Pivot was likely one of the most overused and most meaningful words of the past fiscal year.

Everyone everywhere needed to adjust their daily lived reality as the coronavirus spread across the globe. Compassion Canada is part of Compassion’s Global Partner Alliance. We operate independently and are accountable to our generous Canadian donors and to Canadian laws. However, our covenant charter with 11 other nations empowers us to maximize our impact globally and to adjust quickly in the midst of a global crisis.

Our strategic partnership enables Compassion to take a long-term approach to the holistic child development work we do in 25 countries in order to help more than 2.2 million children living in poverty fully mature in every facet of life and overcome generational poverty. Our wide base of support, from more than 1.5 million individuals, churches and groups globally is robust, a mix of financial and non-financial support that grants Compassion stability and has revolutionized the fight against global poverty.

Children in a Compassion centre in Brazil

Our whole-life care, delivered in Jesus’ name by our frontline church partners, is tailored to the individual child’s physical, spiritual, emotional and relational needs, while addressing the contextual needs of their family and community. The significance of long term, church-driven and community-based sustainability became even clearer during the global pandemic. Because of it, and our commitment to persevere no matter what, Compassion was able to quickly adapt during nation-wide shutdowns.

COVID-19 served a critical reminder that adaptability is essential in all that we do. It taught us that we must continue to hold tightly to our mission and yet remain open-handed with the way in which we deliver our program, something we commit to do as we navigate the post-pandemic world.

How the pandemic impacted Compassion’s program in the past fiscal* year?

In response to government lockdowns and quarantine in every nation where we deliver program, we found ways to empower the local church with a home-based approach to provide a basic level of care and support to meet critical needs:

  • Funds previously used at the child development centres were used to meet individual urgent and critical needs of the families of children registered in the program, including food, clean water, shelter, rent support, clothing, household items, medical care and trauma counselling.
  • Where government restrictions barred food and non-food distribution, we used grant funds to distribute cash to families directly, using mobile phone cash transfer systems.
  • Compassion staff and volunteers in each country have provided trauma counselling, spiritual encouragement, Bible studies, tutoring and found other ways to connect with Compassion children remotely, leveraging technologies like WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, radio, text messaging and social media.
Compassion children washing hands during pandemic

While many of these measures were a response to the disruption of the pandemic, the outcomes must be lauded. Due to the urgent nature of the crisis and its wide array of impacts, Compassion’s heroic frontline church partners have seen incredible results:

  • Improved sanitation habits in the communities where we serve, which optimizes health benefits at the household level.
  • More effective and efficient virtual platforms and training to support the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual needs of children and families.
  • Delivery of close to 3 million food packs to the children and families they serve between April to July.
  • Over 9,500 Direct Cash Transfers between April to July to enable families to purchase necessary food and supplies.
  • New partnerships with local radio stations to provide COVID-19 prevention messages, faith-based curriculum and support to Indigenous communities without access to internet technologies.
  • Increased partnership between government agencies and Compassion to improve the lives of beneficiaries.

The pandemic will have a long- lasting impact. We already know that supply chain disruptions could, according to the World Food Program, almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020. The disease has forced more than 1 billion children out of school, depriving their access to nutritious meals provided by programs operated out of schools.

The social and economic impact of COVID-19 are, in a word, catastrophic. The statistics above highlight the importance of our program for children living in poverty. As Compassion International President and CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado aptly notes:

“The need for Compassion to reach more children in less time is a moral imperative that has only become more urgent.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored for us that creativity, adaptability and open-handedness are more necessary than ever as we think about how we deliver our program. Globally, we rose to the challenge this year. We are confident that, with God’s continued grace and the generosity of our donors, we will continue to rise together as the church to meet the critical needs of the children we are called to serve, both in the short term and long into the future.

* Note: Compassion’s fiscal year begins July each year.

Written by: Andrew Kooman

Andrew is Compassion Canada's Editorial, Content + Public Relations Manager. With a love for well-told stories, he has a background in film and theatre, and is fuelled by faith and coffee.