Today we hear from the country director of the projects in the Philippines. I currently have three kids in the Philippines: Nikko, Jhonrex, and Rebecca.
I am Noel Pabiona and I have been the country director of Compassion in the Philippines for 12 years now. I am a proud father of two boys. My boys constantly remind me to be a patient and responsible father, which in turn reminds of my Heavenly Father's love and amazing patience for me.
Compassion has worked in the Philippines for more than 44 years. Today, we have about 345 child development centers, reaching out to around 81,000 children across the islands. This seems to be a large number, but it is small compared to our country's total population of 102 million, with 12 million people still living in extreme poverty. My vision is to reach out to even more children.
An Urban Slum in the Philippines
Thanks to sponsors like you, thousands of Filipino children now know God, live responsible lives, and have hope for the future. Your faithful support and care for Jhonrex, Rebecca, and Nikko has eternal impact. Thank you.
Our country is made up of 7,100 islands and this is a challenge for traveling. Yet, whenever I can, I visit our centers to meet as many children as possible. I have personally talked with many of the sponsored children and their families and have seen how sponsorship truly works. Several teens have told me that, if not for their sponsorship, they would most probably be like many of the unsponsored teenagers in their community - unschooled, drug dependent, or pregnant, and without hope. Our teens have hope, study hard, contribute to society, and respect their parents. They are on their way to escaping poverty and becoming responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.
Teens Playing Basketball at Their Project
Although public education is free, not all Filipino families send their children to school. A handful of impoverished families would rather have their children work so they can earn even a little for their families, even if it means working in harmful conditions such as scavenging, quarrying, and fishing. Other parents simply do not care to encourage their children to study or do well in life.
In 2017, my focus is on giving child the chance to be a disciple in the way of our Savior. This, I believe, is what makes Compassion stand out. Not only do we give children hope, but we also give them eternal hope in Jesus. Not only do we equip them for life, but we also challenge them to give back and touch the lives of others.
Children Praying at Their Project
Our church partners are doing a remarkable job in ministering to the children. Most of our staff and volunteers serve the children beyond what is required in Compassion's program. The need and vulnerability of the children compel them to do so. They reach out to the families and communities, and often initiate community development centers to support the local government. In most cases, our churches are more equipped, reliable, and successful in their initiatives than the local government is.
A Girl Outside Her Rural Home
Finally, I would like to let you know that each letter a sponsor sends to a child is not just a piece of paper. It is a reminder that the children are important, that they matter because they are loved. I have not met a child who didn't value letters from the sponsor. They keep the letters in special boxes and most read them over and over. Children who don't receive letters wonder why not. I encourage you to write to your children as much as you can.
Boy Writing a Letter to His Sponsor
With God's grace, let us continue to work, pray, and hope together. Thank you again for your love and the hope you give to Jhonrex, Rebecca, and Nikko.