Saturday, November 21, 2009

day three.

sorry about the delay in posting. as it turns out, of all the things I could have contracted in Peru, I came home with what my doctor thinks is strep. Not sure how or where I got that, but I'm already feeling better than I was last night, so hopefully it's short-lived.

On Thursday, we got the opportunity to bookend the day with the bookends of the programs offered by Compassion International. We started the day heading out to one of the Project sites in Lima that has what's called a Child Survival Program. This program is offered to mother/child units instead of children. Everything Compassion does is very holistic in nature and this program is no exception, offering a wide range of care for pre-natal moms through moms with children up to about 4 years old, when they can begin to register for Child Sponsorship. These kiddos were outside the church when we arrived, anxious to greet us in their yellow Jesus shirts!

The home that I visited Thursday was the roughest of the trip, and belonged to a family with two children. The baby was sleeping when we got there so we didn't get to meet her, but her older brother Kevin, below, is 3. He's adorable and has been in the program since March. The Promoters with Compassion visit them in their home often and have provided some toys along with educational posters to put on their walls to help establish a corner of the home that's his 'play' area. As you can see, they also provide a poster with his name on it, which is very sweet.
So, as you can see if you look closely in the pic below, this home has a dirt floor. Most of the walls are made of cardboard, and the ceiling was made of sheets of plastic with what I presume was bamboo thicket on top of it. There IS electricity in the home if you can believe it, but the only thing this particular home had was a single florescent light hanging from the ceiling. The mom was incredibly grateful for our visit, and gave Spence and I beautiful crochet scarves that she had made as a token of her appreciation for our visit. unbelievable. Her husband lives there as well, but he leaves every day to work around 6a.m. and returns around 9p.m. He does odd jobs around the community as much as possible to provide for the family.
Little Kevin was a hoot. His favorite toy (he didn't have any toys at all until they joined the program) is a little xylophone that he loves to play while they sing songs. He's not much into singing :) but they're working on that. When they joined the Compassion project in March, he was only able to say 'mom' and 'dad.' Now he's able to communicate much more, and also can identify colors and numbers and shapes! If you'd like to pray for Kevin, his mom is most concerned about the fact that he's been falling and hurting himself a lot lately. You can see the cuts on his face in the pics above. Just to give you an idea of the environment around these hillside homes, I took some video of our trip back down the mountain after our home visit:

In stark contrast to the Child Survival Program, we were able to have dinner with some kids involved in the Leadership Development Program at Compassion on Thursday night. This was an unbelievable experience, as it points to the ultimate picture of success in Compassion's mission. Elizabeth, below, is just one example of this, and has been in the Compassion program since she was only 5 years old. She's bright, articulate, and is currently attending college studying Elementary Education. She'd like to be a 4th grade teacher when she graduates and hopes she will employed by the public school system in Peru, where she can affect change in the country and culture in which she lives for the better. Elizabeth was at my table, but all of the kids in the highly selective Leadership Development Program were inspiring to say the least. They represent what we all want for our children, and the vast effect Compassion can have on an individual life.

I can't tell you how much this trip has solidified my excitement about what Compassion International is able to do in the lives of these kids and their families. It's simply astounding how far they are able to stretch sponsorship dollars, and the trip was able to show me how the relationships established with sponsor families literally is able to transform these kids' lives--not only for their time here on Earth, but for eternity as well. They approach their mission holistically, releasing children from all kinds of poverty--emotional, physical, economical and spiritual. In addition--and this is my favorite part--they do it using the local church! On the entire trip, with visits to three different sites, I never saw even as much as a Compassion logo on a sign anywhere. The care, the supplies, the visits, the education, the food, it's all given to the children by the indigenous population in their community. We as sponsors provide the resources, but the local church is on the front lines. Awesome.

When we give our $$ to charitable organizations, I think our biggest fear is that we may never know how effectively our funds are being used to make an actual, palpable impact on the world. I don't know what else to say except that I saw it with my own eyes in Peru this week. I heard it with my own ears. I hugged these children, laughed with them, prayed with them. They dream dreams just like my own 6-year old does, and Compassion in an amazingly effective way, helps those dreams come true.

Needless to say, it was an amazing trip. One I will not soon forget. Thanks for listening.

Thinking about sponsoring a Compassion child?


1 comment:

Gary Durbin said...

Awesome...everyone needs to take a trip like this. We live in a bubble.