Compassion Center—objective numbers

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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

Raising Leaders

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What does it mean to be released from poverty? It is not uni-dimensional. That is why Compassion takes a holistic approach, addressing the spiritual, economic, social and physical needs of children. In my last post, Changing a Country, I introduced our new friend, Jonathon Almonte, who is a former Compassion sponsored child and a student in their Leadership Development Program (LDP).1305200089-4

Having been equipped through Compassion, Jonathon initiated a four day camp, aptly named “Boot Camp,” with the approval of the Compassion leadership. The original focus was the other (LDP) students. Now the camp has been opened up to Compassion sponsored teens, all kids of poverty. The vision is to produce even greater leadership among the youth of the nation. There is an application process to be accepted and the camp is open to students of all abilities, Christian and non-Christian.

One of the main things that will keep a student from being accepted is medical problems, because it is so physically strenuous and challenging. At the beginning of the camp, they are given a box with food for the four days and they are responsible for rationing it and preparing it. They are not given any salt, so the food has no appeal.  When they have graduation, they are served a meal with salt, much better tasting. The object lesson, of course, is that Jesus calls his children the salt of the earth and what happens when even the salt loses its saltiness?

Because they deal with such corruption in the nation’s government, the camp puts the kids in teams where they become the “government.” They are told that if they don’t take the lead, someone will lead them. They are given a set of rules that must be followed and they must decide the consequence for breaking the rules. Once the rule is broken by one team member, the consequence is for the entire team. Why? Because Jonathon is trying to pull them out of self-centeredness, to teach them their actions affect everyone.

Interestingly, Jonathon also emphasizes the need for the teams to follow time constraints, saying that Dominicans are irresponsible, arriving 7 PM when they say they will be there at 5 PM. No foreigner could say that without seeming unaccepting and judgmental of their culture. In this, we see the beauty of nationals, not foreigners, being leaders of a ministry.

When I’m around people like Jonathon, I feel humbled and honored. While it would be easy to be disheartened by the poverty of multitudes of children in the DR, I actually have greater hope for them than many in my own prosperous community. Compassion International is raising up leaders with changed lives—people who are breaking out of the cycle of poverty and who know the joy of serving Christ and others. I’m reminded of the passage: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Experience the Joy of Investing in a Child

Changing a Country

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Frankly, we went to the Dominican Republic unprepared for how deeply we would be impressed. Our initial trip highlight was being hosted by a LDP student from Compassion. He acted as a guide for our first day trip to visit our oldest Compassion-sponsored child.  LDP stands for Leadership Development Program, which is a thorough leadership program for former sponsored children. It is specifically designed for these kids who grew up in great poverty, but who had the privilege of being sponsored, allowing them to be educated and developed.1305170143-4

Not only does the LDP provide its participants university scholarships, the program equips them through comprehensive training. The vision of the Leadership Development Program is to build Christ-centered leaders and professionals of character, who can transform the nation in every area. Thus, the students major in a variety of disciplines, from engineering to medicine, from law to linguistics. It is incredibly competitive to be accepted as an LDP student. While there are roughly 48,500 sponsored children in the DR, each year only 40 sponsored children/high school graduates are chosen for the LDP program.

The LDP student who hosted us was a 22 year old college junior named Jonathon. Our family fell in love with him. Rarely, or never, have we met a young man with such devotion to Jesus, passion, vision, initiative, and leadership abilities. At his young age, he already has started a number of outreaches in the DR.

First, Jonathon recognized the overwhelming need of the barrio of Santo Domingo where he grew up, one of the roughest and most crime-ridden impoverished neighborhoods. Yes, there are Compassion centers there, but they can’t service the countless number of kids who are being targeted by gangs, tempted by drugs and crime as a hope to end their poverty. Jonathon and friends started a non-profit ministry in which kids of all ages are being given professional music lessons. As a result, they have formed bands that perform in both English and Spanish, even having the chance to come to the U.S.

