Letter from the Country Director of Haiti

This week, I’m sharing Haiti’s Country Director’s letter. I’ve only corresponded with Alex since April, my first child from Haiti, but I was thrilled to get to write to a child from there. I love learning more about Compassion Haiti’s ministry!

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“Dear Alisa, My name is Guilbaud Saint-Cyr, and I have been serving as the Compassion Haiti country director for 13 years now. The ministry of Compassion began in Haiti in 1968. The Lord has currently blessed us with more than 100,000 registered children in partnership with about 300 local churches.

We feel so grateful for the enthusiastic and generous contribution you have provided to Alex. Our committed sponsors enable children to have hope and a future, and to participate in effective programs designed to shape their lives so they can become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.

One vivid example is a young man who lived in the poverty of Solino, one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Haiti. One of five children in a family that struggled to meet their basic needs, he became a Compassion-sponsored child at an early age. Through the program, he had access to quality education, Bible training, medical and food support, and income-generating training. Eventually he attained a bachelor’s degree in administration in a prestigious university in Haiti and a master’s degree in discipleship from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Today, he is ministering to children in the community where he grew up, reaching out to gang members by modeling the way. He not only meets the needs of his nuclear family and extended family, but he also chose to sponsor two little boys through Compassion – one from his former child development center and another from Colombia.

We have several priorities for the coming year. As a strong and growing ministry in Haiti, we plan to reinforce our partnerships by equipping our church partners with new technology for timely processing and delivery of child information to sponsors, and by helping them serve more children. We are also considering partnership with new denominations in the regions we already operate in to serve the high volume of new children we foresee in the future.

We will continue to implement our WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) strategy, started a year ago, consisting of providing water, sanitation and hygiene services coupled with education and awareness training. We can save lives and enhance child development through WaSH initiatives. We are completing our pilot phase with 12 centers and can already see the great impact of the strategy. Our vision is to implement WaSH in all our centers throughout the country.

We are developing a new youth-development strategy to enable all our eligible high-finishing students to fulfill their inner calling and potential through higher education, and transition the current Leadership Development Program model to a broader, integrated approach under the responsibility of churches.

We are fighting tirelessly to eradicate poverty, this evil that takes away our precious children’s hope, dignity, and joy of living. We firmly believe that what happens in the life of a child ripples throughout their environment now and in the future. Each sponsor letter and word of encouragement has untold impact on a child and gives that child back hope, dignity and joy. Please write Alex as often as you can.

Please pray that God’s wisdom will lead us to be more effective in carrying out this ministry of releasing one child at a time from poverty in Jesus’ name. Changed environments may help children, but transformed children will inevitably change their environments. Let us continue to band together to make this happen for the glory of God.

All these great accomplishments and initiatives have been made possible because of wonderful sponsors like you. Thank you again for your partnership and for your commitment to Alex; this is a battle we can’t win without you.

In Jesus, Guilbaud Saint-Cyr”

Letter from the Country Director of Uganda

I am sharing the Country Director letter from Uganda this week. I correspond with Mugisha there.

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“Dear Alisa, I am Lenny Mugisha; I have been the country director of Compassion Uganda for two years, and I have worked with Compassion International for seven years. Compassion has operated in Uganda for the past 36 years. We currently have more than 340 child development centers serving 93,500 children in the most impoverished areas within our reach across the country.

Thank you for loving, praying and caring for Mugisha Isaac. We appreciate your continued support.

These have been years of great achievement in the lives of children. Children have accepted Jesus as their Savior, acquired income-generating and life skills, studied, and graduated. They receive health care, education opportunities, and a safe environment to play in and relate to their peers.

Many children and families here lack food and clean water, decent shelter, clothing and health care. They face obstacles like child marriage, child trafficking, physical abuse, violence, HIV/AIDS, and more. In 2017, our plan is to work closely with church partners to register more children from highly impoverished areas in unreached communities, minister to them early enough, and help them finish well to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.

