As the world faces the global COVID-19 pandemic, it can seem as though our lives are changing hourly. Without a doubt, people who live in poverty, such as the children and families Compassion serves, will be some of the ones most severely impacted by this pandemic.

The good news is that our local church partners are mobilized and ready, continuing to serve these families, even if things look different during this time. Our church partners have been part of daily life in their communities for years. Now, in a time of crisis, they are able to quickly respond to rapidly changing situations. Here are just a few examples of the ways they are responding.

____

In El Salvador, Compassion centre staff are working hard to provide groceries and supplies to vulnerable families.

A group of volunteers walks up a steep hill with groceries. They are wearing masks.

Clemen and a group of volunteers walk on bumpy paths to reach some of the most vulnerable families in their community with groceries and other essential supplies.

Clemen is the director of Seeds of Hope Compassion Child Development Centre. She and a group of volunteers have negotiated reasonable bulk prices at local markets and are delivering bags of groceries to families in need. While making deliveries, they take the opportunity to remind children and families to follow all the guidelines that have been put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

For young mothers like Kirian, the help is easing an unimaginable burden. She is the main provider for her family of four, usually working as a fruit vendor. But, sales are lower than usual during the pandemic and it is risky for her to continue working. What’s more, many markets are sold out of essentials and others are taking advantage of the situation by price gouging.

“That’s why I am thankful to have this grocery bag because it contains all the essential products that we need during the quarantine,” she says.

Kirian and her son in front of their home with a bag of groceries.

Kirian and Adonay stand in front of their home with a bag of groceries provided by the Compassion centre.

Kirian’s son, five-year-old Adonay, misses the activities at the Compassion centre—but he is looking forward to enjoying the food delivered by Clemen and her team. “I will enjoy eating the beans from this grocery bag. They taste delicious!” he says.

Kirian has a message for Compassion sponsors around the world: “May God bless, care for and protect everybody around the world. Don’t lose your faith, because God can help us. Thank you so much because, without your support, all of this help would not be possible.”

____

In the Philippines, staff are also working to provide essential supplies to families in desperate need.

A Compassion Centre staff member sits at a table with packs of vitamins in front of her, ready to distribute to Compassion-assisted families.

On March 14, the day before the metropolitan-wide quarantine began in the Philippines’ capital city of Manila, Compassion centre staff at Capitol City Foursquare Church distributed supplies such as vitamins to families.

Compassion staff are comforted knowing that Compassion’s regular programming has prepared children to fight the spread of disease long before this pandemic. One of the first things children learn at their Compassion centre is handwashing. It soon becomes second nature. Today, the ingrained habit is one of the most powerful tools they have against the spread of COVID-19.

Regular Compassion centre activities have been cancelled, and seven-year-old Macky is not happy about it: “I miss playing at the [Compassion centre],” he says.

But, Compassion church partners are closely following government regulations that have been put in place in response to the pandemic. “We advised all our children and staff to avoid social gatherings, and for the children to stay at home. Any symptom of fever or cough must be reported to our case workers immediately,” says Pastor Jan, the pastor of Everlasting Good News Baptist Church, one of Compassion’s local church partners.

Compassion centre staff remain in touch with families through technology and have a plan to follow if a child develops symptoms. Despite the temporary closures of Compassion centres, staff continue to support children’s needs through the delivery of food, vitamins and hygiene supplies.

Compassion Philippines’ National Director, Noel Pabiona, shares this encouragement: “Be calm and confidently express our belief that God is in control and sovereign even with the way this virus is spreading. Any crisis is an opportunity to establish where Christ is in our lives. Psalm 56:3 says, ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you’.”

____

In Guatemala, 25-year-old Compassion alumnus, Yonatan, is using his tailoring skills to sew face masks for his community.

Yonatan sits at a sewing machine, wearing a mask.

Yonatan teaches tailoring at his former Compassion centre. With activities at the centre cancelled and a huge shortage of supplies facing his community, Yonatan decided to take matters into his own hands.

“When we heard the news that Guatemala had its first case of COVID-19, all of the people in the community stocked up on supplies at the pharmacies. I was worried about how we could protect ourselves, so I decided to make reusable face masks,” he says.

A close up of Yonatan working on a mask.

Yonatan is the only person producing face masks in the wider region. He knows wearing a mask is just one aspect of helping to stop the spread. He encourages others to take all the necessary precautions.

“Be careful, follow the rules, stay at home, take it easy and trust in our Lord,” he says. “God will always take care of His sons and daughters.”

Yonatan is also thinking of his former sponsors, who are from Italy: “I would like to say to them, keep trusting in God. He will take care of you. You sponsored me and today I’m praying for you because you supported me. Thanks to that support, I am helping my community today.”

____

These stories are just a few incredible examples of what is being replicated around the world by dedicated professionals, volunteers and community members—many of whom are connected to Compassion’s ministry and fuelled by your ongoing support. Please keep them in your prayers—and know they are praying for you, too!

For the most up-to-date information on Compassion’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including how you can help, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.

COVID-19 Updates

Photography and field reporting by Alejandra Zuniga (El Salvador), Edwin Estioko (Philippines) and Javier Elis (Guatemala)

Written by: Alyssa Esparaz

Alyssa brings her passion for youth, justice and Jesus to her role of Writer and Communicator at Compassion Canada, as she works to inspire and equip the Church to live compassionate lifestyles. Her favourite things in the world include her family, basketball, ice cream and riding on airplanes.