Back in Jonathon’s barrio, kids now have a safe place to go and purpose for their lives. The ministry, Casa Juvenil Tercer Cielo, provides the instruction and mentoring free of cost and all they ask is for the parents to come to a Bible study. Why? They know that the only way for their country to be healed and transformed is through Jesus. How can they settle for less? Many parents and children have come to Christ and are now in the community’s church.

Just this past week, I contacted Jonathon about our upcoming trip to the DR in May, 2014. While we’re eager to see him personally, we also wondered if he wanted to get acquainted with another ministry we support, International Justice Ministry. IJM is in the process of opening an office in the capital of Santo Domingo, which we’d like to visit. Jonathon already has met the Directors of IJM.  Why should I be surprised? Not only that, they asked for his help in the initial feasibility studies of a Santo Domingo IJM office to stop sex trafficking of minors. Yes, Compassion and LDP can help change a country.

Experience the Joy of Investing in a Child

Drinking their Water

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In my previous post, He Knows before We Do, you can read how God opened the path for us to visit the Dominican Republic in May. Throughout our time there, I kept thinking about the incarnation, God the Son coming to the world in flesh, fully experiencing everything we do. He left the privilege of heaven and took on all of our reality in this fallen world. Out of his infinite love.

Our time in the DR was short, just eleven days, but we left with a more tangible understanding of the challenges and joys there. We could read about living conditions in the DR before we went, but now our kids know what it’s like to need purchased bottled water, even to brush teeth, to have to thoroughly dry our dishes after washing.

Even the locals need to purchase bottled water because of the level of contamination. Realistically, not all can afford it and, thus, can live with chronic sickness. Water-borne diseases are a leading cause of death in the DR and its close neighbor, Haiti, especially in small children.

Internationally, safe water is one of the greatest and most urgent needs in developing countries.  Every day over 4,000 children are dying of water-related diseases such as cholera and typhoid that are easily preventable. Recently, I have learned about Compassion Water of Life, a way of providing safe water for a child and his/her family for a lifetime (over 1 million gallons). It costs only $79, a one-time fee, to provide one child with Compassion Water of Life.

That low cost actually surprised me. It is not only affordable for the donor, but it frees up a greater expense for those in need. For example, when we were in the DR, our family needed to buy (refill) a five gallon container of purified water every day. Each time we refilled the container, it cost just over $1. Thus, just three months of purified water for one family would require over $90, a lot more than most Dominicans can afford. For more information and to purchase Compassion Water of Life, please visit http://www.compassion.com/water-filters.htm.  Also, you can watch a short video of a girl, whose life was saved at http://www.compassion.com/  donate/water-of-life-video.htm

Now our kids comprehend that DR toilets really can’t handle tissue paper and that you must deposit it in trash cans. They learned the hard way. Undeniably, it’s the same situation in East Asia where Thomas and I lived as in many countries, which we had told them.

Although Thomas and I thought that we had encountered crazy driving in other lands, the DR takes the cake. The kids and I were proud of Daddy learning to drive like a Dominican. He even drove once against traffic on the freeway! It happens there all the time, but for us it was eye-popping. Enthusiastically, our family started writing a poem about the driving because it was so striking—scary and hilarious at the same time. How we would love to make a children’s picture book about it to raise money for DR ministries, like Compassion.

Getting the illustrations to do it justice is the biggest hurdle. On the side of the road, you have vistas of gorgeous beaches and pick-up baseball games in dirt lots. Of course, there are pick-up games on the sandy beach, too. My kids joined one on our first Saturday and the Dominicans loved watching the loud and enthusiastic Avian. They called him “Rubio,” the blonde one.1305180035

Our trip to the DR brought many surprises, of which I’ll write more later. Perhaps the most silly came from my ten year old daughter, Kyrie Micaela. Who would have thought she’d fall in love with UHT milk?!

He Knows before We Do

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Sorrowfully, we just finished our latest family read-aloud, Things We Couldn’t Say, by Diet Eman. Both heart-breaking and inspiring, it tells the story of Diet and her companions in the Dutch Resistance during World War II.