One child suffered from malaria from the age of 3. Each time he fell sick, his grandmother carried him to a local government hospital. Sometimes there wasn’t even a doctor or nurse available to see the child. Often he was discharged with nothing but a prescription for the grandmother to buy medicine – but she couldn’t afford it. The malaria attacks intensified, and the boy contracted epilepsy. His grandmother stopped him from going to school because she feared what would happen. Her grandson lost weight and became weak.

Four months after registering with Compassion, the boy lost consciousness because of malaria. His grandmother rushed him to a different hospital, where the sponsorship program enabled him to go. The child received treatment, since the drugs were available, and he recovered faster than usual. In addition to medical intervention, he received food support that helped restore his health. This child could have been dead by now, but he isn’t. Instead, he plays and dreams and attends school without fear. Because of the Compassion center, his life was saved.

In addition to implementing Compassion’s programs, church partners respond to their communities’ needs through evangelism, discipleship, savings programs, vocational training, special events, and ministry to those in need. Other churches also mobilize community-development programs, such as building water sources and roads and health and parenting education. The church usually spearheads such ventures due to its good reputation in the community.

Children who receive letters from their sponsors know they have a friend who loves them and cares about them. They look forward to writing to their sponsors. Children who do not receive letters feel that their sponsors do not love them, and they go back home sad. Children value and believe each message their sponsor writes to them, and their attitude toward life is positively influenced by what their sponsors say. They feel valued, especially when their sponsor wishes them a happy birthday. They are encouraged to work hard at school. They look at their sponsors as role models. Please write to your child as often as you can.

Please pray for the children in the program in Uganda who have not yet got sponsors, and for each child in the program to be released from all forms of poverty. We love you and pray for you always.

Once again, thank you so much for investing in the life of Mugisha. May the Lord bless you abundantly.

Faithfully, Lenny Mugisha”

Letter from the Country Director of Brazil

This week, I’m sharing the Country Director letter from Brazil. This letter comes from Jose Carrasco again, remember, he’s a very busy man! I correspond with Rikelme in Brazil.

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“Dear Alisa, Greetings in Jesus’ name! My name is Jose Carrasco. I am the South America area director, and I’ve been privileged to serve as the interim country director of Brazil since 2014. I was born in Peru. I have a wife and two wonderful children.

I am proud to tell you that Compassion has been serving Brazil for 29 years. We currently have about 185 child development centers in Brazil, and we are serving more than 43,000 children. The impact of Compassion’s holistic program in the life of a child is huge. We would not be able to reach all these wonderful children without sponsors’ generous and selfless giving. You have made it possible for Rikelme to receive love, care, nurture and support through your sponsorship and your prayers. You truly are making the difference in your child. Thank you so much for your support!

A sponsored child has a safe place to go each day and is taught about the love of Jesus. At the centers, children have the opportunity to identify their strengths, develop their gifts and talents, and overcome difficulties. They learn that they are special because they are children of God.

Allow me to share just some of the struggles we face daily. Compassion serves the most impoverished children in Brazil, and their families. There are high rates of childhood sickness and even death. Many children face violence; many come from broken homes. They also face financial crisis. Widespread unemployment and the high cost of living make life increasingly difficult for those who live with few resources. Lack of water and access to good medical care are common. Hospitals lack the medicine and equipment needed to serve their communities.

The coming year brings many challenges, but by God’s grace, we will continue to go forward and face these struggles. Compassion Brazil has improved its program and materials to better empower the churches to fulfill their mission. We are encouraged by the willingness of the churches to work hard and diligently to better serve the children through training, facilitation visits, materials and local mobilization.

Compassion Brazil has excellent plans in place to develop child protection networks and early childhood and youth development strategies. It is possible to change the lives of more children and help them to become strong and productive Christian adults. We have seen it so many times!

Nourishing the relationship between the sponsor and the child is critical. I encourage you to write letters. When a child receives a letter, it’s like receiving a special gift. It means so much to a child. Your words really encourage and nurture your child positively. Children feel loved and appreciated when they know someone far away is praying and thinking about them.

There are no words to express the gratitude that my heart feels for your sponsorship for Rikelme. Your giving has changed the destiny of your child, and that is priceless! I gladly express my appreciation for your generous giving. May the Lord bless you and your family. Please pray for us; we promise also to pray for you.

