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Have you ever wondered how a child qualifies for Compassion sponsorship? After all, there are multitudes of needy children.

On May 17, 2013, we toured a Compassion Center as part of our visit to see our sweet and oldest sponsored child, Rafaelina.  While there, our guide Jonathon provided us with the form that Centers use in the Dominican Republic to determine if a child’s needs are great enough to require sponsorship.  The form covers many different risk factors—seventeen to be exact.

Those factors included income of the family, several different living condition factors (including construction of home to presence or lack of sanitation), family situation (number of adults/children), education levels, etc. Each area receives a specific score of 1 (for bad), 2 (regular), 3 (good), 4 (very good), depending on the situation. If a child’s total score is 49 or below, then the child is eligible to be part of Compassion’s outreach. I was impressed with the objective and concrete approach.

How does that scoring compare to situations we see here? Realistically very few of the non-homeless who live below the poverty level in the US would come close to a low score of 49.  (According to www.homelesschildrenamerica.org, nearly 1.6 million go to sleep without a home of their own each year–significant numbers needing of change.) For those children who do have shelter, even the lowest levels of housing and sanitation in the US would tend to qualify for a score of 4 (very good). Most of us take for granted that low income housing, though not fancy, has electricity, roofs, toilets, and in-door plumbing.

Additionally, a monthly income of $165 per month is considered “very good,” receiving a score of 4. Previously, when I saw these monthly income numbers, I thought the cost of living surely must be lower in the DR. I assumed you could get by cheaply. However, I made a discovery while were in the DR, shopping in the markets and cooking our own food: Groceries there cost more than what we pay in the United States.

How Dominican people can feed and clothe their children is beyond comprehension. Frequently, I spend more than $165 per week (not per month) to feed our family of six. And that’s just for food—no shelter costs, clothing, educational or medical expenses, etc.

It’s clear that Compassion is reaching a level of need in the DR far beyond what we see in our local outreach. I say that not to discount the sorrows of anyone in our land, but because extreme poverty is beyond our usual experience.

Here in Tennessee, we volunteer with organizations such as Nashville Food Project and for Room in the Inn, outreach to local homeless. Financially, we contribute to area charities that help the impoverished. Through this, we are familiar with the needs of struggling souls in the US.  Yes, they have genuine needs–they’re just different from ones experienced in developing nations.

By sponsoring through Compassion, we are able to release children from a cycle of extreme poverty. Through a holistic approach, children are developed physically, spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, and economically. It excites me to be a part of a life-changing solution for precious little ones that is more than a band-aid. Will you join us?

Experience the Joy of Investing in a Child