Compassion International, India

Child Survival Program

Yesterday we went on a home visit and met with the mother of one of the children who is sponsored by Compassion. As we asked her questions about her family life and how they have been impacted by her daughter’s sponsorship, someone asked her how many children she had. She answered gently, and it was a longer answer than it should have been. We looked to the translator and he explained that she had one but that she was expecting. Someone asked when she was due and the translator’s face changed.

“Oh, I am sorry,” he replied. “She isn’t expecting; she said that she had a six month old baby that expired.”

Expired.

I asked the translator to tell her that my daughter died last year, and as he spoke to her, she looked me in the eye and bowed her head briefly. I don’t know Bengali and she doesn’t know English, but there wasn’t a language barrier.

One of the things I love the most about Compassion is their dedication to serving the poorest of the poor from before they are born until adulthood. Today we visited what is called a “Child Survival Program,” and their purpose is to serve babies (starting when the mother is pregnant) up until the age when they are eligible for child sponsorship at age 5 or 6. It was the most amazing thing to meet with the mothers in the program today. Not only are they taught how to take care of themselves while they are pregnant, they are also educated about taking care of their babies, and have “facilitators” that come to their homes several times a month to check in on them. The facilitators weigh the babies and measure them, teach mothers the fundamentals of infant care and nutrition etc. As the babies get a bit older, they teach them how to play and interact with their kids in an age appropriate way, and all of the children’s milestones are recorded at the center.

The mothers told us that they really had no idea how to care for their infants, and repeatedly told us how much they had learned from the program.

Again, every child.

Every kilogram.

Every milestone.

Compassion is based on loving children as individuals, and to get to see that today was incredible.

I looked over several of the wall charts, and as I did, I thought about the way I have doubted organizations like this in the past because how in the world could they keep up with thousands and thousands of children?

And hanging on the wall in impeccable ink handwriting was the undeniable evidence.

It was so beautiful to see the way they care for these babies, and as a result, the way families are impacted.

As part of the Indian culture, women don’t have the rights that we take for granted in the States. They explained that they only eat leftovers after the family has finished a meal, and because they are so insecure about their own identity, they don’t know how to respond when they are spoken to. We asked if their husbands were resistant to them coming to the program, and they explained that they were initially against it, but once they saw the way their wives and children flourished, they gave their blessing.

So, in addition to receiving pregnancy care, the babies receive all of their vaccinations and health care, but that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. The women are encouraged to find their identity through various trades, such as sewing and making baby formula. I sat in awe as I watched them gather as a community in order to learn how to better care for their families while their fingers were busy with work. Several of them stood and gave their testimonies and it was so powerful to imagine that about a year ago, these women wouldn’t even be able to answer a question asked of them. And the beauty of it is that the women go home and teach their neighbors what they are learning, which opens the door for them to develop a skill.

I had no idea that this program existed until this trip, and I cannot tell you what an honor it was to sit among these precious women and hear their stories. Even before children are able to be sponsored, they are under the wing of Compassion, and to see the joy they radiate is difficult to articulate.

We were out in what looked like a jungle, and it had a really different feeling than that other projects we have visited so far. It was so remote and isolated that we had to drive for about an hour and a half by bus and then take a rickshaw for another half hour to get there. Here are a couple photos to give you an idea of what we saw.

Today was one of my favorite days, and it helped me to appreciate the way Compassion dedicates itself to sharing the love of Christ with babies before their mothers have even met them.

I love this organization, and I am completely humbled to have this opportunity, because I have been able to see it’s extensive reach firsthand, and I have loved on children that may not have survived without the help of Compassion.

Before we left, I gave the director of the center a bag of clothes and shoes that Nicol and Greg gave me before I left. They bought several outfits that they wanted me to share with children who would be close to Audrey and Luke’s age. I couldn’t help but wonder who would be wearing the shoes and dresses in a few days.

There is a brokenness in me that can’t be filled, so I won’t say that handing the bag was the easiest thing I’ve ever done, because it was symbolic of something I don’t have.

I will say though, as much as it hurt, there was a sense of redemption in knowing that my loss was being used in such a tangible way. I saw glimpses of her in the faces of children who have a chance to thrive, and it felt like fresh air.

I needed that today.


There are still plenty of kids left to sponsor here, and I’m praying that if you are one of those that the Lord has urged to do so, you will be inspired by our stories so you know that you are making a difference.

Thanks for taking this ride with us. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds…

Blessings and love,

Angie

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