Compassion International

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The presence of dignity doesn't mean poverty is absent

Just because he is poor doesn't mean he can't live with dignity.
Compassion's Child Survival Program teaches that true human dignity is God given because He knew us before we were ever created. He created us in his likeness and saw that it was good.
I traveled down a long, narrow path through a banana plantation owned by the Compassion partnered church until we reached a little mud house. This is where Oscar lives. He lives there with his brothers, sisters, mother, father, and grandmother.
His house was small and made of mud.
There was no grass in front of the house, but the dirt was swept as smooth as a rug. The day's ration of plantains sat neatly on a mat in the sun, waiting for his mother to prepare the matoke.
 Oscar's father stood tall in the doorway boasting a huge grin and waved for us to enter their home. The children were sitting on the dirt floor in a neat row. We were offered the best seats in the house, then they sat in the left over pockets of space. Wallpaper of posters and magazine articles covered the walls. An old scrap of fabric became a custom embroidered tablecloth for their only table. Most of the family members were dressed in their Sunday best because this wasn't any ordinary day. Valued guest were in their home this day.

I noticed that the father did most of the talking, and the mother sat quietly and smiled. She was being submissive towards her husband in order to show honor to him in the presence of their important guest. He passed around some photos of their wedding. He was so proud of his beautiful bride and wanted all of us to see how gorgeous she looked in the gown that she had created using the sewing skills that she learned at the Compassion center. The program had a year long plan. They would teach the women income generating skills and celebrate with a group wedding. Oscar's parents had been together 20 years, but through Compassion they now have a marriage covenant with God.
The reception was equally as nice with tables filled with beautiful cakes the women created from baking and cake decorating skills taught at the center.
We walked outside to help with the laundry, but we weren't much help at all. We planned to serve this mother who faithfully works to care for this family, but we knew very little about this type of labor.
The mother whisked us away from our chores. She wanted to show us the kitchen that her husband and oldest son had built for her. We did not see anything special, just a little hut built on to the back of the house. To her it was her dream to be able to cook under the cover of a roof during the rainy season that would soon be approaching.
This family does not have any of the modern luxuries that we consider necessary for survival, but what they do have, they take care of  because they value and appreciate it.
The father showed us his harvests of millet and ground nuts.
He was especially proud of his silo that stores millet for use during the hunger season.
As our time together was coming to a close, the mother disappeared and then returned with a basket on her head.

It was a gift for us. The basket and the cloth were both handcrafted by her using skills learned in the Child Survival Program. Inside the basket were the finest mangos from her harvest.

This family lives in extreme poverty, but they do not lack dignity.

Compassion International works strategically to help the poor maintain their dignity by teaching  skills that will help families bring themselves out of poverty.
Compassion also understands that everyone likes to look nice, so they take pictures of these children in their best clothing.

Compassion teaches that just because a child is poor, it does not mean that a child is less valuable.

When a child knows that God values them, and that you value them, they find it easier to value themselves.

 SPONSOR A CHILD and pour Jesus into his or her life through your letters so that this child can live with dignity in the midst of extreme poverty.


  1. This is such a wonderful example of the dignity of this family! I had tears in my eyes by the end!

  2. Such a beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing this! I loved reading about Oscar and his family...and your time there. It reminds me of a couple I met in the DR...they also welcomed us into their home, fed us the most amazing meal and showed off their new "addition" to the house for was a 3-walled hut but they were so happy that they could now offer their home to others. It's amazing to see glimpses of God's grace and dignity even in the midst of dire poverty.

  3. Thanks for reading Hannah! I just love the way that the pastor of this church and the Compassion director put their heads together to strategically lift the church out of their sinful lifestyle, while teaching the mothers of preschoolers skills that they can use to help financially! They also hold marriage seminars to keep these marriages strong!