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Customer Focus: Compassion

Releasing children from poverty

Compassion is a Christian humanitarian aid organization dedicated to help children living in poverty around the world. Through child sponsorship, young and vulnerable people are supported in their long-term development. We spoke with Marjan Horst, field experience specialist for Compassion in The Netherlands.

Compassion helps children through sponsorship program

Founder Everett Swanson traveled to South Korea during the war in the 1950s. He went to preach the gospel to the troops of the army. He also met children orphaned by the war. In 1952, he founded an aid organization to help orphanages, and later he set up a sponsor program. After naming the organization “Compassion” in 1963, local offices started to emerge all around the world. Compassion in The Netherlands was formed in 1996. Since then they have sponsored more than 40,000 children around the globe, giving them a second chance to pursue their dreams and live useful lives.

Meet Marjan

Marjan has been working for Compassion for the last ten years. As a field experience specialist, she is responsible for arranging travel for her organization and sponsors. “It’s our mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name,” Marjan explains. “We want to break the vicious cycle they’ve been in for generations. Not only by helping them in their education, but also by supporting them socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically so they can take care of their own families later in life.”

Compassion works with a child sponsorship program through which children, from the moment they are born up until they are 22 years old, are being supported. Sponsors “adopt” a child by donating 33 euros every month. The “adopted” child then joins the Compassion program. Two to three times a year, children send a letter to their sponsors, and it’s a joyous moment every time they receive a letter back. “We really try to encourage sponsors to write letters to their child.”

Sponsors also can meet their sponsored child in person. Several times a year, Compassion organizes trips to facilitate that. Not only do sponsors get to meet their sponsored child, but they also get to experience the culture of the country or area.

Even though Compassion helps children with funding through the sponsorship program, all the work in the field is done by the local churches. The churches provide the education, meals, and medical and emotional care. "The donated money really goes to your particular child. It just doesn't go directly to them but through the local church. They are always in control to make sure money is spent in the right way. "

Even though 33 euros is not a huge amount for the average sponsor, a lot can be done with that money for children in poverty. “We make sure children receive uniforms to go to school and receive adequate nutrition. All children are welcome whether they believe or not, or whether they are Hindu, Muslim, or whichever faith they’re affiliated to. We look for the children most in poverty, not the children that are the most religious. But they know that at the local church, they learn about Jesus and the Christian character of Compassion.”

Poverty is a difficult situation to escape; many communities are caught up in it for generations. "Poverty is such a huge thing because it forces you down. Nobody sees you; you can't enjoy anything, also because there isn't a lot to enjoy. Every time I travel, poverty seems to have become bigger. But when we get there and can say to a child: ‘We think you are important; we are going to invest in you, because we see your uniqueness and want to give you a hopeful future. We think it’s important to really see the children and give them the attention they lack living in poverty,’ ” Marjan says.

That’s why we believe that faith is indispensable. Even though other people might not notice that you’re there, God always sees you. We show you’re worth being on Earth and that you matter. You can see the actual revival of children when they realize they are loved on Earth and in Heaven.”