At one point, Diet is arrested by the Nazis while carrying documents that would require her immediate execution. What could she do? Several Nazi captors surrounded her at the train station.

Suddenly, all of the soldiers are focused on one tall man in their group, mesmerized by his military coat made of the new wonder material, plastic. Seizing the opportunity, Diet hurls the incriminating parcel of papers as far as she can. Captivated by plastic, the soldiers don’t notice. Diet will live! Gratefully, she realizes that though she did not pray for this raincoat, God knew what she needed before she did.

Last year, I mouthed a prayer without any pre-meditation: “Lord, if we can get five of our six airline tickets with frequent flyer miles, I want to go to the Dominican Republic to visit our Compassion sponsored children.” Frankly, I didn’t calculate that we needed exactly five free tickets to meet our budget. Nor did I expect that we were even close to having enough frequent flyer miles for five flights. It was simply God knowing before I did.

Truly, the Lord Jesus wanted us to go to the Dominican Republic, an assurance we would need later when not all went as expected. Similarly, the Lord had a plan for Diet. Although she was not executed, she still suffered a lengthy stay in Nazi prison camps. When the fearful day of her hearing arrived, the soft voice of God comforted her, “Don’t be afraid. They cannot hurt a hair on your head unless it’s the will of your heavenly Father.”

Corrie ten Boom is perhaps my all-time favorite member of the Dutch Resistance.  In The Hiding Place, she quotes her sister, Betsie, who sums it up well: “The center of His will is our only safety—Oh, Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it.”

Experience the Joy of Investing in a Child

Theology of a Four Year Old

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“I’m glad God made me with curls,” remarks Elena, smiling.

As she turns four this week, I’m struck with her recent comments about God.

“God loves me so much.”

How do you know, Elena?

“He made me just the way He wanted me.”

To a frightened sibling, she encourages, “You don’t need to be afraid. Jesus is with us.”

“Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He has wounds on his feet and hands.”

What more will she need to know than that when she’s 74? Elena’s abuelita (grandmother) lived with me at that age, dying of oral cancer. In my mom’s final and physically painful days, only a few things mattered. Am I alone? Who is with me? Jesus and my family? Am I ready to meet my Creator, to face eternity?

Although admittedly trying, caring for a dying loved is a singular gift. It teaches us what doesn’t really last—wealth, degrees, outward beauty. What we need now, later, and always is connection with Christ and others. Death begins to teach us to enjoy the present…like the sweet voice of Elena, clutching her doll:

“Mommy, Jesus made everything, but not Bitty Baby. She’s just a birthday gift!”Image

Experience the Joy of Investing in a Child

Hope Statistics

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Around our house, we have a recurring statement, “97 percent of statistics are made up on the spot.” Okay, maybe 95 percent. We joke about it, because I’m a devotee of data and research.

Recently, I read some curious statistics published by World Factbook. The current poverty level in the U.S. is 15.1 % of the population; India’s poverty rate is 29.8 %. Some might read this and think, “Oh, things are only twice as bad in India.”  Not exactly.

Of course, it’s not my intention to minimize anyone’s hardships. Yes, there is significant suffering in the United States. Millions of children go to bed hungry. In fact, in my state of Tennessee, 1 out of 4 children have hunger struggles.

We like to support Second Harvest Food of middle Tennessee, from whom we learned that statistic. They are able to use every $1 to provide four complete meals for a hungry adult or child. I can’t even get a jar of peanut butter for $1.

Still, I feel compelled to elaborate on the level of poverty in countries like India. Why? Most of us don’t have a framework of understanding. How can you comprehend something you haven’t experienced it unless someone explains it? The majority of Americans will never visit an impoverished country, except Mexico. The majority of those visitors to Mexico remain isolated in tourist resorts, never coming in close contact with the deplorable living conditions.

So what does someone in a less developed country experience? Simply as a point of reference, I will use my life as a comparison. For a few years after my parents’ divorce, I lived “under the U.S. poverty level.” My mother had not worked for a decade and had difficulty finding work. When she finally found employment, her job had the lowest wage possible.

