CHURCH & MINISTRY
Compassion International in the Dominican Republic
Context and Overview
By Kersley Fitzgerald
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Continued from Page One
We'll be looking at that assistance in detail over the next few weeks as GotQuestions staffers (and spouses) give their reports, but here's a quick summary. (Also see Compassion's summary here.)
Compassion is best-known for its program that matches sponsors with a specific child. Unlike other (good, helpful, legitimate) programs, a sponsor's donation goes directly to the care of one child. Projects vary, but usually provide help with school, exposure to the Gospel and the story of Jesus, and at least one good meal. While the money is important, the relationship is more so. Poverty is a condition of the mind more than the wallet, and these kids need to hear someone say they can accomplish great things and that God loves them. No need to wait for the article — you can sponsor a child today.
Child Survival Program
The first Project we visited included a special service dedicated to helping mothers and children from pregnancy through the toddler years. The mothers in the program received prenatal training, medical care, and nutrition, help through delivery, and more assistance as they learned how to care for their babies. When living in a shack with two other children and little-to-no income, it can be difficult to consider the needs of an infant. Each mother is given a mentor who visits twice a week to make sure the baby is healthy, the mom is doing good emotionally, and the other kids are receiving what they need. Want to help? Support for a mother is only $20/month. You can find out more here.
Leadership Development Program
A Compassion child usually graduates out of the program when he or she graduates from high school. But there are a select few that need only opportunity to do even greater things. That's where the Leadership Development Program (LDP) takes over. This young woman decided at age four she would be a doctor. She's now 20 with two years left in medical school. After serving as a doctor for the Dominican Republic for a year, she plans on going to the US or France to train as a cardiac surgeon, then return to the DR to serve her people. It's hard to think — without the LDP, she'd be a frustrated, driven shop clerk, living with her mother and grandmother. But $300/month and she'll be a cardiac surgeon, dedicated to operating on babies with birth defects and grandmothers whose families need them.
The last Project we visited was also the most ambitious. In addition to their devotion to their community via their child development center, the church also wanted to branch out and meet larger needs. Thanks to corporate donations through Compassion, they were able to open a water treatment plant, a bakery, and a vocation school which teaches kids in the program and adults from the community how to cook. In addition, they teach kids computer assembly and repair. From a donor point of view, this is a unique opportunity. Funds are pooled to meet community needs, not the sponsorship of individual kids. It makes it particularly good for groups (such as the Canadian chiropractic office that helped with this Project) and those who are unable to regularly correspond with a sponsored child. And you can't beat the results — fresh bread, affordable pure water, and this summer they'll graduate 300 cooking students!
The idea behind Compassion International is pretty simple: local churches who preach the gospel are given support to care for their kids and their communities. We saw deaf kids taught sign language, hundreds of kids fed, families provided with rice, boys proudly showing off their computers, and pastors sharing their future dreams. Stay tuned for more on how Compassion International is "releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name" in the Dominican Republic.
For more in-country news, check out the DR Compassion blog.
Photo Two: Kevin (GotQuestions senior editor) and his wife Angela meet their newly-sponsored child; church staff member
Photo Three: Lydia with her youngest child, standing in front of her home; Kersley Fitzgerald
Photo Four: Member of the LDP talks about her passion to become a doctor; MeLissa LeFleur
Photo Five: Bread from the bakery and water treatment filters; Kersley Fitzgerald
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