April 21, 2013 is a very special day, and not just because it’s my 35th birthday. It’s also Compassion Sunday. On this special day, people in churches around the world share their stories and tell others about the joys that come with sponsoring a child through Compassion International. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to host the event at my home church, but there is something I can do. I can be an advocate.
My goal is to find a sponsor for one special little guy from El Salvador. His name is Lisandro, and he’s six years old. You can read all about him, and choose to be his sponsor, by visiting my Compassion Sunday Page.
If I get Lisandro and another child sponsored, I win a $50 gift for one of my own sponsored children. Talk about a win-win-win-win!
El Salvador (which means “Republic of the Savior”), which is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts, is both the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. Approximately 5.75 million people currently call it home. It lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire and is often impacted by earthquakes and volcanic activity, both of which occurred last in 2005.
Severe weather (both droughts and heavy rainstorms) also impact the people and national prosperity. It currently has the third largest economy behind Costa Rica and Panama, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It also has a large crime problem, especially gang-related crimes and juvenile delinquency, and boasts the highest murder rate in the world. However, thanks to some successful initiatives gang-related violence has been down over the last year or so.
According to The Encyclopedia of Nations, “The wealth in El Salvador is held by a small minority of the population who made their money from coffee and sugar and have now diversified into finance and commerce. Land reforms and, property redistribution in the 1980s improved the situation for many small farmers and peasants, but there is still a substantial divide between the rich and the poor. According to a report from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), El Salvador’s per capita income is the fifth lowest in the Western Hemisphere (when adjusted to reflect the cost of living).
The health-care system in El Salvador is in a state of disarray. Medical unions are resisting government moves toward privatization, and as a result strikes by hospital personnel have become common. Supplies of basic drugs and medical equipment are often inadequate. Hospital budgets are used up to pay salaries, with little left over for other costs.
The education system in El Salvador is weak. According to the USAID report published in 1998, less than 50 percent of Salvadorans graduate from the sixth grade, only 1 out of 3 complete the ninth grade, and only 1 out of 5 complete high school. The Ministry of Education has worked to improve the quality of schooling in El Salvador, and some of its efforts have met with success. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported in 2000 that programs designed to increase community participation in education at rural schools has increased student enrollment. The school day has been extended as well. Also, in 1995 a program was introduced integrating health care and public works agencies with education initiatives to ensure students had clean water, regular medical examinations, and nutritional monitoring.”
This is where we come in. We can help bridge the gap by sponsoring children in the rural areas of this country—those who qualify as “have nots” in their country. For $38 a month, just a couple of meals out for us here in the United States, someone can sponsor Lisandro and provide both him and his family with access to clean water, food, healthcare, education, and–most importantly–a place where he can learn about Jesus Christ. Compassion International is a top-notch group to work with. You have constant access to your records, and you receive letters from your child regularly. So you know the money you’re giving is doing the greatest good possible. It’s an amazing feeling to know you’re making an impact in a child’s life, even if he or she is halfway around the world. We can do great good as God’s people!
Check out my Compassion Sunday page linked above if you’re interested in getting involved and visit the other Compassion bloggers’ pages to see if the children they’ve selected for this special project speak to your heart.