Today we visited a Compassion International Child Survival Program (see https://www.compassion.com/how-we-work/compassion-survival.htm and https://survivetothrive.compassion.com/child-survival/). IntelliTect supports five or so of these in Kenya and Tanzania (https://stewardship.compassion.com/intellitect/2023/06/09/launching-a-new-child-development-center-in-tanzania/), but since we couldn’t make it to either country this trip, we are visiting the one in Togo. While we had to go through background checks and child safety training, I expected the visit to be relatively informal, with just a walk around the facilities and perhaps a chance to meet a few of the moms. I was wrong. Compassion International partners with local churches for its facilities, and this was no exception; we met in a church a couple blocks from the Ghana Embassy. When we entered, everyone stood and started singing as a way of welcoming us. The church leadership then greeted us and ushered us to the front of the church. Those who know me can imagine my internal reaction was less than positive as I dislike being made the center of attention, especially regarding Elisabeth and my philanthropy. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to catch myself, change my attitude, and behave. The Compassion International staff, along with the moms with their children, genuinely wanted to thank us for our philanthropy and I accepted their gratitude.
The program started with some wonderful singing and dancing. I would have joined in if I’d known the words. It was beautiful. My only regret was that we couldn’t stay tomorrow and attend the church service.
Next, they proceeded with introductions and a presentation of the data regarding the program. They had stats for their impact and challenges. Although it was French, they had a translator, and we were also able to translate using our phones as they went along.
Following the presentation, several women were courageous enough to stand up and share how the program had impacted them personally. In some cases, it made the difference between life and death for their children. For others, it was the difference between a malnourished child and a parent choosing to go without their own nourishment, so their child has some meager sustenance.
Once the program was over, we walked around to various job tables and interacted with sample job-training stations. We asked lots of questions about the business and its effectiveness. Some were sufficient to help people escape extreme poverty; others were less so, only providing a side “hustle” for students in school.
The weaving station, although it produced beautiful crafts, did not seem viable for the amount of work and time. (Update: When visiting Ghana, we saw weaving machines that required less effort but the earnings were still meager.)
The last station was a playroom where the moms focused on playing with their kids. It was good to see the healthy interactions and coaching that goes beyond survival and helping the parent-child relationship thrive. This is in addition to the home visits that Compassion International makes once a month.
While I didn’t see enough to be able to provide a full analysis of the effectiveness, I’m confident that Compassion International is accomplishing a lot with a small budget and making a significant impact on women and their children. Whether you are a Christian or not, by partnering with churches and leveraging their infrastructure and congregants during the week, Compassion International is able to accomplish so much more on a small budget.
At a cost of less than $50 per month, you can support a child through Compassion International, choosing both the age and location. If you are willing to invest more, consider supporting a child survival program, that transforms the lives of ~25 moms and their children before they turn 5 years old. Or, browse through a host of other investment opportunities to select from.