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As we’ve spent the week in Kenya, I’ve had the privilege of getting a close up look at the work of Compassion. I can literally walk into any project, point at any kid, and ask to see their file—a thick, 3-ring binder filled with monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports on the child’s health, academic progress, spiritual growth, goals for life, and observations/needs from home visits.

I’ve been given free reign to ask anything, which is dangerous for someone like me, because I’m unafraid to ask any and every question. What is haunting me from this week is that I’ve gotten a glimpse into things your sponsored child simply can’t tell you: [Tweet this]1. I am among the poorest of the poor. What we’ve seen throughout the week is that while Compassion can serve 300 kids within a single program, there are hundreds, even thousands who dream of being accepted. In a project we visited this week, 600 kids applied for 20 spots.

How do the project directors decide? They look for the most desperate, dire situations. They go into the schools, neighborhoods, and local communities to find the children who are orphaned, who are being raised by single mothers or grandmothers, who sleep on dirt floors, who are hungry and live with food insecurity.

5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

Your sponsored child can’t tell you that he or she is the poorest of the poor, the most needy in the slum or area, but know that’s your child.

2. Those Christmas, birthday, and family gifts are changing my life. Before I came on this trip, I always saw the option on my sponsorship form to give a Christmas, birthday, or family gift as something nice to do, a way to give something extra. I had no idea the impact those gifts make before I saw it first hand in the 3-ring binders.

I saw the receipts from how those gifts are spent. A pair of shoes. A pair of pants. Shoes. Socks. A jacket—the only jacket that kid has ever owned. A kilogram of flour or sugar. A bowl and dried fish for a start up business for a parent. Sheets of metal roofing so the home can finally have a non-leaky roof and a way to catch clean drinking water.

Those gifts are likely the only source of your child getting new shoes or a new shirt this year. But when your child grows out of them, they’re passed on to to younger siblings. The food that’s given is shared by the entire family. The small businesses—whether a goat that produces milk or a bag with dirt and seeds that produces vegetables—provide income for the entire family to eat, visit the hospital, and survive.

When you see that option to give a little extra, know that it’s making a bigger difference than you can imagine. [Tweet this]

3. Your support isn’t just changing my life but the lives of my brothers, sisters, and parents/guardians. In order to have the widest possible impact in disrupting poverty, Compassion’s typical policy is that only one child per home can be in the program. At first I thought this policy seemed cold-hearted, but as I spent time in the communities I began to see how much greater of an impact having one child in the program makes.

I asked a group of more than two dozen older students in a Compassion project if their admittance stirred jealousy or resentment from siblings. They unanimously said “no.” Instead, their brothers and sisters were grateful.

5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

The support Compassion provided for them freed up more resources. There were meals that didn’t have to be divided as many ways, clothes passed down, birthday and Christmas gifts that were shared. But it wasn’t just the physical goods, but the education and knowledge. Kids in the Compassion project often come home and teach their parents, guardians, and siblings what they just learned about sanitation, hygiene, social skills, and more. Entire families are being affected by your sponsorship.

4. Your letters mean more than you can know. One of the many things that make Compassion unique is their emphasis on the sponsor/child relationship through letter writing. You may not think that letter makes a difference, but often the students save your letters for many years.

I asked one of the older students what makes a good letter. He advised the following:

  • Respond quickly so the conversation can progress
  • Share what you’re learning and experiencing in your life and about God (don’t just talk about the weather)
  • Tell them about your work, what you do, and what you like about it
  • Offer words of encouragement in their education and spiritual growth

If you haven’t written your child recently, jump online and email a letter on the Compassion site today.

5. A visit from you just might change my life forever. Compassion makes it possible for you to visit your sponsored child anywhere in the world (as long as you cover expenses).

Meeting my child was an incredible joy and made sponsoring her so much more than just making a donation. I looked in the eyes of the life that is being changed. We tossed a ball, blew bubbles, shared lunch, and laughed together. But a hundred-plus eyes were watching, seeing for the first time what a sponsor looked like, knowing that you and I are real and representing God’s love to them.

5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

So it’s worth saving for the trip of a lifetime to meet your kid. I have no doubt meeting your child and their family will not only change their life, but yours as well as you get to see the impact your support is making.

Will you join me and sponsor a kid today? [Tweet this] For only $38 a month, you can make the difference in a child’s life forever. Click here to meet some amazing Kenyan kids (some of whom I met this week) who are waiting for you to sponsor them.