This article was originally published in Compassion Canada’s 2020 Summer Magazine.

There are a lot of opinions about sponsorship—from your pastor encouraging you to sponsor a child, to your co-worker who thinks it’s a scam, to our invitations to sponsor, and everything in between!

But what do those who were sponsored as children think of child sponsorship? We caught up with some alumni of Compassion’s program to get their reflections on their experiences in the Compassion program and its impact on their lives. Meet them below, then read on to hear their perspectives about their experience in Compassion’s program.

More: Read more alumni stories at cmpsn.ca/alumni.

Meet the alumni

A portrait of Kiwi

Kiwi Cook was part of the Compassion program in Bacolod City and Bulacan, Philippines from 1986 to 2001. She lives in Dallas, Texas and works as a physical therapist. She also speaks regularly on behalf of Compassion at churches and conferences.

A portrait of Ria

Ria Kalaw was part of the Compassion program in Baguio City, Philippines from 1999 to 2013. She works as an accountant in Toronto, Ontario and she and her husband are also expecting their first child together. She is now a Compassion volunteer and recently sponsored a child from the Compassion centre that she grew up in.

A portrait of Silas

Silas Irungu was part of the Compassion program in Nairobi, Kenya from 1992 to 2007. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is Compassion International’s Manager of Media Content for the Africa region.

A portrait of Luciano

Luciano Latouche was part of the Compassion program in Leogane, Haiti from 1993 to 2010. After graduating from Kingswood University in Sussex, New Brunswick, Luciano returned to Haiti, where he works with his church denomination as a youth worker and language teacher.

A portrait of Rechelle

Rechelle Enople was part of the Compassion program in Cebu City, Philippines from 2000 to 2015. She lives in the Philippines where she works as a public school teacher. She also tutors students after school and is involved with her local church as a Sunday School teacher and volunteer in the church’s feeding ministry.

Want to hear more from our alumni? Read some of their incredible stories at cmpsn.ca/alumni.

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We asked five alumni of Compassion’s program to agree or disagree with the following statements.

Here are their perspectives.

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“I came to Christ because I was part of the Compassion program.”

A pie graph showing responses. Kiwi, Silas and Rechelle responded "strongly agree"; Ria responded "agree"; Luciano responded "somewhat agree".

“My mother is a strong believer, so I was introduced to the church at a very young age. However, Compassion played a great role in nurturing my faith and providing me with an awesome community to teach me, care for me, and encourage me whenever I needed it.” – Luciano

“Compassion introduced me to Christianity. I barely knew about Christ and His life or the Bible before joining the program. In Compassion, you become a witness to how God transforms lives and how He communicates with us.” – Ria

“God spoke to me through our [Compassion] Kids’ Camp in June 2004. The theme was ‘Stand Up for Jesus!’ My teacher talked to me privately about Jesus and I had a personal encounter with God, which led me to decide to really ‘Stand Up for Jesus’ starting that day.” – Rechelle

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“As a child, I considered my family to be ‘poor’.”

Graph of responses. Rechelle responded "strongly agree"; Kiwi, Ria and Silas responded "agree"; Luciano responded "somewhat agree".

“As a family we were not able to buy more than what we needed. We lived a simple life and without help, we couldn’t afford proper education. Aside from physical poverty, we were poor in spirit. Everything changed when I entered Compassion and accepted the Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.” – Ria

“I didn’t feel the degree of how poor we were until I entered school and I saw kids who had nicer clothes and shoes, better packed lunches and nicer school supplies and school bags. I don’t know if I fully understood poverty as a child, but I remember that I felt I was less because I was poor.” – Kiwi

“As a young child, I couldn’t tell a difference between my family and other families and therefore didn’t consider my parents poor. It was when I had grown older and could understand the struggles they faced each day that I considered my parents to be financially poor. Being labelled ‘poor’ came with a sense of shame and inadequacy.” – Silas

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“My sponsor is still part of my life today.”

A graph showing responses. Ria and Rechelle responded "strongly agree"; Kiwi responded "somewhat agree"; Silas responded "somewhat disagree"; Luciano responded "strongly disagree".

“I wish I could meet him someday. But I only received one letter from him and all I have is his age and his name. Hopefully, our paths get to cross in the future.” – Luciano

“God blessed me by making me a part of my sponsor’s family, and they treat me exactly like family—encouraging, comforting and advising me. We have communication since I graduated from the Compassion program up to now. Every time I have major decision to make, I update them. They inspired me to be a blessing to others, as well.” – Rechelle

“I have not been in touch with my sponsor. However, my sponsor played a significant role in my life by sponsoring me throughout my time in the program. I consider him to be part of my family for the incredible contribution he made in my life!” – Silas

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 “Compassion’s program equipped me for the future.”

Graph of responses. Ria, Rechelle and Luciano responded "strongly agree"; Kiwi and Silas responded "agree".

“The Compassion program is holistic. In the program, I developed leadership skills that I’m able to use to this date. Also, I acquired a passion for serving and caring for the lost, the least and the last.” – Luciano

“This program really equipped me to be ready to face the world after college not just as a professional but as a mature Christian woman with strong spiritual foundation. During our leadership camps, our training sessions were really geared to help us to grasp God’s plan and purpose for our lives and see how important it is to seek Him all the days of our lives. It didn’t just equip us to be successful in our field of expertise but to be bearers of the light of Jesus Christ everywhere we go.” – Kiwi

“Compassion changed my attitude towards the value of education and learning as many skills as possible. I was exposed to music, carpentry, drama and public speaking. These skills were important in building my confidence and cognitive abilities.” – Silas

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Read more stories from Compassion’s Summer Magazine today!

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.