Saturday, February 23, 2013

Water Statistics

How easy is it for you to get water? For most of us, we just turn on the sink, fill up our cup and enjoy. We turn on the shower and fresh water (hot or cold - our choice) can make us clean. We put our dishes in the dishwasher or our clothes in the washing machine, hit the right buttons, and we have clean dishes to eat off of and clean clothes to wear.

I think the majority of us take water for granted. We don't have to worry about where to get it, if it will be clean and safe.

So let's learn some statistics about water.

800 MILLION people do not have access to clean water (that's 3x the amount of people that live in the US)
3.4 MILLION people will die of a waterborne illness this year and 1.5 MILLION of them will be children
1 in 5  children worldwide DIE from diarrhea - that's more than AIDS, malaria, and measles COMBINED
Every 20 seconds a child will die of a water-related illness

Sound crazy? It's unfortunately true.

This week, I'm going to talk about water - what the reality is today and what YOU can do to make it better.

Let's change the world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Feature!! - Marvin, Kennedy, Byringiro, Alexander, & Liul

The following young men have been waiting for sponsors for over 320 days! Let's end their wait today.

Meet Marvin!
Marvin is 12-years-old and lives in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. He lives with his stepfather and mother (both are sometimes employed) and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed, but some work as laborers and earn about $50 per month. Marvin helps his family by making beds, running errands, or cleaning. For fun, he enjoys playing soccer, running, and reading. Change his story today!

Meet Kennedy!
Kennedy is 12-years-old and lives near Nueva ConcepciĆ³n, El Salvador. He lives with both parents and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed, but some work as laborers and earn about $100 per month. Kennedy helps his family by carrying water, making beds, and cleaning, For fun, he enjoys playing soccer, bicycling, and playing with marbles. Change his story today!

Meet Byringiro!
Byringiro is 12-years-old and lives near Nyagatare, Rwanda (an area prone to HIV/AIDS). He lives with his father (who is sometimes employed) and one sibling. Most adults in this area are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn about $9 per month. Byringiro helps his family by carrying water and gathering firewood. He enjoys playing soccer and participates in choir at his project. Change his story today!

Meet Alexander!
Alexander is 5-years-old and lives near Managua, Nicaragua. He lives with both parents and two siblings. Most adults in this area work in agriculture or maintenance an earn about $134 per month. Alexander helps his family by cleaning. He enjoys playing soccer, playing with cars, and swimming. Change his story today!

Meet Liul!
Liul is 6-years-old and lives near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (an area prone to HIV/AIDS). He lives with his grandmother (who is not employed). Most adults in this area work as subsistence farmers and earn about $18 per month. He helps his family by running errands. For fun he enjoys playing soccer. Change his story today!

If none of these children speak to your heart, I invite you to find one that does. If you are unable to sponsor a child, please pray over these children and that they will find loving sponsors soon.

Have a wonderful weekend!

A Compassion Success Story - Rogerio

The following story is from the Spring 2009 Compassion Brazil Magazine.

"Rogerio's story starts out like many other ones. he was just 2-years-old when his father, Jose Milton da Silva, died in a work accident. His life was turned upside down.

"Rogerio was born in Ceara State, in the northeast area of Brazil, a place surrounded by the many faces of poverty, violence, unemployment, drugs, etc. The unpaved streets were covered by dust in the summer and mud in the winter. The area was plagued with fleas. There was no hope of improvement to a better future, just pain and suffering.

"The boy grew up watching his mother, Raimunda de Souza, working hard as a daily cleaner to make a little money in order to support her kids living in a very small house, almost a hut, made of clay, and covered with asbestos' tiles. Inside it, there was no furniture, just a stove made of clay, without electricity. The family slept in hammocks, not having any beds. The house had a dirt floor, and a very small hole in the ground worked as bathroom. In other words, there was no basic sanitation.

"Rogerios's family faced many needs, a complete lack of everything. One year after the death of his father, his mother started to live with a man that became his stepfather. Antonio, the stepfather, used to drink and spend all the money Raimunda had earned to support the family. It was a hard time for the whole family - Rogerio, his mother and his three siblings.

"Up to the age of 9, he had never attended school - his responsibility was to stay home, take care of his siblings, clean the little house, wash dishes, and do the laundry - the few clothes the family had. He was just 'the boy who took care of his little brothers', so he had no dreams.

