My child sent me a friend request on Facebook. What should I do?

Compassion has established guidelines for correspondence to ensure the safety of children and sponsors. All communication must be channeled through our ministry. Please do not respond to or pursue communications through Facebook or other social networking sites. You may contact our Contact Centre at info@compassion.ca or (800) 563-5437 to notify us if your child or his or her family member attempts to contact you in this way.

My child is no longer in Compassion’s program. Can I still have a visit?

When a child leaves Compassion’s program, contact may become very difficult. If your previous Compassion child left Compassion’s program less than six months ago, a visit may be possible, though we cannot make any guarantees. Please contact us at fieldexperience@compassion.ca so that we can review your specific situation.

Can I visit a Compassion Child Development Centre, even if I don’t sponsor a child in that country?

During a visit to a centre, you will have the opportunity to meet local staff members and spend time with some children that attend the program at that location. Please check the Register your Visit page.

I am not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend or family member who is. Can they visit my child for me?

Yes, they can! The same guidelines apply for your friend or family member to visit your Compassion child. We will make sure your child understands that your friend or family member is visiting on your behalf.

When will you tell my child I am visiting? Can I write my child and tell him or her that I will be visiting?

Compassion’s policy is to not inform children of a potential visit until everything is confirmed on both sides and a sponsor has arrived in country, to minimize the chance of disappointment if plans change. However, it is possible that a child might inadvertently become aware of the visit as our field staff are checking with local staff members, parents, etc. to make arrangements for the visit.

I am not able to travel to my child’s country for a visit. Can he or she travel to Canada to see me here?

Unfortunately, Compassion does not allow Compassion children to be brought to Canada for visits. The only way to meet your Compassion child in person is if you travel to their country on a Custom Visit or a Sponsor Trip.

I’m traveling to a country near my Compassion child. Can I still meet him or her?

Compassion is not able to bring children across international borders, so you will need to arrange transportation into your child’s country in order for a visit to be possible.

Is there an age limit for Custom Visits?

Because Compassion only facilitates the visit day itself and is not responsible for international travel, there is no minimum age requirement for Custom Visits.

Can I contact the field office directly to arrange a visit?

Compassion Canada will act as a liaison for your visit. Our guidelines require our Compassion Canada office to be involved to ensure timely and accurate responses to questions, and the prompt acquisition of necessary information. The field offices expect to work through the Compassion Canada office to arrange visits, so if they start working directly with sponsors, even with the best of intentions, often expectations are not met and the quality of the arrangements and plans can be affected.

What is the value in meeting my Compassion child?

A personal meeting is a deeply significant event. A child in poverty struggles with a deep-seated belief that he or she is insignificant, powerless and hopeless – a belief that perpetuates a poverty of spirit. Nothing says, “You are special, valued, significant and powerful” like a visit from a child’s sponsor - it is a life-changing event! The surprise is that the sponsor often feels the same message from his or her Compassion child – this interaction is nothing short of a truly sacred encounter. We encourage you to read the stories of other sponsors who have met their children on our Why Custom Visits page.

Can I give cash to my child or their family?

Visitors may not give cash directly to the student centre staff, Compassion staff, the child or student, or their family. Giving cash to your child or family may cause conflicts and generate negative attention within their community, so we ask that all gifts be given through Compassion Canada. By doing so, your donation can be appropriately recorded and we can ensure that it will be used responsibly.

Is there a cost for me to visit my Compassion child? What charges should I be prepared for?

Yes, there will be costs incurred with a custom visit. Compassion requires visitors to cover any costs incurred, which may include but are not limited to transportation, host services, meals and lodging. The expenses involved in a visit day depend on the logistics necessary to accomplish the visit. Because each visit is unique, the costs can vary widely and may be anywhere from under $100 up to $1,000 or more, depending on the logistics. When we arrange a visit, our field office will provide an estimate of any anticipated expenses when they confirm a visit date. We are not able to provide a specific estimate prior to this.

Why are background checks required and what is the cost?

It is the policy of Compassion International to protect children in our programs from abuse by instituting reasonable guidelines and procedures to direct the interactions of Compassion International staff, partners, sponsors and other visitors with Compassion beneficiaries. In accordance with our Commitment to Child Protection, Compassion requires a Background Check for all adult visitors (legal age in your province) who are meeting any beneficiary of a ministry program. This includes arrangements to meet any Compassion child or Compassion Centre. Compassion's background checks are valid for one year. Any cleared check(s) that may have been completed can be submitted however they must have been completed within the last year from the preferred travel dates.

Each adult visitor will be responsible for paying the fee as well as submitting the information to our third-party vendor, MyBackCheck. Instructions for the background check will be provided upon registration for a visit, and completion is required before a custom visit can be confirmed.

Will I need a passport and/or visa? If so, how do I obtain these?

A passport is required for all travel outside of Canada. Since you are responsible for arranging your travel, it is up to you to research whether there are any other entry/exit requirements for the country you are traveling to. We recommend checking www.travel.gc.ca for information for citizens of Canada. Travelers who are not Canadian citizens should look up information provided by the government of their respective country. Each traveler is responsible for the cost and schedule of obtaining the correct travel documents for their own trip.

Will Compassion arrange my international travel?

With a custom visit, Compassion only facilitates the visit day itself, so you are responsible for all international travel and lodging, as well as your activities during the rest of your time in the country. We recommend you contact a travel agent for assistance if you are unsure of making these arrangements on your own.