Sincerely in Christ,  Jose Carrasco”

Photo Friday

I’m happy to have a few new photos of some of my Honduran kids to share on this Photo Friday!

When looking back through old Manna 4 Lempira videos, I found Cristian making silly faces in one! I think this video came out before I sponsored him, and I never went back and watched it until now. Here are a few screenshots:

Also from Manna 4 Lempira, I got to see some new photos of Junior. Never one to shy away from a camera, Junior always seems to find himself in front of it!

Here he is on the right with family, as they opened letters received:

And here he is getting his medical check up when the team visited during the summer. What’s cool is that I also have photos from his medical check up last year, too!

 

Letter from Albia

I received my very favorite first letter ever, because there was so much love pouring from this sweet family! I sponsored adorable little Albia back in August and even though I feel in love with her instantly, my connection to her now feels so much stronger thanks to a letter from her, a letter from her mom, and photos! These extra touches are rare and unexpected, but it means so much towards building the relationship further.

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Albia is 5 and lives in the Philippines.

Albia’s letter uses the introductory About Me template. I learned that she is 103 cm tall (3’4″), she has two siblings and is the middle child, and her shoe size is 27. One thing she does really well is singing, and her favorite part of her body is her hair. She is medium in build. It says “Dear Ms. Alisa, Thank you so much for the letter and for choosing me. I am now in Kinder II. Love, Albia”

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Such a cute little drawing! And here are the extra photos her family sent! This is the first time that I’ve received extra photos that weren’t for a gift. I love getting to see her parents and sisters and a glimpse of their house. I wouldn’t have been able to see any of this otherwise!

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And her mother wrote a whole letter on her own too, which is also a first for me! It really made me connect with her in a greater way than I’m usually able to connect with parents of my sponsored children. Her love of and pride for her family is evident.

“Hello Ms. Alisa! Good day to you. I am Benia, mother of Albia. I am glad to know you. I am thankful that you’re the sponsor (Albia’s sponsor); like you we also wanted to know more. Albia’s favorite color is orange. We also have a pet- a cat named Coorkie. Albia is now in Kindergarten. In the future she also wants to be a teacher like you. She also likes to teach other children how to write, to draw, to color, and how to sing. We sent some photos of our family and Albia, too! Our family is thankful because Albia has a sponsor like you. May God bless you and your family for being a channel of blessing to others who are in need. God Bless! Respectfully yours, Benia”

Letter from the Country Director of El Salvador

This week, I’m sharing the Country Director letter from El Salvador. This is where Lucia lives.

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“Dear Alisa, My name is Guillermo Muñoz. God has blessed me since 2004, when I became the country director of this wonderful ministry. Everything we do helps the most marginalized, the most forgotten, and the most underestimated by our society: children in poverty.

Thank you for joining us in our fight against poverty and hopelessness. Your love, support and faithfulness to Lucia make an eternal difference. I know sponsorship works. Compassion began working in El Salvador in 1977. We work with about 250 church partners, serving more than 60,000 children. Poverty hurts so deeply, and in the child development centers, children receive encouragement, vision, healthy food, medical treatment, vocational training, protection, and the love of God.

El Salvador has gone through decades of militarism and civil war. Now, in the post-war period, more than 45 percent of the population lives in poverty. More than 20 percent of children under five suffer stunted growth. Our country has a low-quality public education system and low attendance due to violence. Also, more than 95 percent of the population lives in territory at risk from floods, mudslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tropical storms. Finally, our children live in one of the most violent countries in the world.

Poverty tells our children there is no hope, no opportunity to have an education. They become targets of the gangs and never learn their identity in Christ. Amid these struggles, we find the local church that has the vision, passion, heart and unlimited love that only come from God. Our vision is to continue giving children the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God created them to be. We provide programs focused on preventing children’s involvement in violence, helping them discover their potential skills and talents, and opening opportunities for academic reinforcement workshops and nonformal education.

