Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Tribute: Compassion

First, before the Tribute, please make some time to stop over to the Marsh's blog or find this lovely family here on twitter. Their baby girl, Layla Grace, lost her battle with neuroblastoma at only two and a half this morning. They can use all the good thoughts in the world right now.

This month's Tuesday Tribute is for Compassion, Int.

It took until tonight for me to pick a cause for March, because so many great causes have just come to my attention.

But I chose Compassion because Jennifer, mostly known as "MckMama," is currently in Kenya blogging for Compassion with her husband, and it seemed like a great way to get more support for them.

Compassion is a fabulous child sponsorship program. Started in 1952, Compassion now helps more than a million children in 25 countries in Asia, Africa, South America, Central America and the Caribbean, and for $38 a month per child.

Those of you who have been hanging around here for awhile know that I am not a religious person. No, I am not. But, this organization is. Although I don't consider myself religious, I do think there is a certain strength that comes with religion that can't be found elsewhere--and that strength comes out heavily in charitable organizations. Especially when many of these kids really have nothing to hope for, it gives them the opportunity to have faith in something bigger than themselves.

The best thing about Compassion, in my opinion, is that the $38 a month is not just generically used. The money is put towards the things each individual child needs the most. If it's food, they get food. If it's shoes, they get shoes. If it's an education, then it's school. Each child is considered on an individual basis, and that is great.

Compassion's services span widely. They have a Child Survival Program, which starts before birth. They have the child sponsorship program, and then they have a Leadership Development Program. And the types of children Compassion sponsors also have a wide range, from birth through 21, children with disabilities, and children living with AIDS.

It's also great that Compassion allows for personal connections between the sponsored child and their sponsor. It's not a simple "send this money in and we'll send you info about what it's going towards," no. As a sponsor, you sponsor one child and you get to exchange letters and pictures with them and maybe even get the chance to visit them in their own country.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for children like these. But, you cannot understand how much your $38 a month impacts them until you are able to see first hand what their living conditions are really like.

I went to Kenya a couple years ago, and it changed the way I looked at the world completely. One day while we were there, we took the time to live the life of real Kenyans. We left our concrete-floor mudhut complete with actual cots and mosquito nets for the day, wrapped our shaws around us, and lived as a native for the entire day. We collected food to cook (kasaba) in the morning for lunch with the amazing Kenyan women, we followed the Kenyan men as they captured and killed a chicken for dinner, and then went hunting--although they scared away a DikDik and only managed to come home with a turtle, which we couldn't bring ourselves to eat so we let it go. We hiked down to the well with buckets, which we then filled with water and carried back on our heads. I had a 2-month-old baby boy strapped to my back as I helped make pine-thatching for the roof while the other women went to gather sticks for the fire, which they carried back on their heads. All the while sitting in a tiny pavilion area, next to the one-room homes that all of these amazing people made their lives in, and sleep on the floor of. A lot of times, these kids didn't even have shoes, which in Kenya is especially bad because they have these things called "jiggers" that get underneath toenails and multiple until the nail is lost. A simple pair of shoes helps these kids so much.

A lot of these things living conditions are common in all of the areas Compassion reaches. And a minimum of 80% of the money Compassion raises go directly to the kids, and that is wonderful. If you'd like to sponsor a child, check out the Sponsor a Child page at Compassion. They are doing amazing things.

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