In fact, that’s what all Compassion Projects get the kids to do.
It’s kind of like me refusing to tidy my children’s rooms because, no matter how much they moan or complain or insist that they already did half of it, leaving me to question whether it’s the ceiling half they are referring to, if they are capable to do it themselves but don’t, I’m just enabling them to be lazy instead of encouraging them to take responsibility.
Beating poverty works in the same way.
Yep, Compassion projects are a DIY poverty breaker. Kids, you need to do-it-yourself. Compassion and the sponsors? Well, we’ll provide the tools and the guidance?
But we don’t do it for you.
Katuuso provided the perfect example of this method of eradicating poverty.
As the band played, the children led us through the grounds of their project, welcoming us with overwhelming warmth and excitment. The Katuuso Child Development Centre was the first Compassion project Cait and I were scheduled to visit and, even though we were warned of the welcome we would receive, I had not prepared for how much my cheeks would hurt by the end of the day. I don’t think I stopped smiling.
Here, children thrive.
Here, children are given opportunities,
Here, children receive support.
Here, children are valued.
Here, children realise what they did not before; that they will have a future that is far different to their past.
That is the work of Compassion and the sponsors that support it.
And the positivity is infectious.
Once the band had finished playing a selection of tunes including both country’s national anthems (and I’m not ashamed to admit that their rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’ actually gave me goosebumps and made me feel quite emotional – the first time I’ve reacted to that in such a way), the children went about their activities whilst Pauline, the Project Director, led us to the office to tell us more about this particular centre’s work.
Compassion Projects take into account the location and needs of the community, which vary greatly not only from country to country but even from different areas within the same country. For example, cities and large towns may have greater problems with gang culture and drugs, whereas problems exacerbated by isolation such as the lack of medical or employment resources or opportunities in the vicinity may affect rural communities more.
The Katuuso Child Development Centre is located 10 kilometres south of Kampala in the hillside community of Buziga. Approximately 5,000 residents live here in houses typically constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tin roofs. Unemployment is high with those lucky enough to find work as day labourers earning only £15 a month on average.
As with all Compassion-partnered projects, providing the children with the opportunity to learn and develop a range of skills is an important part of what they do. Providing training in income-generating skills enables them to set up in business for themselves, therefore increasing their earning potential and independence and breaking the cycle of poverty once and for all. But this is not all they do. Whilst income generating activities and opportunities may vary from project to project, the general approach remains the same and is provided through a combination of spiritual, physical, cognitive, social and emotional development.
Pauline knows all too well the vital role Compassion plays in lifting children out of poverty and the opportunities it provides through its work as she too was once a Compassion sponsored child. Tirelessly and with unwaivering commitment, Pauline is dedicated to Compassion’s cause.
She knows how Compassion will change these children’s lives.
She knows because she was once where these children are now. Now, thanks to a sponsor who loved her, believed in her and supported her, Pauline is part of the change in the lives in front of her. She knows the difference just one sponsor makes, not only to that one child but to many more. Pauline is the perfect example of the ripple effect that sponsoring one child creates. If it wasn’t for Pauline’s sponsor her life would be very different now, if at all. Currently in her fourth year as this project’s Director, she and her team at Katuuso are changing the lives of 240 children, an incredible 234 of whom have sponsors.
Which means six don’t.
The Katuuso Child Development Centre was formed in 2008. As with all Compassion projects, it was created in partnership with a local church, the reason being that the church forms the centre of the community and is best placed in knowing its own communities needs, the problems it is affected by and also because it already has a relationship with the majority of the individuals within it. The church’s existing knowledge and involvement within the community puts it in the best position to strongly and effectively address the issues affecting the area with Compassion’s support. This approach is currently helping more than 1.5 million children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries, and has enabled children to lift themselves out of the poverty trap for more than 60 years thanks to the kindness and support of sponsors worldwide.
Due to the number registered, the children attend in groups on different days. Today was a Saturday and so the children present were mainly in the 3 to 11-year-old age range. All the children were smartly dressed in their uniforms, some shy, others more confident, all beaming and inquisitive and many eager to catch our eyes, hold our hands, give us a smile or climb up into our laps.
Sponsoring a child enables the staff at this project to provide support and care in an holistic manner. It’s not just about maths and English. In fact, it’s not just about school – although how grateful are these kids that they get that opportunity? There’s no counting down for school holidays or breaks at all here.
It’s not just about workbooks and school subjects and facts and figures.
It’s about, well, everything really.
Here, children learn all the skills they need to become well-rounded, independent and decent adults, destined to remove themselves out of poverty and to make a positive difference in the world. A wide range of skills are taught at Katuuso.
Brick making, hair dressing, fashion design and sewing, purse and bag-making, tie dying, book binding and music are all but a few.
Barbara is one Compassion sponsored child who has now gone onto college to further her studies in fashion design. She wants to be a famous designer one day. I grabbed the opportunity for a photo with her so I can one day say, ‘I know Barbara-the-Famous-Fashion-Designer!’
Barbara is one of the ex-Compassion students who now returns to share their knowledge with the current children at the project. In fact, everything but music is now taught by Compassion children who learnt their skills at the project themselves once upon a time. Like Pauline, Barbara is yet another example of the ripple effect that sponsorship through Compassion creates. I’m going to address this in more detail shortly.
Children are taught to clean and to cook. They learn how to look after themselves through hygiene, nutrition and physical education. They are taught how to work together, how to support each other, how to be kind, considerate and thoughtful. They learn compassion, honesty and love. They are taught right from wrong. They are taught acceptable from unacceptable.
These children are children.
Unless there is someone to teach them, how will they ever learn?
And if they are being raised by parents who were never taught these things themselves, whose main aim is to survive each day through the toughest of conditions imaginable, how can they be expected to teach or guide their own children?
Nobody anywhere deserves to be left feeling alone in the harshest of conditions with no hope, no value and no future.
Nobody should turn their backs on those that are.
This is the thing to remember: Compassion doesn’t enable poverty, it disables it by starting with the child’s emotional, physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs. Sponsoring a child though Compassion does not in itself remove them from poverty. It provides the tools to the child so that they can do it themselves, independently. By nurturing every single part of a child’s life, each child develops a value, a confidence and the knowledge to break out of poverty themselves. Every child that lifts themselves out of poverty’s grip becomes an adult whose own children will never have to experience the often traumatic childhood they had. For that one child and their future generations, poverty has stopped. And it’s in this way, through sponsoring one child at a time, that we eradicate poverty.
Just look at Pauline.
Find out more about sponsoring a child through Compassion UK here and check out our video to see what we got up to at the Katuuso Child Development project:
Follow our trip here on www.largerfamilylife.com as well as on Twitter with the handle @LargerFamily, on Facebook right here and over on Instagram too. You can find our Compassion Child Sponsorship Pinterest Board here and we’ll also be adding videos to our YouTube channel here. And please do make sure you share, share, share and help us spread the word so we can get as many children sponsored as possible.
Photo Credits: Ella Dickinson/Compassion UK