It has been crucial during this time to adapt how we minister to children in poverty together with our frontline church partners. The mission has not changed, but many of the methods have. Below are answers to some questions we’ve received about how Compassion and our field staff are operating during this crisis. For more information on Compassion’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including updates for each country where we work, please visit our COVID-19 updates page.
[Update as of April 14, 2020 at 3:14 p.m. EST]
Is my Compassion child affected by the COVID-19 virus?
This global pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Compassion’s staff and volunteers are doing everything they can to minimize the impact to the children in our program.
To that end, we have temporarily closed our child development centres in most of our field countries, suspended group activities, and limited contact to home visits for the delivery of medical supplies, hygiene kits, food, water, and other resources to help during this time of crisis. We’ve also suspended all international travel to our national offices and frontline church partners. This means we will not permit international visitors to meet sponsored children, visit Compassion child development centres, or visit national offices.
Compassion’s policy has always been to not disclose health information of children in our program. To learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting your sponsored child’s country, you can click here.
How are staff members engaging with sponsored children? Are they visiting homes?
In some cases, where visits are permitted and staff can do so without putting themselves or others in harm’s way, local church staff members are visiting homes to check on the welfare of children and their families. When/where they cannot make personal home visits, they are using cell phones, texting and messaging apps to conduct regular welfare checkups.
How is Compassion protecting children from the virus?
Compassion staff is taking every precaution to protect the children in our program. We have suspended all international travel to our national offices and our frontline church partners through the end of April. This means we will not be permitting any international visitors to meet sponsored children, visit Compassion child development centres, or visit national offices.
We will be reassessing our travel policy throughout the coming weeks and may extend this travel suspension depending on the situation. As a regular part of our ministry, we teach healthy hygiene practices to children in our program (and moms in our survival program), which reduces the spread of illness.
How are you using my sponsorship funds right now?
Funds previously used at the child development centres are now being used to provide children and their families with necessities, including food, clean water, shelter, clothing, household items, medical care and trauma counselling.
Should I continue sending my monthly child support if my child’s centre is temporarily closed? How will that money be used?
Yes, please stand with us during this crisis by keeping up your monthly support. While the centre is temporarily closed to group activities, that does not mean all activities and expenses have stopped. In some cases, our partner church staff members are visiting homes to check on the welfare of children and their families. They may be delivering medical supplies, hygiene kits, extra food, water and other resources to help families in need.
Can I give to help protect children from COVID-19?
A pandemic like COVID-19 plus the challenges of poverty equals disaster. Health systems can get dangerously overwhelmed in the low-resource settings where we work. Our church partners around the world are heroically delivering essential care to children and their communities in the midst of this global crisis. You can help provide food, water, sanitation, medical and other support by giving toward Compassion Canada’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Can I still send letters to my child? Will I receive any back?
During the temporary closure of most of our national offices and the pausing of group activities in most of our child development centres, the delivery of letters between children and sponsors will be delayed. We encourage you to continue to write letters of encouragement and prayers to your child, but please know that it will take longer for your letters to be delivered, and your child will likely not be able to write back until centres are reopened.
Will my birthday or family gift get to my child at this time?
When a birthday or family gift is given, Compassion’s normal process is to have a staff member consult with the family and then travel, purchase and deliver your gift. During this time, however, that process creates additional burdens and dangers for our field staff.
Because of that, we are now encouraging field staff to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver. This applies to family gifts and beneficiary gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will be notified whether a gift has been designated as a beneficiary gift or family gift. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognizing that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.
Thank-you letters will be delayed until children can safely return to their centres, however, photos will not be required to be fulfilled during the crisis.