Our home was far from fancy, but I had a roof over my head that could withstand the forces of nature.

An impoverished child in India may live in the bastis, a cluster of makeshift dwellings, completely vulnerable to weather. Many live on the streets.

We had running water. It was sanitary.

An impoverished child in India may need to travel up to 3 miles to collect water. That polluted water causes chronic diarrhea and serious illnesses. It is a major cause of death.

We had one small bathroom with a bath and toilet.

An impoverished child in India has no bath, no toilet, no sanitary facilities. That, too, is a source of diseases.

I attended school.

An impoverished child in India cannot go to school. She has to work, often dangerous jobs, to survive. She may be sold into slavery.

I can’t remember seeing a dentist during those years. But I had access to health care and vaccines.

An impoverished child receives no vaccines. She may die from an easily preventable disease.

Our food was simple. Unlike many American children, I never went hungry (though I’m pretty certain my mother did, not eating so that I could.)

An impoverished child in India suffers from malnutrition, often going days without food.

Because we lacked money for clothes, my mother sometimes made mine. I thought they were awful.

An impoverished child in India may wear worn-out garments.

My family had hope for advancement. Eventually, my mom went back to studies part-time, earning along the way an AA, BA, MA, and finally a PhD!

An impoverished child in India has no hope.

When a child in India receives a sponsor though Compassion International, hope begins.

All Compassion-sponsored children have the opportunity to develop their God-given potential and be released from the poverty that has trapped their families for generations.

After completing an in-depth study, researchers from the University of San Francisco have concluded that Compassion’s program has large and statistically significant impacts on the educational, employment, and leadership outcomes of our children. To learn the details, visit Hope in Compassion child sponsorship

Bring HOPE today to children in India or one of the 26 countries where Compassion serves. Visit Sponsor a Child. Together, we can change statistics, bringing hope to one child at a time.

What Does the Fox Say?

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BE quiet!”

No, that’s not what the fox says. It’s what everyone shouts to eight year old Avian! With that song stuck in his head, he constantly sings it to the irritation of his siblings.

Have you noticed that our obsessions seem to upset others more than us?

Ten year old Kyrie questions me, “Why do you always want to write about Compassion?”

Knowing that I can’t do justice to Kyrie’s question, I still attempt. After all, my goal in parenting and homeschooling includes imparting vision, not simply the three R’s. Last night, when I was pondering the great sense of calling I have toward Compassion, three G’s came to mind:

The Great Commission

The Great Commandment—I pursued this topic in my earlier post, “Helping Others Snore.”

The Gospel.

How can I ever capture why the Gospel is so central to my love for Compassion? Jesus says in John 1:12 that whoever receives Him becomes a child of God.  If you’ve ever witnessed the birth of a baby, you have experienced something stunning and divine. Words can’t express it.

I remember when my second baby Kyrie, just minutes old, wriggled out of her swaddling to grasp my finger tightly. It melted my heart. In the same way, I never get over the splendor of seeing someone becoming a child of God, entering an eternal relationship with Christ. While it’s a birth, it’s also a love story with wooing, courtship, and a life-long commitment through the beauties and many difficulties of life.

When we visited the Compassion Centers in the Dominican Republic, I was struck with the deep love the workers evidenced, love for Jesus and love for the children. It was clear that they were devoted to releasing the children from both economic and spiritual poverty. Without Christ and the Gospel, we are still empty, no matter how much economic stability we have.

In 1995, I met Lily, a beautiful and intelligent instructor at one of the most prestigious universities in East Asia. Though she came from humble beginnings, she was succeeding in her teaching career and advancing economically by investing in the stock market. Lily confided to me early on, “I always felt that there must be something more to life, but I haven’t been able to find it.”

For a couple of years, I met weekly with Lily to consider what the Bible says about Christ and what He does in our lives.  After the first four months, she began to answer questions differently. It was confusing—this atheist was answering like she was a Christian.

