Last night, we received our information packages for Lizbeth and Suwanna, our two new Compassion girls. As supper was cooking, I read through the information out loud to my husband and the children. The following is the basics of our discussion.
Lizbeth will be five next month, her birthday is March 25th.
She lives in the jungles of Bolivia, in the heart of South America. She also lives in my heart...
In Bolivia, 23% of people live on less than a dollar a day. The same statistics weren't available for the United States or Canada, perhaps because there are so few of us living on less than $30/month...
Imagine one in every five of us living on less than $30/month?
In our family alone, one of us would live in severe, devastating poverty. Which one of our children would not be able to go to school? Which one of our children would not have access to health care? Which one of our children wouldn't have enough to eat today? Which one would go to bed hungry? None, because we'd give up all that for our children.
When all four family members live in severe poverty, though, they all go without.
Lizbeth's parents both work as much as they can, when work is available... We took that opportunity to explain to the children that their father and I have both been blessed with salary jobs that provide a very stable, reliable, steady income, month in, month out. We are blessed beyond comprehension.
Lizbeth's parents each make approximately $50/month under the best case scenario. That's $100/month in a good month. Not every month is a "good" month.
Could we raise two children on $100/month?
We are committing $35 a month to help deliver Lizbeth from the effects of severe poverty. It may not seem like much... what can $35 a month do for us?
To them, it's a third of their income.
A THIRD of their income.
The kids were all sitting around the table, silenced, thinking... you could see the wheels turning... "How much is a third of our income? How much does that feel like to them?"
We asked them to estimate our monthly 'take home' income... and then we helped them see a "third of our income" from that perspective.
As a basic, hypothetical example, if we were making $5000/month, to us, it would feel as though we're given $1650 to help provide for one of our children.
Imagine if someone provided $1650/month to help provide for your child?
Not only does it help the child overcome poverty, but it gives the family relief in their own meager budget, which helps them feel a bit more hope.
We explained to the children that without this, Lizbeth would not be able to attend school, may be pulled into the work force at a young age, sometimes as young as 8 or 9 years old, out of desperation. Without an education, the cycle of poverty continues.
Where else can you give $35 and feel as though you're giving $1650? If that's NOT the best investment... what is?
Our $35 isn't much... but it's enough to change the future.
And that $35 doesn't just have impact on the immediate, temporary future... but eternally as well. Lizbeth will be provided with spiritual guidance and teaching, Bible study, and a church community. Her parents will also be able to attend classes.
We don't deserve any credit for what we're doing... we're not heroes, Jesus is the true Savior. We're simply following our hearts, and the Biblical teachings of Jesus. Taking care of the widows and orphans, taking care of "the least of these", loving and helping the poor as Jesus did, tithing in a way that really speaks to us.
We're trying to teach our children that it's not about us... it never was. Being here on earth isn't a "what's in it for us" experience... it's "how can we make the world a better place for someone else?" How can we live out the Gospel? In teaching them this, their father is also being exposed to the Gospel, to the notion that this isn't about him either... we're not just changing these Compassion girls' lives, we're changing our lives.
The kids were impacted by our discussion last night... they made the decision right then and there to begin to sponsor their own child as soon as they begin working. They believe in the difference they can make. They believe in the difference we can ALL make.
And then, we introduced them to Suwanna... our sweet Compassion girl from Thailand. She'll be 7 this October, and she lives with two siblings and both her parents.
Severe poverty came to mind when we spoke of Lizbeth to the children. We were just scratching the surface.
Suwanna, that sweet faced girl I am absolutely in love with, lives in Thailand.
When I asked the children to guess how much income Suwanna's family makes, with ONE more child to feed and provide for than Lizbeth's family... even I wasn't prepared for the imminent reality...
Her parents work all month when they can... and if they can work all month, they bring home twelve dollars.
Total family income? $24, best case scenario. PER MONTH.
We are providing this family with more than their monthly income in order to support their child.
Imagine if someone gave you more than $5000/month to support your child?
This left us all speechless.
Supper was ready, the air still heavy with what we had just discussed... as we said grace, I asked them to consider the food in front of them. Just a simple meal... pork chops, baked potatoes, salad, veggies... a meal simple for 5, for roughly $8.
If this were Suwanna's family, their income would provide for 3 such meals in one month.
Our one meal, last night, was worth a third of their income.
A meal worth one third of our income.
It just became a $1650 meal.
Pork chops, baked potatoes, salad, veggies... $1650.
If you look at it again as an $8 meal... 4.5 of those meals would equal one sponsorship.
It was all I could do to choke back the tears.
What can we give up in our lives, that we honestly don't need... our small comforts, the things we're attached to, in order to sponsor another child... What is $35 worth to us, compared to what it's worth to them?
Welcome to the Economics of Compassion. Don't expect to get involved with Compassion and not be moved... not be inspired... not be changed.
Do you feel led to take action?
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It will be one of the BEST investments you've ever, ever made.