International (MNN) — There are nearly 800 million hungry people in the world. About 20 million are on the brink of starvation. Droughts, war, and political instability have taken their toll on the developing world. Hunger and poverty can be fought, but for lasting change, it has to happen intentionally with one individual and one family at a time.
This is what Compassion International does through their child sponsorship programs. Children are fed, given critical medical care, and have access to education. Additionally, they learn about Jesus and get to grow in relationship with Him. But that’s not all.
The working relationship Compassion has with local churches provides an avenue to both assess and address the particular needs of families in different communities. For example, a family who is struggling to get enough food and establish a livable income could benefit greatly from the gift of livestock. Animals that produce edible goods like eggs and milk provide something for families to eat and sell.
Right now through their Act for Compassion program, a campaign called “Kids for Kids” is underway. It’s raising money to give baby goats (kids) to children and their families.
Keri Assante of Compassion International explains the campaign: “People who really care about kids in poverty, especially people who care about improving nutrition or the income of children in need and their families, those people can actually create their own online fundraisers. So they’re getting their friends and their families on board to join them in this cause and they’re raising money specifically to give goats to children who are in need and their families.”
The goal was originally to raise enough money for 100 goats, about $10,000. However, the latest numbers show that over five times that amount has been raised so far, with about 130 people participating. But the fundraising for goats isn’t over. Why? Because each of these goats can have an exponential impact on a family. So, the more goats, the merrier.
Assante says, “In the developing world, a gift of a goat can truly change the future of a family. So, it helps on a couple different of levels. When you give a goat to a child and their family, that gives them milk. So milk they can drink, and they can sell it to earn money.”
Goat milk is rich in vitamins. So even though their meat is also rich in protein, most families will keep their goats for dairy. They can provide 200 gallons of milk a year. And through the course of the year, they can also have an average of three offspring.
Act for Compassion is an online resource — a community of people who are passionate about changing the lives of children for the better. The website provides several ways to get involved with campaigns like “Kids for Kids”. First, people can start their own fundraiser for a campaign. Secondly, they can start an online sponsorship campaign which encourages friends and family to consider sponsoring featured children. There are also a few miscellaneous ways to be part of this work, including volunteering. Since this program was created by Compassion, 100 percent of the funds go to the projects. Participants receive step-by-step resources to increase the impact of the campaign.
The underlying goal of projects like these is to provide holistic care to children in need and their families as a way of fighting poverty. This means that sponsors, the Church, and Compassion International have linked arms to help children develop in heart, body, mind, and soul.
“It’s kind of those three groups working together to make sure these programs are working, to make sure these children have the resources they need,” Assante says.
On the heart level, children experience genuine love and care for their well-being through the teachers they interact with at school, as well as from their sponsors. Their body can grow healthily when they receive physical nourishment and are educated in nutrition and hygiene. Their mind is engaged through education and vocational and skills training which is made possible when fees are paid and resources provided. Finally, they grow up in an environment where their relationship with God can grow.