Upon my questioning, she explained, “Last Thursday night, I lay in my bed and said, ‘Jesus, where are you? I want to talk to you.’ It was as if a light bulb turned on right then and I understood everything.” Without prompting, Lily began telling her atheist co-workers about the Gospel—such good news cannot be contained.

While our obsessions may annoy some, there are times when others “get it.” To the dismay of Avian’s siblings, I actually find it endearing when he chortles, “What Does the Fox Say?” After all, I cradled that little guy when he couldn’t talk, let alone sing. I hear the delight in his voice, and I recall the joy of this baby boy, whose smile lit up the room and still does.Image

Undoubtedly, I run the risk of irritating some as I write about Compassion International, but I’m hopeful there are others who will hear and respond to a familiar call:

“Whoever welcomes one of these little ones in my name welcomes me.” ~Jesus.

Sponsor a Child.

Overcoming Self-pity

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Got milk? The ad asks. Many of us are more likely to have self-pity in our supply.

As I parent and home school, I’m struck with the challenge of raising grateful kids free of self-pity.

Looking back on yesterday, I have a clear picture of my own self-pity. There it is—an almost empty box of cookies. In the split second I noticed the ginger cookies had been raided (by my intrepid husband, of course—my kids wouldn’t dare), my dinner plans unraveled.

No, I don’t serve ginger cookies for the meal. However, I have discovered there’s one side dish that nearly all my family will greet with cheers. With the exception of little Elena, they all devour my coconut sweet potato pie made with ginger coconut crust.

In my weekly meal planning, I had chosen this night for the well-loved dish because I also planned to make Spanish omelet. Simply made with just eggs, potatoes and onions, it’s perfect. Perhaps you can guess that not all my kids share my enthusiasm.

While not every day brings sibling conflict and family tension, yesterday seemed more contentious than others. My consolation was looking forward to a peaceful dinner. That raided cookie box nearly brought me to tears. Absurd, no?

Today was an interesting contrast to yesterday. With little exception, the kids were refreshingly cooperative. I even had a chance to go to the super market by myself and found a couple of needed items on sale. While making lunch, I discovered that I had just the right number of cheese slices for cheese toast.

Although it’s not unusual for me to offer thanks to God for such gifts during the day, I felt uncomfortable doing that. Somehow, it felt hollow and tinny. Do I only offer thanks when everything goes my way?

It wasn’t that I felt guilty. Rather, I had the feeling that I was missing out on something richer, something more sustaining. Almost immediately, I was reminded of the passage in Thessalonians, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

I always have known that God does not require thanks in the needy way we might strive for it. Then why thank in all circumstances? In doing that, we experience a greater fullness. It provides a connection with Christ that is deeper than the temporary gladness of getting my own way.

As in most things, the first step in overcoming my parenting challenges is to first take the plank out of my own. Leading by example satisfies—helpful for me and others.

Tonight, I go to bed thankful not just for my list…but just because.

Sponsor a Child.

Confessions of a Kindergarten Drop-out

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It’s true. I bailed on kindergarten.

And I don’t have an ounce of shame about it.

After all, I gave it my best shot. The first day of school, I insisted that my mom take me exceedingly early so I could be first in line. Expectantly and excitedly, I waited by my classroom door at A.E. Arnold Elementary in Cypress, Ca.

That name has been an ongoing source of confusion for me. Who exactly was A.E. Arnold? What’s the deal with the initials? I thought other kids went to normal-sounding schools like George Washington grade school. Oh, well, at least it wasn’t Benedict Arnold Elementary.

I can just hear some young urchin ask, “So why didn’t you google search it?” My dear, forty years ago we obtained our information the old-fashioned way. We earned it. This quiet, shy little girl would’ve had to inch her hand up and ask in front of twenty pairs of eyes, “Uh, who is A.E.?”  You wonder what’s so risky about that. Well, we five year olds may not know much, but we’re not stupid. Gosh, maybe Arnold was the last governor of California! Maybe he was even president. You don’t have to know all the presidents by kindergarten, do you?