I just learned about my trip and can’t give eight weeks notice. Can I still meet my child?

Although Compassion asks for a minimum of eight weeks advance notice, we recognize that in some cases sponsors may not be able to provide such notice. Please proceed with a request form. We will be happy to review your travel information and the logistics necessary to accomplish a visit to determine if a visit can be arranged. Please note that Compassion has limited resources available for arranging and hosting short-notice visits, and approvals are limited. If a visit will not be possible, you may want to send a monetary gift to bless your Compassion child and their family.

Why do you ask for so much advance notice?

Our local field office staff are responsible for coordinating and hosting all trips and visits for Compassion’s global constituency. This includes not only Compassion Canada, but all of our partner countries. The advance notice provides the field office time to balance incoming requests with previously scheduled trips and visits. Visits can also require considerable coordination between your child’s family and local Compassion staff, the field office, our Canadian office and you.

Why am I not able to visit my child on weekends or holidays?

We do not ask Compassion representatives to host weekend visits out of respect for their personal family and worship time. During holidays, our field offices and student centres close to allow children and staff members time to celebrate with loved ones. Children are not required to be in the area to attend the Compassion program during holidays, and many travel with their families to visit relatives in other areas. Additionally, our staff members, most of whom are volunteers, are also given this time off. It is important for staff members to have time to rest, so that they can return to their work of serving the children with renewed hearts.

Can I meet my child’s family?

A child will be accompanied by one parent or guardian during a visit, and if you visit your child’s home, you will have the opportunity to meet additional family members. If your child will be brought to another location for your visit, and you would like additional family members to come as well, please let us know when you register for your visit.

What activities will a visit itinerary include?

Our local field office will recommend activities for your visit, and you may also share your preferences with us, including such activities as a visit to a park or a zoo. We also recommend that you visit your Compassion child’s home and Compassion-assisted child development centre if possible.

Do I have to travel to my child’s area, or can he or she be brought to me?

We can coordinate plans for you to travel to your child’s area or we can bring your Compassion child to your location for a visit. Please share your preference when you register for your visit. If a visit to your child’s area will not be safe, our field office will notify us of this when we submit your visit request to the office, and suggest an alternate meeting location in a safe place.

How long will I be able to visit with my Compassion child or children?

A typical visit is limited to a single day, averaging 2-6 hours. If you are visiting more than one child, we may be able to honor additional visit time with a maximum of 3 days.

What does a typical visit day look like?

With a typical visit, you’ll meet with your Compassion visit host and then be introduced to your Compassion child. Children are normally accompanied by a parent or guardian as well as a staff member from their Compassion-assisted child development centre. If you visit your child’s home and centre, you will see where your child attends the Compassion program and learn about their day-to-day life. If you have your visit in another location, you will share an activity together. In both instances, you will have time to get to know your child, ask questions, exchange gifts, and share a meal.

Is my visit considered a group or an individual visit?

An Individual Custom Visit is when one sponsor visits one or more children they sponsor. The sponsor may bring other family or friends as guests on their visit. A Group Visit is when two or more sponsors are visiting two or more children whom they sponsor separately. The following examples may help you determine which visit request form to submit:

  • I would like to visit my Compassion child in Kenya, and my five friends who are traveling with me would like to come along on the visit. Please submit an Individual Visit Request form. Your friends will be listed as your guests on your visit.
  • My husband and I sponsor three kids in Peru. We will be going there on vacation and would like to visit our sponsored kids. Please submit an Individual Visit Request (since you and your husband sponsor the kids together).
  • My sister and I each sponsor a child in Ecuador, and we would both like to visit our Compassion children together while we're there. Please submit a Group Visit Request (since you each have a separate sponsor number and separate Compassion children).

Do I need to contact anyone after I arrive in country?

Yes! Please contact our field staff by phone after you arrive. The numbers will be provided to you before you leave for your trip. This is very important, as our field staff members need to know that you have arrived safely so your visit can go forward as planned.

What happens if Compassion is not able to approve my visit date?

If your visit is not possible, you can choose to send a monetary gift to bless your Compassion child. Although at times a face-to-face visit is not possible due to challenges such as holidays or short notice, please be assured that if you send this type of gift, your child and his or her family will be very blessed by your thoughtfulness.

What does the visit process look like?

When you have a firm idea of when you would like to meet your Compassion child or visit a Compassion centre, please select the type of trip that best meets your needs, and then fill out a request form to register for a visit. Once we have reviewed your information, we will contact our field office so that they can approve a visit date and start coordinating your visit logistics. In the meantime, we will need you to complete a few visit requirements in order for us to proceed. Once our field office has approved your visit date/dates and your requirements are completed, we will then contact you with the visit itinerary and list of estimated expenses that you will need to pay for during your visit. If you can confirm all of the details, we will then provide you with contact information for your visit host and our field office, so that you can get in touch with them upon your arrival in-country.

Do I need to get any immunizations?

We are unable to give medical advice, so it is important to consult with your physician, local health department or Travel Clinic for information on required and recommended immunizations for the country where you will be travelling.

Can I bring gifts to my Compassion child?

Absolutely! You are welcome to bring gifts for your Compassion child and their family. Please view our list of gift suggestions to help you choose the perfect gifts for this occasion.