After spending a few hours with the child she sponsors in Ethiopia through Compassion International, it comes time for Stacey to say goodbye.
The catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday has resulted in unfathomable chaos and devastation for hundreds of thousands of children and families.
Compassion sponsors and donors serve more than 65,000 children in Haiti. At least a third of them live in the areas that were hardest hit.
We are working rapidly to assess the situation and determine the full extent of damage:
- Sadly, we anticipate there will be many deaths.
- We anticipate thousands of children and families will have lost everything.
- We anticipate many of our church-based child development centers will have been destroyed.
Without a doubt, the children we serve in Haiti are in shock and face immediate needs for food, water, medical care, shelter and counseling. We have teams prepared to respond, and we are deeply committed to helping each child.
Please reach out in the name of Jesus to bring relief, comfort, love and restoration to precious children and families whose lives have been devastated by this crisis.
Dr. Wess Stafford
A fairly typical road-side scene
Grace, our group leader from the Compassion office in Uganda, and me at the Nile. She was absolutely amazing!
Me touching the Nile!!
This girl was so cute! She was almost shaking out of her outfit during the dance and song they did for us. I got to interview her and gave her a headband for her to keep. So precious!
Standing outside one of the homes in the slums.
Mark Hollingsworth with Bosco wearing his glasses
The family that gave us shelter during the storm.
Me with Geoffrey and his family in front of his home.
This boy was adorable! He came up to me and said “Good Morning.” I was so excited that he spoke English, but I quickly realized that was all he knew how to say, and someone had told him to come tell me that.
These trees looked like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book
Outside another home that we visited in the slums.
Crafts that HIV/AIDS mothers were taught how to make through Compassion efforts.
Everybody comes to see the muzungu (white people)
The pineapples the one family gave to us as a gift for visiting their home.
In the Child Survival Program, parents learning skills to help increase their income.
One of the mothers in the CSP giving her testimony of how Compassion has changed her life.
Some girls we met on our way to one of the projects.
Uganda seriously has some of the cutest kids. Here are some pictures to prove it.
One aspect that I love while visiting the Compassion Projects are the home visits. This is where I get to see what these kids are going home to everyday and what their living situation is really like. It is a very humbling experience. This is actually life for these kids, no sugar coating at all.
During every home visit we pray for the families. In one of the very first ones, I sat there silently praying asking God what His thoughts are and where He is at in all of this. I cannot describe how quickly I was overcome with God’s love and presence. He was there in the midst of what looked like the worst possible situation ever. Tears immediately starting streaming down my face.
When I went to the project in Masulita, that we’ll be trying to raise sponsors for, lots of kids were around me (like 50) and the project director asked if I would pray for the project. As I prayed for them, again the tears just starting flowing as I looked at all of these precious, beautiful faces feeling so much love for them and so much sadness, but in the midst of all of that an immense amount of hope. God is faithful and His love is just as evident in the “forsaken” areas as the “prosperous” areas.
Today as we were visiting another home where the father had passed away and the mother was raising the children on her own while battling with AIDS, I prayed for them that they would come to know God as their father as they grieve the loss of their earthly father.
Would you join me in praying for all of those who are in need of knowing the reality of a Heavenly Father in the midst of so much loss in the natural?
Today I was in the bush. Literally. We traveled close to two hours away to a town called Masulita. This town has been severely affected from the Lord’s Resistance Army. Those affected from the LRA are now trying to rebuild and recover all that was lost.
We visited Project: UG-554, the Masulita Child Development Center. This project is only two months old and out of 220 children, 219 are still in need of sponsors.
(Enter WJTL & WDAC)
Coming in a little over a month is your opportunity to help sponsor ALL the children in this project. I was so excited to get to spend some time with the kids; blowing bubbles, singing songs and just hanging out with them. If you end up sponsoring one of these children I promise they will melt your heart! Like all of the other projects we’ve visited, we participated in a home visit. This specific one was to the home of Geoffrey.
Geoffrey lives with his brother and is raised by his mom. His mom is an extremely hard worker trying to make a living for her children. Geoffrey was extremely shy and barely said a word or made many facial expressions. However, on the way back to the project we were riding in a van and all the sudden Geoffrey got extremely animated.
Apparently he saw his friend up ahead, and his friend took a spill on his bicycle. (I can relate for those of you who know me…) Geoffrey’s face just lit up and he started laughing so hard. It was adorable. I guess some things do cross cultural barriers… falling is funny no matter where.
Today we visited Uganda Christian University where 153 Leadership Development Program students attend. LDP is the last phase of the Compassion process where the cream of the crop are selected to attend the university free of charge. A HUGE deal.
There I sat with many of those students who lived in living situations like I saw yesterday… one room houses with mud floors and usually at least 5 people living there. I can honestly say that at my house our bathroom is larger than some people’s whole houses. Yet, here are these students with hope, a vision and passion in their eyes. They’ve refused to let their past dictate where they want their future to take them. However, this didn’t come “naturally.” This came with the encouragement and help of Compassion staff and their sponsors.
Many of these students shared how they had such low self-esteem before being admitted to their respective Compassion Project. But through the daily encouragement of the staff at their project and even more impressive the letters from their sponsors telling them that they were praying for them, that they believed in them and that God had great plans for them. If you are a sponsor, I want to encourage you to continue writing to your child. It makes a world of a difference. They truly take your words to heart.
Now these students are passionate about affecting change in their own community. Each LDP student is expected to spend time at the village they came from, giving back to their community and the Compassion project they attended. Giving inspiration and hope to those children, showing them that life can be different. Showing that this outcome is possible for you too!
Uganda was the first country in Africa to implement the LDP program. There are currently 1,800 LDP students worldwide and 300 of them are in Uganda.
Not only are these students filled with vision and hope but an immense amount of gratitude. So thankful for the ways that God has opened doors and provided for them. One girl even told me how she often lays in bed at night just smiling thinking of the goodness of God… Wow.
God is faithful and true to bring about his purposes and intentions and today was the perfect example of that.