Spring Harvest Hosts, Beatrice and Cathy, celebrate the powerful community surrounding 16-year-old Monica from Uganda.
When a child is enrolled onto a Compassion programme, they find themselves surrounded by an incredible wraparound support package. A team of family members, the local church, school teachers, healthcare professionals, Compassion project mentors, spiritual advisers, and friends.
Here we meet some of the team involved in supporting Monica, a Compassion participant: her mother, Devine, one of her project workers, and her pastor. We also hear Beatrice and Cathy’s reflections on visiting the project on behalf of Spring Harvest…
The Pastor: Fred Wassanyi – Deliverance Church, Uganda
I’ve been a pastor in Kigungu for over twenty years. It’s a fishing community and sadly this causes a lot of family break-down. Fathers work away from home, and sometimes they forget their families. Mothers and children are left in situations of extreme depravation.
Partnering with Compassion
Our church has partnered with Compassion for over a decade, and it’s been very helpful in equipping us to serve our community better. We already know our community extremely well; we understand the needs of individuals and families. Compassion’s investment has helped us to gain training to improve our understanding of a child’s developmental needs and how to best serve them.
An average Saturday starts with the children arriving for a devotional. After that we have breakfast together. I love seeing the children eat breakfast, because in our community that is not a guarantee – receiving more than one meal a day isn’t guaranteed – so it’s very good to watch them enjoying their food.
After a meal, they split into different classes according to age. And, of course, we have time for playing games; sometimes we hold competitions with other projects.
Equipped to Serve
As a staff team, we’re well-equipped. We have centre teachers who provide the classes, and we have a committee who helps us to plan and run the project. It’s thanks to our partnership with Compassion that we have the resources for this, and the result is that we’re knowledgeable and effective in our work.
The Project Worker: Elizabeth Odolot – Child Development Officer
When Compassion started partnering with our church, it gave each child the chance to go to school, and to learn additional livelihood skills, like tailoring or soap making.
Spiritually, we want the children to know that there is a God who loves them even more than we do! Our church and Compassion have the same heart: we love Christ, and we want to see children flourish into fulfilled adults.
When a child is poor, they lose hope. They feel as if they have no future, no identity; they feel as if people don’t see them. But when families can sustain themselves; when children get to attend school and be a part of this project… even though they still don’t have much materially, they gain a sense of belonging. They know, ‘There is someone for me. There are people who support me.’ Now they have hope.
We’re committed to each child over the long-term. We love that child. We know that child. We work to protect that child from harm. In our community, there are many bad things, like drug abuse and prostitution… When a child comes here, we get to walk alongside them; we get to teach them strong and positive ways for dealing with the social challenges around them. They know there’s a safe place for them to go, and people who care.
A Vision for Every Child
When I see a child smile, see them playing, I feel so happy… And when I get to see them graduate out of the programme and I can see they’re heading somewhere positive, well, that makes me very excited.
I’ve seen Monica grow spiritually and socially. She’s able to mentor other young people and encourage them. It gives me so much joy to see Monica progressing on her path. I hope she’s going to be a great leader and a great woman of God.
Ours is not easy work: the challenges children in poverty face are very great. But what drives me to keep going is a vision of what I want to see each child become. I want to see that smile. I want these children to become the person they dream of being – that drives me to persevere.
The Mother: Devine
I struggled after my husband left me with our four children. Monica was just two years old, and I was breast-feeding our youngest baby. I was scared about how I would manage. The church visited us and helped provide a better home. Monica was sick with pneumonia and the church supported us with all the medical care she needed. And it was such a joy when her school fees were paid for! She was given all the materials she needed to attend – she’s never missed a day.
A Mother’s Pride and Joy
Now she’s sixteen and is flourishing into a young woman. She loves to share her faith with others and has grown in confidence; speaking boldly wasn’t something that came naturally to her. She’s very hardworking. I feel so proud of her… for example, sometimes we meet people who don’t speak our language, who can only speak English, and she’s able to translate for me – it gives me so much pride as a mother in this community to have such a daughter. She gives me so much joy.
We also get a lot of joy from the letters she receives from her sponsors. I don’t have parents, and my husband left me, so it’s incredible to have someone from overseas who loves Monica and writes letters to her – it makes us all feel loved. We feel like they know us and understand our needs, and we’re comforted by that; comforted to know we’re not alone and that there are people out there who love us and want to share their lives with us.
The Child: Monica
I’m nearly seventeen now and I’ve been going to the project since I was about three years old! I love meeting my friends there, especially my best friend. We play dodgeball, netball, we enjoy skipping and playing on the swings. We also have bible studies, which I really enjoy.
My sponsors are Karina and Tom. They’re very caring – they send me photos and tell me they’re praying for me. They ask me questions, which makes me eager to reply. Maybe if I’d never had a sponsor, I wouldn’t have gone to school. The sponsors mean our church can run this whole project – it’s here that I’ve been supported through my education and learnt about the gospel.
A Dream for the Future
I love learning – I’m learning Swahili, and every word is new to me! I love Geography and English. All our teachers are very helpful. And the project staff – Aunt Kazzia, Aunt Liz and Aunt Susan – they’re all so approachable and caring.
I dream of becoming an accountant. I want to help my mother have everything she needs in old age. I want her to be happy. I want to be able to provide for my whole family; for my three brothers. I want them to know Jesus and to have happy families of their own.
Why Beginning With a Child Works: Beatrice & Cathy – Hosts for Spring Harvest 2023
Beatrice: Today, with Pastor Fred and his church, it was just amazing to see how great they are at understanding the needs of their community and connecting with the people they’re working with. They’re such a perfect picture of the church fully at work. We’ve seen for ourselves, first-hand, how active and incredible the local church is at responding to the needs around them, in being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Cathy: If anyone reading this is wondering about child sponsorship and thinking, “But what can that little bit of money do?” Well, I’m here to say that the difference sponsorship makes is incredible.
When you sponsor a child with Compassion, what you’re really doing is standing with a church community. What you’re really doing is holding hands with some volunteers, with some carers and some parents and saying, “I’m in it with you. I want to pray for your child and stand with you in the best way I can.”
And you then get to be part of this wraparound support package, which not only blesses that child, but it ripples out into the community, into their families… it makes a tangible difference in ways that, honestly, I had absolutely no idea! It’s an amazing gift and a privilege to see how child sponsorship makes a difference.
How do we bring more of God’s upside down kingdom to earth? We begin by coming alongside a child, like Monica.