What is Compassion International?
Compassion International is a Christian child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. Compassion International, headquartered in Colorado Springs, functions in 26 countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, Kenya, and India. They also currently help more than 1,200,000 children. The current chairman of the board is Karen Kemps Wesolowski. Dr. Wesley K. Stafford is the current President and CEO.
The Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association was founded in 1952 by Reverend Everett Swanson to help children orphaned by war in South Korea. He traveled there to preach the gospel to the troops of the army but during his visit he saw children orphaned by the war.
In 1953, he began to raise funds and the next year he developed sponsorship programs to help support orphans for a few dollars a month. The name of the association changed to Compassion in 1963, inspired by Jesus' words "I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry" (Matthew 15.32).
Compassion International accepts contributions from a number of countries. Below are details on some of them.
The same year Compassion Canada was formed. This is the organization's Canadian branch. Based in London, Ontario, it was founded by Bob and Janet Forsyth of Blenheim, Ontario, who wanted to expand Compassion's ministry from the United States to Canada.
Compassion Suisse was formed in 2003. This is the organization's Swiss branch. Up to 2009, the organization had its offices in Concise VD. In the fall of 2009, the base of Compassion Suisse was moved to Yverdon VD.
Compassion helps those in impoverished areas using a holistic three-phase approach. This approach goes well beyond simply providing food and medical aid and also involves education and training to prepare the individuals for contributing back to their community.
Child Survival Program
The first stage of Compassion's model is their Child Survival Program. This program provides prenatal care, nutrition, health care, infant survival training, spiritual guidance and education and support through the local church for mothers of at-risk infants.
Child Sponsorship Program
The second stage is sponsorship of children. Children in the program are provided food and clean water, medical care, education, life-skills training and spiritual guidance through a direct sponsorship. Sponsored children are selected by the sponsors and two way communication is encouraged between the sponsored child and the sponsor. As of February 2010 the cost to sponsor a child through Compassion is $38 per month. There are currently over 1 million children worldwide in this program.
Sponsors are able to visit their sponsored children through trips planned by Compassion International. Compassion's goal is to provide a trip to each country ever other year. Compassion coordinates every aspect of the trip including travel, meals, tips and gratuities, fees related to the travel and sightseeing fares.
Leadership Development Program
In the final stage of Compassion's approach is the Leadership Development program. This program is available to graduates of the Child Sponsorship program and provides leadership related training from various sources. This program ensures that poverty is not a roadblock for tomorrow's leaders to reach their full potential.
Countries of operation
Compassion provides child development aid to children in 26 countries. Each country office is staffed by local country personnel. Countries include: Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Ethiopia, India, El Salvador, Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, Guatemala, Colombia, Kenya, Philippines, Haiti, Ecuador, Rwanda , Thailand, Honduras, Peru, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Togo, Nicaragua, and Uganda.
Compassion International currently holds a rating of four stars (out of four) from Charity Navigator, a grade of "A" from the American Institute of Philanthropy and met the "20 Standards for Charity Accountability" from the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.
An empirical study published in the Journal of Political Economy showed that the sponsorship of children through Compassion International resulted in significantly higher rates of children completing school and greatly improved adult employment outcomes.
The study, conducted by a University of San Francisco professor and involving 10,144 individuals in six countries, showed the probability of a child completing secondary school by 27%–40%, completing a university education by 50%–80%, and obtaining a white-collar job as an adult by about 35%.
The study involving Compassion International was the first published study to investigate whether such programs such as those offered by Compassion actually benefit the children they intend to help. Evidence from the study points to the positive effects of child sponsorship on the adult life outcomes of these children.
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