky, along with other staff, learned to make reusable, inexpensive sanitary towels. Then they trained girls and their parents. But why stop there? Jacky wanted to share this knowledge with the whole community.
They visited schools and taught both boys and girls the techniques. Local leaders in the village and all churches in the parish learned to make the pads as well. Jacky and her team started a ripple effect that brought many men and women together to solve a common problem.
Will You Pray for Center Directors?
As you know, poverty is very complex. It’s easy to get discouraged or intimidated by the challenges it creates. But God has called us all to work together as one body, and Compassion knows we are stronger together. As Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Please join us in praying for the center directors across the world working every day to minister to children in some of the most challenging circumstances. Pray for your own sponsored child’s center director. Pray God would give them wisdom, strength and endurance as they work in your child’s community. And please pray for Compassion. May we learn to be better and better partners to the center directors and center staff who are on the front lines, serving people in poverty in Jesus’ name.
Reporting and photos by Junieth Dinarte, Edwin Estioko, Caroline Mwinemwesigwa and Galia Oropeza.