Monday, April 14, 2014

Compassion in Tanzania - a letter from a CDSP director


I recently received 5 letters from 5 different Compassion center directors around the world. As much as I love letters from my sponsored children and letters from pastors, these letters are a gold mine!

If you want to know how each Compassion project is run, then this type of letter will give you all that information. Each Monday for the next few weeks, I'll be sharing one of the letters I received.


I don't know for sure, but I would guess that most Compassion projects within a country operate in a similar fashion. So even if your child doesn't attend this particular project, chances are he or she experience a similar thing in their Compassion project. I know that it varies greatly from country to country, but within a country...probably not so much.




And now, letter from Tanzania...

TZ 807 FPCT Chamwino Student Center

Dear Kevin and Jill,

My name is Stanley Mwailah. I am the Project Director of FPCT Chamwino Student Center where your child Joseph attends. This project is located in Dodoma region of Tanzania. I thank God for your support and sponsorship. May the Lord our God abundantly bless you for your kind heart.

Our center conducts programs at the center every Saturday. Children are divided in classes by ages and we use the Compassion curriculum which focuses on four areas of development: spiritual, physical, cognitive and socio-emotional. The children lear the love of God, understand their community, social interactions and have good relationships in community, hygiene and body cleanliness. At the project we are able to purchase for scholastic materials, health screenings and medical treatments, social care and spiritual care.

The adolescents learn self-management, being a responsible person in the community, becoming a servant leader, youth challenges, malaria and HIV/AIDS awareness. In addition, they learn extra curriculum activities like sports and games, tailoring, carpentry, mechanics, masonry, choir singing, computer practice, tutorials and camps.

The center also conducts parental meetings and trainings where they learn income generating activities like micro-business, entrepreneurship and how to become a good caregiving to their children.

We hope that you will continue to write letters. The children feel so good when they receive letters and photos from you. The letters enable them to build a strong bond between themselves. This bond has brought many blessings to our children. Sponsor visits bring blessings to the whole family because the sponsor know the environment of the child, talks a lot with family members, share the Word of God with family and they pray together and this creates a strong bond between child, parents and sponsors.

One again thank you for your compassionate support. It makes a great difference in the lives of your child and other needy children in a community, registered children now are able to attend school, get medication and social care compared to unregistered children in the community. Your support helped our center to make it possible for children and families with no hope to have happier and fruitful lives.

I request you to pray for the sponsored children so that they grow in the knowledge of Jesus and serve Him. Pray that they also grow in skills and knowledge in order to reach their goals and outcomes. We are praying for you, that God will bless you and your family abundantly. Once again thank you so much for your kind heart.

Sincerely,
Stanley Mwailah

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Least of These

The King will reply, 
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did 
for one of the least of these 
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:40


Who are the least of these? I'm sure there is more than one answer to that question, but there is no doubt in my mind that an oppressed child would qualify as one of the least of these.

Children are vulnerable and needy by nature. Add poverty and oppression into the equation and you have a recipe of hopelessness.

According to this verse, Jesus is saying that when we help the poor and needy - feed them, clothe them, pray for them (i.e. sponsor them), we are serving and loving and following Him - Jesus. 


Rattikorn, Wuttikorn, Chawalit and Kannika are all still waiting for sponsors. All four of these children live in Thailand near the Thai/Burma border. Very likely, they are victims of oppression and could use a friend like YOU.

Simply leave me a comment or email me at fiddlejill(at)outlook(dot)com.

Feel free to speak up on behalf of these children through facebook or twitter - help me find a sponsor for each one!  


Joining with Still SaturdayScripture and a Snapshot, Sunday Community, Sunday StillnessWhatever is Lovely and Weekend Brew 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Evening in Burma

Because we were visiting our friends who founded and run Free Burma Rangers, one of our goals of this trip was to experience just a little bit of their mission and work in helping the ethnic people of Burma in the midst of a civil war.

We didn't enter Burma the normal way. There was no checking of passports or official border we crossed. Instead, we piled into trucks and drove on a windy, dirt road that eventually led us into Burma....specifically into Karen state.

We arrived a couple hours behind schedule and the sun was going down. We were visiting an IDP camp. IDP stands for internally displaced people and is another way of saying refugee. Several years ago there were 1000 people living in this village. Last year there were about 600. Because there is a cease-fire in Burma (which doesn't necessarily mean the fighting is done) right now, many refugees have started moving back to their home villages.

We weren't sure how many people we would find still here at this site. As it turned out, there were about 70 people still living here, and they were waiting for us.




Off in the distance of the hills we spotted a man riding an elephant!







We were a group of about 30, and we took turns introducing ourselves and sharing whatever was on our heart with these people. FBR regularly does a VBS-type program when they visit IDP camps called Good Life Club. Because our time was short, there was a shortened version of GLC - the gospel was presented, information about nutrition and health was given and then we passed out gifts.

