If you’ve been reading along with us about what meals kids get through Compassion, you know that Compassion’s programs are tailored to each community where we work. Allowing our church partners freedom while following Compassion’s guidelines ensures they are meeting the real needs in their communities in the most efficient and effective ways.

A big part of that is encouraging our church partners to use local resources whenever possible. What exactly does this mean? Here are a few examples of how our church partners have tapped into locally available resources to complement Compassion’s programs:

  • In Colombia, some of our church partners receive food donated by the World Food Bank.
  • In many of the African countries where we minister, governments provide free anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-positive persons.
  • Our Philippines church partners have access to skills training on nutrition and first aid from the Department of Health.
  • In many of the countries where we minister, governments provide free or subsidized education.
  • In Ghana, the government provides free treatment for tuberculosis and free immunization for children up to age 5.
  • In Tanzania, the government provides free mosquito nets.
  • In Haiti, our church partners receive food from the World Food Program and other NGOs.
  • In Indonesia, local individuals have given large one-time gifts to church partners.
  • In the Philippines, some church partners have received educational scholarship grants from an NGO.
  • In Thailand, our church partners have received legal support from International Justice Mission for cases of child abuse.
  • In Brazil, church partners receive treatment for malnourished children through local health centres.
  • In the Dominican Republic, some church partners receive toys from government support.
  • In El Salvador, some schools provide school supplies.

Besides locally available resources, our church partners themselves provide resources for Compassion’s programs. Depending on the church, our partners provide things such as:

  • Construction and maintenance of facilities
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Supplemental food
  • Counselling
  • Volunteers
  • Financial support for especially needy families
  • Some church partners also operate schools and/or health clinics and provide these low-cost options to sponsored children.
  • Some church members with a particular trade skill offer free vocational training to children.

As you can see, what resources are available to our church partners varies greatly between different churches, communities and countries. That’s one reason it’s so hard to universally state what children “get” from your sponsorship dollars. In some cases, your support might be providing vaccinations to your sponsored child. But in other countries, these vaccinations may be paid for by the government. In some cases, you might be providing several meals a week for your sponsored child. But in other places, the local church might have found a local entity who donates large amounts of food to the program.

Taking advantage of these local resources means that your support can go further. If a church partner doesn’t have to spend as much on medical care, for example, their support can go further in educational opportunities. If another church can save some money on food, their support can go further in extra-curricular activities like sports.

Every year, each church partner creates a budget for how they will meet the outcomes we have for children based on the needs and realities in their communities and what resources they have access to locally. Each budget is approved by a field office, and churches send monthly updates for evaluation and monitoring. The freedom to implement our program in a way that best suits each individual church ensures that your support is used to its fullest potential.

Encouraging church partners to use local resources also helps them become more self-sustaining in the long run. In the end, we hope to have church partners who are empowered and equipped to respond to the many needs around them, and your support will be able to go even further.

Written by: Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Managing Editor of Compassion International's blog.