"He could never imagine he would become an excellent musician, a pastor and Delegate of Human Rights. However, God had a special plan for Rogerio and put special people into his life to accomplish it. In that hopeless neighborhood there was a woman who used to invite children of the community to go to church with her. After some invitations, Rogerio decided to accept and go with her because he had heard that there was food in that church, and he was so tired of feeling hungry. On that Sunday service, she had taken 40 children and Rogerio was among them.

"Rogerio didn't know that he was receiving much more than food, that God was working in his life: 'I will never forget that day, I ate a lot. There were biscuits and juice, for me that was a feast. What I didn't realize at the moment was that something over there caught my attention, much more than food, something I couldn't understand very well yet', he said.

"God began to surround the boy with special people. Pastor Marcos was one of them. One day, when he was going for another day of work at the Project, he saw a curious, thin, and smart boy approaching him. Shyly, that boy asked: 'Sir, may I take care of your car?' The pastor said 'yes', but he didn't realize what was behind that simple question.

"The sound of children playing together, happy, having classes and having tasty meals was all Rogerio wanted. Asking to take care of the pastor's car was a part of his plan to approach the Project, the children and the meals. He could not realize, at that moment, that everything was part of God's plan for his life, God had control of that situation.

"In that afternoon, Pastor Marcos returned and offered some money to Rogerio, but, to his surprise, Rogerio rejected it and left, happily. The pastor was a little bit astonished because, in Brazil, millions of children 'take care of cars' just to get some money for food. But that wasn't Rogerio's case - he was hungry, of course, but he had his own 'strategy' to be part of the Project. Pastor Marcos invited him to enter and have lunch with the other children. Rogerio was so thankful and happy! Finally, he would have a nice and warm meal.

"The next day, when the pastor came to another day of work at the Project, he found the same boy there, anxiously waiting for him. 'Sir, may I wash your car?'

"For some days, he took care or washed the pastor's car, rejecting the money, and having lunch with the kids. Pastor Marcos was just observing that boy - his attitude of rejecting money was odd.

"Day after day, Rogerio repeated his strategy. But one specific day, when he made the usual question, the answer was a big NO. Rogerio was surprised. So, the pastor said, you are forbidden to take care or wash my car. Just enter, go play a game with the other boys.

"Rogerio smiled, his dream had come true! The pastor invited him to participate in the Project. Now, that thin and clever boy was part of the Project! His dreams did not stop there. He had another objective: to be sponsored. But he had a problem: he was 9-years-old, the age limit at that time in Brazil for it. Pastor Marcos never forgets the image of the boy in front of the Project. 'He was persistent', says the pastor. Due to his persistence and because God had a plan for that courageous boy, Pastor Marcos was determined to fight for it and get Compassion's registration for Rogerio. Finally and against all odds, he was sponsored.

"Rogerio got a sponsor. It was another dream that came true, however his sponsor never wrote a line to him and some of the children used to mock him saying that his sponsor didn't exist because he never received a letter. Rogerio felt hurt, but he knew that his sponsor was real.

"The impact of the Word of God touched so deeply into his soul. In the first week attending the Project, when he hard Edileuza, Pastor Marcos's wife explaining about Proverbs 14:12 (There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death), God opened his mind and heart: 'I will never forget those words, something real changed inside me', remember him. Two years later, Rogerio was baptized at the Baptist Church in Edson Queiroz.

"The boy started to attend school and receive all the support at the project to overcome his difficulties, in order to learn how to read and write very fast, because he needed to make up for lost time. It was also at the Project he met the instrument that would change his professional life: the guitar. The first chords were taught by Maria Aparecida Monterio, Project's coordinator.

"'I taught him the first steps, the basics', she says. But for Rogerio, it didn't matter if she was a specialist in guitar or just knew the basics. He just wanted to play. 'I remember his smiling face. Every time he learned a note, he smiled, excited. Because of his enthusiasm, many children can learn guitar at the Project', she said.

"This was a long time ago. Today, Rogerio is a musical producer - he studied vocal and guitar techniques in a conservatory - and he's also a gospel minster, a worship leader. His ministry is called 'Ministerio Chamar de Louvor e Adoracao' (Calling Ministry of Praise and Worship) and he has already recorded an album. Rogerio composes gospel songs and edifies the life of millions of people through his own story. the inspiration for his art comes from God. 'I can't compose anything if my heart isn't connected with God'.

"Rogerio got married to Ana Aldenira when he was 19. The couple has a handsome 10-year-old boy that dreams to be an engineer. The family has a stable life - different from his childhood - because he was set free from poverty in all of its forms. He is a fulfilled Christian adult. In spite of being an adult, his dreamer boy still lives inside: 'my dream is to be an influence to my generation, always'. The gratitude in his eyes and heart is visible: 'People didn't believe that one day I could become a musician. But my first guitar teacher, Maria Aparecida, always dreamed my dreams and I dedicate my victories to her, to pastor Marcos and to my sweet and hard working mother!'