One example of transformational impact is one of our pastors, who is so passionate and willing to work with the gangs. He just sits with them, sharing a meal, showing the love of Jesus, and telling them there is hope no matter who you are. Many gang members have surrendered their lives to Jesus, and they send their children to the Compassion center. Now this new generation will not be the same, because they have hope! They are building an eternal relationship with God.

Talking about relationship, the connection children have with their sponsors through letters is so valuable, because they feel loved, appreciated and encouraged. I consider the loneliness of a 13-year-old boy who doesn’t have siblings; his mom passed away, and his dad is in prison. His sponsors (a married couple) made him feel like family despite the long distance between them. Their kind, loving words in letters encourage and bring him hope. This boy wants to be a civil engineer because his life was changed through letters from his sponsors.

We believe in a better future where children can overcome poverty. We plant seeds of hope in each of them, and you are part of this through your constant care for Lucia. I want to express my deep gratitude for all the support we get from you. You give Lucia the love of God. Thank you!

Please pray with us: Heavenly Father, give us wisdom, strength and enough love to reach out and support children who suffer a lack of opportunities imposed by poverty. We pray for those threatened by violence. We pray for a strong and committed church that upholds the cause of children, and we pray for our sponsors, who lovingly join the mission of releasing children from poverty in the precious name of Jesus.

Sincerely, Guillermo Muñoz”

Letter from the Country Director of Indonesia

This week’s Country Director letter is from Indonesia, where I sponsor Finka. I haven’t been a sponsor in Indonesia too long, just since April. So it was great to learn more about their ministry there!

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“Dear Alisa, I am Sarah Jeanin Rahardja, Compassion Indonesia country director. This is my 15th year working with Compassion. Compassion Indonesia started its ministry in 1984. Today, we minister to almost 70,000 children, nearly 800 mothers and babies in the survival program, and 87 Leadership Development Program students through more than 315 church partners.

Thank you for your commitment, love and contribution to Finka. You have changed everything for your child. Sponsors’ financial support not only provides school tuition, healthy meals, and medical intervention, but it gives the children confidence, since they know they are loved, known and protected.

In Indonesia, 13.8 million children live below the poverty line. Children who live in rural eastern Indonesia have more disadvantages in access to clean water, schools and health care. However, children in western Indonesia have their own disadvantages due to the concentration of population. In Indonesia, increasing numbers of parents must work outside their village or even out of the country. Only 10 percent of children see both their parents daily, and 20 percent of children do not see either of their parents.

One of our focuses for the coming year is youth development, which will provide programs and opportunities for youth to be disciples, develop their leadership, and develop their interests and talents to become self-sufficient. We are also expanding our ministry to more extreme-poverty areas. This year, we will expand into Alor Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, and North Sumatra.

Last year, we implemented Qavah, a method to empower church partners. We help church partners to identify their resources instead of identifying their needs. The process has a significant result when church partners start to access resources around them and mobilize their communities to respond to their own needs. Church partners have been able to mobilize communities to build toilets or bridges and clean the streets. We used a similar process with youth, and they came up with some great ideas and programs; empowering youth also helped the church partners maintain youth participation at the child development centers. In one center, the youth developed a program to pick up the younger children and serve them during the activities at the center.

Children value their relationships with their sponsors. They not only appreciate the financial support, but especially the sponsor letters. Some children study harder because of encouragement from their sponsors in letters, some children feel valuable because their sponsors say they pray for them and love them, and some children meet Christ through sponsor letters. Through letters, children feel the love and attention that some of them cannot get from their parents, who are too busy to meet their needs. Please write as often as you can.

These achievements in children’s lives could not happen without sponsors’ support and commitment. You play an important role. Through the relationship between sponsor and child, two different people from different countries, different languages, and different cultures can know each other and see the kingdom of God in wider perspective. The sponsor-child relationship is not limited by program, but it is a lifelong relationship. I am thankful to be your co-worker in this most effective ministry to bring children to rise from poverty and to know Jesus.

I humbly ask you to pray that we can have the courage and commitment to do our best; also pray for the process of expanding our ministry to more impoverished areas in Indonesia.

Please let me express my gratitude again for your commitment, love and heart for Finka. May God bless you abundantly.

In Jesus, Sarah Jeanin Rahardja”