Somehow my daughter, Sydney, was put in charge of handing out the gifts. What a blessing it was to see her involved in this way. I stood there thinking to myself, "THIS is as vacation worth remembering."




Later these three girls were in charge of handing out clothes to the children. It was fun watching them try to find the right sized child for the outfit they had to hand out.



One of the travellers had an art project for the kids to do...it involved black paint and hand prints. Amazingly, I didn't see any black paint on the new blue and white soccer shirts all the kids got.




Listen...these people...these children are living mere miles from a Compassion project just on the other side of the border in Thailand. I know because I slept at it after leaving this IDP camp. I believe these very children are some of the ones Compassion Thailand hopes to minister to if and when they expand their ministry into parts of Burma and Laos. 




They have been oppressed by their very own country men. They are unwanted and have been driven out of their homes and villages....forced to flee for their lives. Can you imagine having to literally run for your life because you were being hunted down by your own country's army?

Stopping only when you think it's safe...and then having to build a life and home from nothing except the materials you find in nature?

I can't even begin to imagine what these people have endured.





When you sponsor a child in northern Thailand, you are very likely sponsoring a child like one of these refugees. Likely their parents have crossed the border to live in safety from the Burmese army. Compassion is right there on the border...ministering to these children. I know because I've been there.

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would experience what I experienced...you'll learn more about it in my next post...but I was there and I saw.


Please, please, please....consider sponsoring one of these children....


Kannika Lahun
August 20, 2005



Chawalit Papa
November 21, 2010 



Wuttikorn Jasae (Tertoi)
June 30,2010 




Rattikorn Ja-oo (Na-ngha)
September 29, 2010 


To sponsor one of these children, please let me know in the comments or through email fiddlejill(at)outlook(dot)com.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some Obstacles in Thailand

As much as I tried to learn about Thailand before our trip, and even how Compassion is working in Thailand,  it seems now that I'm home, it's all sinking in. Regardless of what you read in a book, there is nothing quite like seeing it with your own eyes and experiencing it first hand.

When it comes to Thailand, here's what we are up against....

approximately 95% of the population (about 69 million) are Buddhist




Most children, including my Orm, are living in a Buddhist-influential environment. Many have parents who are practicing Buddhists. In addition to Buddhism (which is a non-theist religion), animism and spirit worship is also widely practiced.

One Compassion center director says, "Some parents may be skeptical about our program, but when we tell them about the benefits for their children - such as the health checkups, free meals and educational activities - they don't have any problems. They know we will be teaching their children about Christ, but they trust that we will not coerce them into conversion."


young girls and boys often become the victims of sexual abuse
This is actually what prompted us to sponsor a child in Thailand. My husband had heard a report about the horrific problem of sex trafficking and prostitution in Thailand and asked me if Compassion worked in Thailand. I went to Compassion's website and the very first child profile that appeared was Orm's - a young girl in Thailand. The children most vulnerable to this kind of activity live in the city slums. 

many ethnic groups live along the border of Thailand ~ 
Compassion has a large presence and ministry to the children living in remote mountain villages near the border of Burma and Laos. Many of these children are from marginalized tribal groups and are not considered Thai citizens. Sometimes they are denied the ability to attend school. The tribes that live in Northern Thailand include the Karen, Hmong, Mien, Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Lawa (my Orm's tribe), Khmu and Mlarbri. Because they are marginalized by the Thai population and government, they are kept in poverty with little hope of advancement. 


We had the awesome privilege of crossing into Burma and meeting some people of the Karen tribe at their idp camp (idp stands for internally displaced people). Burma has had the longest running civil war in history, lasting over 60 years. These people (and many others) have been driven out of their homes and villages by the Burmese army. 

I'll write more about our visit with these beautiful people next time....

Until then, might you consider sponsoring one of these children from Thailand? These children all live in remote mountain villages in northern Thailand, and are likely part of one of the ethnic tribes I've been talking about. The first girl attends the same project as my Orm.


Kannika Lahun
August 20, 2005



Chawalit Papa
November 21, 2010 



Wuttikorn Jasae (Tertoi)
June 30,2010 




Rattikorn Ja-oo (Na-ngha)
September 29, 2010 


To sponsor one of these children, please let me know in the comments or through email fiddlejill(at)outlook(dot)com.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Gifts

I forgot to take a picture of the gifts we took to Orm, but still thought you might be interested in knowing some of what we gave her...you know, just in case you find yourself in a position to shop for your sponsored child.

First of all, I bought a purple back pack to hold everything, and here's what I filled it with:

  • sheets and cloth tote bag (family gift)
  • purple shirt
  • pajamas
  • socks
  • sandals
  • sketch pad, notebook and coloring book (for an older child)
  • twistables, pens, markers - and a purple carrying case
  • toothbrush, toothpaste
  • bracelets and hair clips
  • soft frisbee

What I didn't expect was for Orm to give us gifts, but she did....

