As parents, my husband and I live our lives to the soundtrack of endless questions. “Why don’t dogs brush their teeth?” “How does Rapunzel wash her hair?” and – my personal favourite - “who babysits for Jesus when Mary and Joseph go out?” With good humour, and a fair bit of patience, we fumble a response to most of these, but occasionally something stops us in our tracks.
“Mummy, why is there a sad girl on TV sleeping in a rubbish dump?”
Kate and her daughters reading letters from their sponsored child.
I could cobble together an answer about global economics, global politics and the nature of our fragile and broken world. But the truth is, I really don’t know. I have no idea why, in a world where we have more than enough to go round, there are children who have no choice but to pick through the rubbish to find scraps to eat.
I have no idea why, when my kids have to be bribed to finish a meal, millions of others go to bed hungry each night. Why 16,000 die in the first few years of their life for want of basic healthcare. Why, for 58 million, school is a distant dream. I could go on with the stats, but I think you get my point.
I’ve been a Christian for longer than I can remember and for most of that time I’ve battled with this question. Why does a God of love allow such pain? Over the years I’ve felt guilt, frustration and blatant anger - none of which has been very successful in resolving my battle or, indeed, answering that question.
The fact is; poverty is complex. There is no quick fix. Sometimes the urge to explain everything prevents us from actually doing something about it. The issues overshadow the people and we become paralysed by disillusionment.
This is where we need a child’s perspective.
When my children see images on the TV and in papers they don’t see poverty; they see people. They see a little girl, just like them, with fear in her eyes, pain on her face and a life of struggle written into her fragile body. They don’t see a global problem too big to fix, they see one child who needs help.
None of us can change the world. Not Bono, not Bill Gates, not even the Pope. But each of us can change the world for one child. As a family, child sponsorship with Compassion has provided us with a means to do just that. A way we can actually respond positively to the confusion of poverty that rages around us.
I still have big questions – and that’s OK. When my children ask me about the little girl on the TV, I might not be able to tell them everything they want to know, but I can tell them what we can do about it. I can get out our photo of Louis, the little boy we’ve been sponsoring for the past five years in Uganda. I can share his story, show them his photos and read the letters that explain how we’re making a difference in his life.
Louis' life is being transformed thanks to Kate's family. He's going to school, receiving medical check-ups and being given support from a church-based Compassion project.
Kate's daughters love drawing pictures to send to Louis.
For a four and a six year old, who love nothing more than a happy ending, Louis’ story is one that really sinks in. It’s not a fairytale, it’s not a fantasy, it’s not make-believe. It’s real life. It’s a story of transformation that we as a family are proud to be part of.
Change the world one child at a time
By Compassion sponsor, Kate.