On this muggy July day, I look out the office window and see a group of over-excited school children chatting away on the street corner. Their school bags and jumpers abandoned on the floor, they're clearly overjoyed: finally, school's out for summer.
4,110 miles away in Uyoma, Kenya, 17-year-old Margaret stands under the shade of a tree in the school yard. As a cool breeze wafts across St Matthew's Secondary School compound, the girls laugh. Their giggles can be heard from afar. For these girls, it’s also the last day of the school term. They're ecstatic after finishing writing their final exam.
Yet for girls like Margaret, the school holidays don’t always mean good news. Outside of the school gates, children and young people can be more vulnerable to trafficking or abuse.
Many live in places where simply going out to play is dangerous.
That’s why, even during the holidays, Compassion projects go above and beyond in reaching out to the most vulnerable children. It’s the beauty of partnering with the local church: the Church never closes. It’s a constant presence ensuring children are known, loved and protected.
Here’s three examples of our incredible projects going the extra mile in caring for kids during the holidays.
1. Project choirs in Kenya
For Margaret, she'll spend much of her holidays at the church pursuing her two favourite hobbies: playing for the project football team and singing in the choir. Singing with the other young people at St Paul's Ranalo has become a lifeline for this once timid girl. The choir gives Margaret self-confidence and now she's passionate about becoming a gospel musician.
“Since Margaret was enrolled into the Compassion project, she has blossomed into a responsible young woman with a real future,” says her mother Diana with a smile. “She has the opportunity to thrive, which we would never have been able to provide. She is a light to the rest of her siblings and to us.”
But the consistent quality care being offered to Margaret isn't a one-off.
2. Football tournaments in Burkina Faso.
"The school breaks are times when families lose their children due to drownings in ponds or dams or accidents," explains project worker Francis Soulama. "This happens because they do not play in safe spaces."
For the last three years, Francis has organised a sports tournament called Talents Revelation during each school holiday. She's passionate about offering sponsored children and young people the opportunity to develop skills and compete in a healthy environment.
“We do not just provide this sporting opportunity for physical development; it is also a chance for civic education. This is where we teach children fair play, we teach them to respect their opponent, maintain a positive attitude, and behave in a worthy and honest manner,” she explains.
The tournament has been a huge success, even being recognised by the local government in Ouagadougou.
3. Youth camps in the Philippines.
“The problem of drugs and gangs in our community is real,” says 20-year-old Fretchel Sausa. “I know young people who do such things in our community."
For young people like Fretchel, the youth camp run by the Compassion project and local church is vital. It provides them with positive influence and role models during the holidays.
What's more they get opportunities to travel to a rural area of the Philippines. Each year the campers spend time on the mountaintop campsite in the province of Negros Occidental.
“If not for the help of Compassion,” Fretchel explains, “I would probably now be working in the farm.”
The campers take part in workshops about decision-making, time management and conflict management. Leaders from our partner churches provide discipleship and encouragement. Young people are given the opportunity to go hiking and take part in exciting outdoor adventures!
Take a moment to pray for vulnerable children and young people who are on a break from school. Ask God to protect them. Give thanks for the servant-hearted staff and volunteers from our partner churches who provide exceptional care to the poorest children in their communities.