Central America (MNN) — While Compassion International is best known for providing care for vulnerable children through sponsorship, Regional Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Edouard Lassegue says there are many attributes of the ministry that may go unnoticed, but are inherent to their purpose and their calling.
“We offer a range of support and a range of opportunities to those children and their families that go beyond the individual specific child. We call those ‘complementary interventions.’”
Those interventions include non-formal educational activities that provide greater life-skills training for the children and their families, the development of water, sanitation, hygiene programs that benefit the health of the entire community, and the development of resources that provide food security.
Lassegue states, “Our program is holistic, where we look not only at the spiritual aspect, but we [also] look at the physical, the social, emotional, and cognitive aspect of the children.”
Lassegue says Compassion has one desire for the children they serve. “We want them to be agents of change in their community.”
Food scarcity is common in the communities where Compassion works. And Lassegue says that scarcity has far-reaching impact. “Lack of food makes the vulnerable even more vulnerable.” Young men are targeted by gangs and extremist groups, and young girls are preyed upon by sexual predators and traffickers.
Lassegue is encouraged by the recent passage of the Global Food Security Act as Compassion continues to work on food security for the people it serves. The focus on providing resources in addition to relief is a common goal.
“We want to use preventative actions in order to equip those people to make it through those times of dry season.”
In Central America, Compassion teaches children and their families to plant wall gardens and build chicken coops, and looks at ways small businesses might be launched.
Working with local producers is another goal of the Global Food Security Act, and Lassegue smiles as he sees another thread of common purpose. “We work with them to help them – actually turn them from consumers to producers.”
He recounts the story of a young Guatemalan girl and her mother who, through Compassion training and seed money, now have a chicken farm and a rotation garden.
“That’s the testimony of a little girl, 10-years-old, who’s basically saying, ‘We were struggling for food, but now through Compassion and the local church, we are able to provide for ourselves.’”
Lassegue knows that the real impact to any community — whether through the Global Food Security Act or through ministry like Compassion — is founded in partnership, and he encourages people to pray for strong partnerships. For Compassion, that partnership is through the local church.
“Pray for a strong partnership with the local churches. That is so critical for us, because without the local churches, we have no program in those countries or communities.”
The opportunities are numerous to be involved in Compassion’s complementary intervention programs around the world. Details and testimonies are found on their website.