On behalf of Compassion International, I traveled to Burkina Faso in French West Africa with four other clergy from El Dorado County (Green Valley Community Church, Pioneer Bible Church, and Foothills United Methodist Church), one each from the San Diego area, Iowa, and D.C., and a Compassion advocate, who paid his own way, from Green Valley Community Church. We had two trip leaders from Compassion International.
The first two days in Burkina Faso was visiting rural Compassion sites. Compassion only works through local churches (and this is a country that is 50% Muslim). People here live in mud-brick houses that are typically 10 feet by 12 feet. Families vary in size from three to ten, typically. Most households are multi-generational. In the two home visits I made in those two days, there was no father present due to death. There was only one mother present. People grow their own food staple, millet.
The next two days, we visited urban sites in the capital city, Ouagadougou. Here people live in cinderblock, one-story buildings in gated communities. What I observed is that the people who live in these communities are typically extended families. Their homes comprise, roughly, of a 10 feet by 12 feet “living room” and 4 feet by 6 feet bedroom. People support themselves by finding something, anything to sell on the streets of the city. On my home visit, the women in the courtyard make a local beer, called Doula.
I learned that Compassion only sponsors one child per family, no siblings need apply. I also learned that 12 people benefit from one sponsored child. Compassion not only feeds, provides clean drinking water, education, both Christian and secular, and medical care to the sponsored children, it also provides for the child’s families. A child will better be able to thrive if the family thrives. We delivered a 65 pound bag of rice (a delicacy there), one gallon of oil, and a bag of soap to the families we visited. One woman I visited receives medicine from Compassion for HIV.
But the best part was the joy, enthusiasm, and energy from the children at the Compassion sites. One parent told us how her child has become more polite, better behaved, and more studious since becoming sponsored through Compassion. The children were delightful.
Each Compassion site has a small percentage of unsponsored children. These are the ones whose pictures we see on the sponsor packets. They fully participate in the Compassion site while waiting for a sponsor. Compassion has another fund to pay for these children that people donate to, specifically. On October 18th and 25th, I will share stories and lots of pictures of the trip during the Parish Forum.