In January I was lucky enough to go on a missions trip to Mwanza in Tanzania. I was going with my church to visit our local church plant and to serve alongside the team there. I also got to visit the Ilamela Compassion Project.
For those of you who don’t know about Compassion, they are an international child sponsorship organisation who work in 26 developing countries around the world. They are passionate about releasing people out of poverty. I myself have a sponsor child in another part of Tanzania and have volunteered at events here in the UK to help raise the profile of the charity and hopefully get more people to sponsor a child. Compassion deal with the health and medical needs of the child as well as the education and spiritual needs and the practical needs too. It was a privilege to get to visit the fab team at Ilamela and see the work on the ground. Because of my keen interest in the charity I was really looking forward to the day to see the work I knew about being carried out – I love that I came away learning more about the work of Compassion and being even more impressed by the work they do.
We got a lovely welcome by the staff and the children were clearly excited by our arrival which was amazing, they came running up to meet the car.
Kasussi the Project Director took us into his office and we discussed the work of Compassion and that particular project. I didn’t realise compassion visited homes and schools.
Home visits allow Compassion to assess and validate that they are making a difference to the whole family rather than just a child, for example, things like if there are now more beds for the children in the house – it really is about lifting people out of poverty.
Compassion visit the childrens schools to check they are attending and see their progress. I saw the records of some children and they were very comprehensive. all school reports are kept – I loved this because my compassion child (Jesca) wants to be a Dr and my favourite letter to receive from her is her school reports because she seems to always be in the top of her class and do well. The thought that this is noticed at school and by compassion thrills me in case by college age she can be recognised for leadership development programs and helped progress to doing what she wants to do. What a complete and utter honour that I can have helped write to, and encourage, a young 11 year old girl in the middle of Tanzania who may one day become a Dr!!!
I was surprised at the “life skill” type of lessons that were offered including sewing and hairdressing – I loved that the project I visited had ponds full of fish, the fish were sold and then money used to make another pond, this was all about sustainability and a tester for the project which seemed to be going well. I also liked it was parents of the compassion children that were there catching the fish – I loved that they are doing their bit and not just relying on sponsorship money – we came away with full hearts and four fish!!!
The children at the project were all amazing, they are thrilled to have visitors we sat in on lessons and always had children huddled around us I made an army of new friends that day for sure!
I came away from the project having learned new things about Compassion but also with a more personal reality of the work they do. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to make a difference in a families life or to help in some way alleviate poverty to look into Compassion and the work they do. If you are already a sponsor are there other ways you can help – possibly volunteer for Compassion or raise awareness and funds. Is there a way you could go and visit your child or a Compassion project – just this week I have had an email about sponsors heading out to Tanzania to hopefully meet their sponsor children.
My brother and a friend are running the London Marathon in only 38 days time and they are raising money for Compassion – you can view their page here should you be so inclined as to sponsor them!
Images mine or courtesy of Compassion