My teacher also was not the kind of person that endeared questions. Her large girth alone intimidated. One time, we were sitting around her in a semi-circle on the floor for instruction. An annoying boy persisted on blowing in my face. Finally, I turned in exasperation and gave a quick blow to his face. That teacher swooped down on me like a predatory hawk, obviously delighted for a chance to punish this petite goody, goody girl in pig tails.

No, mine was not the peaches and cream image of a kindergarten teacher we might carry. During recess once, I was sad about something, quietly crying on a bench. A precious little girl had her arm around me, tenderly comforting me. Ms. Grumps came by and chastised her efforts, “Leave her alone. She doesn’t deserve it.” What was that about?

Still, I attended school faithfully and on time (of course!) all the way through Christmas, striving to learn all I could. When we came to the end of the two week winter break, I announced, “The kids don’t pay attention and I can’t learn. I’m not going back!”

The shocking surprise is that my mother didn’t even attempt to change my decision. No pleading, no cajoling, no ultimatums. She simply trusted me. I have to say I admire her response.

In her position, I might be tempted to have the cultural “what if” fear response: If she quits kindergarten, will she quit everything?

Will she never graduate from high school? Never go to college? Will she be destitute and homeless? Good Lord, get her to the principal’s office fast!

So what did happen to little Carmen? Initially, not much of what would be termed “school,” and it suited her superbly. There was a brief attempt at first grade in parochial school—it failed. Those, of course, were the days before legalized homeschooling. Thus, the state required my mother to hire a credentialed tutor to teach me once a week. It probably was just an hour session.

At the end of that one hour per week first grade, I was far beyond my peers in reading and math. I passionately devoured complex multiplication problems. I mastered simple division and can picture my tutor attempting to teach me long division on my little chalk board.

None of the “what if’s” occurred.  Second grade found me back in a school setting. Eventually, I graduated from high school when I was fifteen. Four years later, I completed a B.S. in Chemistry. Not long after that, I finished graduate studies in physical chemistry. For fun, I have enrolled in graduate courses in Bible, theology, and counseling, as well as marriage and family therapy. Crazy.

I’ll confess: I don’t have the faith of my mother. As a homeschooling mom, I do require more than an hour’s labor from my pupils. My kids can testify that I’m resolutely committed to a regular routine of learning and service. What they might not realize is that I consider their free time just as valuable or more. Although effortlessly achieved, their copious, non-regimented time is the crowning glory of our schedule.

In this day and age, I must clarify that their unstructured time is not an electronic festival.  With joy, I’ve watched these kids read, play, imagine, draw, paint, write poetry and prose, build with legos and blocks, cook and bake, create story lines and dress up, dance, perform their own plays, throw rocks in ponds, run and jump in our yard, plan bake sales, sew, knit, and fashion design.

Almost a week doesn’t pass that I don’t hear the complaint, “I’m bored.” That, too, is a luxury, the privilege of those with means. By that, I don’t mean Bill Gates, but ordinary people like you and me, sitting before a computer screen. About 2.5 billion live on less than $2 per day. Yes, we are wealthy!

One of the beauties of taking my kids overseas is that they can see how other children live. They’ve interacted with kids who are forced to beg for money on a street corner or in a busy parking lot. We’ve engaged with a homeless orphan, selling anything he could to survive. Is that unique? No.

  • 218 million children aged 5 – 17 are involved in child labor world wide
  • 126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers

These statistics are horrifying, if we can sit and take them in. Perhaps that contributes to why I’m passionate to promote Compassion International. At the Compassion projects, children are allowed the luxury to be kids like ours, to exit the oppression of child labor. Besides being educated, they reclaim the chance to play. They can thrive, not simply survive.

Final confession: My kindergarten teacher provided me one priceless lesson. This is no joke. I vividly remember her pointing out the brightly lit letters above the back door. Eagerly, I learned E-X-I-T.

Sponsor a Child.

Source for child labor statistics: crin.org