Teaching Children Compassion

J Boy made a comment yesterday which made me smile. He was carefully examining the ‘mugshots’ in a leaflet we had received from an aid organisation.

“Those little boys and girls are all waiting for people to send them money so they will be able to go to school and their families can have some food to eat.” I explained.

“Oh, is that why they are so sad?” J Boy questioned, “They look as sad as a snake who can’t find any mice.”

It was his analogy which made me smile. I have no idea what made him compare the faces of disadvantaged children to hungry reptiles, but it really wasn’t a bad association.

We feel blessed as a family that we have secure finances that allow us to support a child living in Brazil. We started before the little girl began school and this year she has commenced high school. It is always a thrill to receive her picture and updated information and we communicate regularly through letters. It would be our ultimate dream to one day visit her. Although with the prospect of travelling with triplets, I suppose this will have to remain in the long term dream box!

Our sponsor child is with ‘Compassion’.  We have been impressed with this international aid agency. Our money is used directly for the child and her family. Like many other programs, we receive regular updates, photos, (although I wish these came annually rather than biannually), progress reports, and opportunities to participate in other projects, particular during crisis periods. We are able to give extra at Christmas time which enables every child in the program to receive a Christmas gift.

It is important to the Accountant and I that this is a Christian based program. The program participants do not need to be a Christian to receive assistance, but we know that every child in the program is given the opportunity to learn about Jesus. Since it is our love for Jesus that prompts us to reach out to the needy, it’s nice to know that children will be taught about God and associate that it is God’s intervention that is making a difference in their lives, even more than assistance from humans.

Something I have really appreciated as well is that Compassion gives me opportunity to teach my own children about other children who are less fortunate than themselves. This can happen not only by reading the letters to my kids or getting them to draw/write back to their ‘sponsor sister’, but also with the regular magazines that we receive. There is often a kids section. By using these resources we have been gently introduce J Boy to another world that is less fortunate then his own.  This week he was colouring in a picture of a child in South America after a discussion about how some children aren’t able to go to school, they don’t have clean water to drink or hygienic toilets to use.

Last year there was a particularly good booklet designed especially for children that we used. It had puzzles to cut out, cards with children from other countries to play memory with, short articles to share with children, games etc. These things can be wonderful springboards to helping children awareness of international concerns.

Teaching your child to have compassion for the needy does not have to be a heavy duty affair. It can be simple conversation. It can be remembering them when we say grace at night or praying for them during bed time prayers. It can be flicking through a magazine and pointing out a picture of an African child who is hungry or a South American child living in inferior housing. We don’t need to shield our children from the suffering in our world. We need to direct them to feel compassion for these people while at the same time knowing that even if it is only one child at a time, we can make a difference to others lives. These are the lessons of life that I consider an integral part of my child growing up to be a empathetic person who will be determined to make a difference in this world.

Do you have a sponsor child? How do you communicate to your children about those who are less fortunate?

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  1. We have 4 gorgeous Bolivian children, 2 boys and 2 girls, they are all within 100kms of each other in case we ever get the chance to visit them. Having sponsor children is a wonderful way to teach your own children just how fortunate they are. When my kids complain about not getting McDonalds enough, or not getting to see every movie they want to at the cinema, I gently remind them that they are so fortunate for all the little things we do, as our compassion kids would never get a take out meal or get to go to the cinema. The kids take turns in writing to the kids, and it is really great for them to get to know their Bolivian brothers and sisters. On our compassion kids birthdays we have a typical Bolivian meal, and a birthday cake to celebrate, then we pray for that child and their family.

  2. We too have a sponsor child, at present an 18yr old boy from Rwanda. He’s our fifth sponsored child. We have had one after another since we married, only the last few years with Compassion. My greatest regret regarding the whole thing is that even though I’ve written regularly the contact never continues when they become adults.

  3. Our sponsor children are from Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Haiti. I wish I was better at letter-writing! I treat it as such a chore, really, you’d thing I had to go and pluck a goose for a quill and make my own ink, the way I avoid putting a pen to paper. I really need to write to our sponsor children more. Much more.

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