"Pastor Rogerio is a man of God, a real servant leader. He teaches music at the Project and shares with the kids how God changed his life. He declares humbly and happily that his life was transformed by God: 'I praise the Lord because one day he reached me and gave me much more than I even could think or imagine. I always praise him because He used Compassion's Ministry to help me in my holistic life, and showed me Jesus, the might God the only One powerful to release everyone from poverty and makes us free for his glory.'"

There are currently four nine-year-old boys in Brazil that are waiting for sponsors. You can change their story today. Who knows - maybe he grow up to be like Rogerio! You can be that person in a child's life today!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birthdays

For children living in extreme poverty, birthdays are typically not celebrated or even recognized. Compassion knows that every child is special and unique and every child is cherished. Sponsors are encouraged to send an extra monetary gift to their child for his/her birthday so an appropriate gift can be purchased for the child (it will likely be the only gift they receive). Sponsors may also send birthday cards.

In the past, I've always sent a little extra for birthday gifts and written a letter to my child that they could read on their birthday. This year I decided to go a little more above and beyond and make a birthday card for Isadora. I'm going to do the same for my other girls when their birthdays get closer because it was so much fun!

It doesn't have to be anything extreme but I'm a crafty person so I decided to go all out and make a pop-up birthday card. It's actually super easy I used instructions from this website and came up with this:
 This is the inside after I finished all of the pop-ups but before I finished decorating. She is turning 13, hence the 13. Please notice the thirteen balloons and thirteen strings I painstakingly cut out, glued together, and braided. (It's all construction paper). :)


 The front of the card - "Happy Birthday Isadora" in Portuguese. Please note the thirteen hearts and thirteen stars because she's turning thirteen :) Then she'll open it and see this...

The finished inside. "Te Amo" inside the heart means "I love you" and I wrote our names around the perimeter of the heart. I had Lorenna (who was our interpreter on the visit day in Brazil - we still talk) helped me with the translation. It reads "To my beautiful sister, I hope you have a wonderful day!"

The back. This is something I've done for my friends on their 21st birthday cards this year - writing 21 things I love about them. I decided to do the same for her and write 13 things - because she's turning 13 :)

I'm so excited for her to get it!!! :)

If this has inspired you to make your own card for your child - remember to put your sponsor number and the child's number somewhere on the card!!

Also, please note that if you don't know anything in the language your child speaks and want to make them a card - that's totally fine. Make it all in English and someone will translate and make sure the child knows what you are saying. 

First Letter from Melany!

I would like to share the first letter I got from sweet little Melany in Columbia. She is only five so one of her teachers actually did the writing for her but she signed her name (so.cute) and drew me a picture.

I learned that her favorite hobby is to play. Her favorite foods are rice, meat, and plantains. Her favorite subject is math (same as Isadora!) and she likes cats and the color yellow.

She wanted to share Psalm 23: 1 with me: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." Very fitting for children in poverty!

This is some of the message she sent:
"Melany says that her family took her to the park and she ate ice cream. Melany goes to church every Sunday to pray and sing. Melany tells you that she loves attending the project because she learned how to color and draw. Melany sends you kisses and hugs."

So cute!! I'm in love already :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Updates!

Wow I apologize for the blog silence - yet again. I have a lot of updates to give!

First of all - (I don't want to make excuses) but I would like to share a little more about myself and hopefully you can extend some grace as to why I don't update my blog as often as I would like to.
1. I am a full-time college student. I'm taking like 23 credit hours or something ridiculous and most of my life is taken over by lots and lots and lots of reading.
2. I have two work study jobs and work about 12 hours per week. I work for one of my professors and I am a writing tutor.
3. I am a musician. I play trombone and I'm involved in various ensembles on campus so when I'm not in class or at work, I'm probably in a rehearsal.
4. When I'm not doing one of those three things I do things for fun like write or knit or watch a movie or laugh with my roommates so blogging sometimes gets put on the back burner.

So major updates and things that are coming on the blog this week:
1. I got my first letter from Melany!!
2. Isadora's birthday is coming up and I made her an awesome pop-up card. (I'll show you how).
3. Sent my monthly letters out at the end of last week so I'll post that prompt.
4. Next month I have two Compassion events that I'm super excited about.
5. I just got an email about a really cool event next month that I want to learn more about and then I'll share!

Happy Monday :)