She gave this traditional northern Thai bag with elephants to my husband, the center purse to me and two colorful (identical) purses to each of my girls. We love them!


I also got this pretty cool keychain from Compassion Thailand which I plan to turn into Christmas ornaments. 

They are wooden and I'm afraid if I use them everyday as a keychain, the paint will quickly wear off. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Compassion in Nicaragua - a letter from a CDSP director

I recently received 5 letters from 5 different Compassion center directors around the world. As much as I love letters from my sponsored children and letters from pastors, these letters are a gold mine!

If you want to know how each Compassion project is run, then this type of letter will give you all that information. Each Monday for the next few weeks, I'll be sharing one of the letters I received.


I don't know for sure, but I would guess that most Compassion projects within a country operate in a similar fashion. So even if your child doesn't attend this particular project, chances are he or she experience a similar thing in their Compassion project. I know that it varies greatly from country to country, but within a country...probably not so much.




First up, a letter from Nicaragua...

NI-111  Mirra Olor Fragante Student Center

Dear Kevin and Jill,

My name is Maria Elena Sandoval Vega. I am the Project Director of the Mirra Child Development Center where your child Josseling attends. This project is located in Ciudad Sandino, Department of Managua, Nicaragua. Through this letter I want to thank you for your great support and sponsorship. May God bless you every day because of this.

Children attend the project in the afternoons. They begin with cleaning, praying and singing. Then the teachers use the Compassion curriculum to teach them in four areas of development: spiritual, socio-emotional, physical and educational. Then they receive a snack such as a drink with cookies or a nutritious meal. Teenagers (12 to 18 year olds) after receiving classes on Saturdays, come in the evening to received beauty and pastry making classes, and the boys receive barber classes which help them to be economically self-supporting. Some of them are putting into practice their skills and are receiving a small income that helps them in some of their needs.

Each month we celebrate the children's birthdays. They receive a gift and eat food such as friend chicken, fries and juice, they also participate in excursions to some parts of our country such as the Zoo and other towns. We celebrated Children's Day and Bible Day where all children from different ages march in the community. We train parents with psychologists who teach them about how they should communicate with their children and adolescents. Children receive medical check-ups every year and receive medicine if they need it. Besides this, they are attended to by a psychologist if they have problems.

Children who are 12 years and above fill out their My Plan for Tomorrow (MPT) workbook in order to plan their futures and set goals. Some children have started choosing their career for the future. The project monitors and evaluates the student's MPTs to ensure that they are moving close to that goal. Children are encouraged to study well so that they can score well on their exams and pursue their dreams.

I want to tell you that some children participated in a Complimentary Intervention (CIV) for entrepreneurship where the outstanding students received a gift in cash and bough a shaving machine and they are already using it to generate income. Another group of girls participated in beauty CIV where they received some materials such such as a hair iron, hair dryers and other materials to implement what they had learned.

The children at our project have good manners, avoid crime and are healthy. We have a library for public use and people of the community come when they need something. We have some teenagers who are already baptized and worship God at the church. They study and receive school supplies and some of them are at the university.

It is of great value when they receive sponsor letters because they are happy to know that someone who is far away loves them and writes to them. Besides when they write their sponsors they feel like they are writing their friends and want to tell them what happens in their homes and family. Please continue writing letters, they change the children's lives.

Please pray for four children whose mother passed away that God would give them strength because they are suffering. Please also pray for our children at the project and their families. Pray God's protection over us all.

Thank you again for your support and sponsorship. You are changing lives. May God bless you abundantly.

Sincerely, Maria Elena Sandoval-Vega

Friday, April 4, 2014

Set the Oppressed Free

beautiful girls of the Karen people - an oppressed ethnic tribe in Burma


Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen,
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –
When you see the naked to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Isaiah 58:6-7



I met these young ladies the evening we visited their refugee camp just over the Burma border. This group of internally displaced people, forced to flee their homes and escape the Burmese army - they are hungry for God and any outside help that comes their way. We fed their souls with words of life and encouragement and prayer. We handed out gifts and clothes. We sang to them and they sang to us. 

I also met people who are giving every day of their lives to help all the oppressed people of Burma. People who knowingly and intentionally put themselves between these innocent people and the enemy. They are risking it all in an effort to loose the chains of injustice.

When I think of my own efforts - blogging a few times a week about child sponsorship - I feel lazy and downright useless. 

God help me....help us all learn how to fast in the way that pleases you. 


Joining with Still SaturdayScripture and a Snapshot, Sunday Community, Sunday StillnessWhatever is Lovely and Weekend Brew
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