Compassion International, a leading authority on child sponsorship which releases children from poverty globally, will be bringing its tour, “The Compassion Experience,” to the Columbia area March 16-19. The event will educate visitors about the realities of life in poverty as well as provide an international experience to visitors who may not ever have the opportunity to travel abroad to a developing country.
The four-day event will be hosted by Shandon Baptist Church at 5250 Forest Drive in Columbia from March 16-19. There, visitors will be invited on a self-guided journey where they will be immersed in the lives and stories of three children living in the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Uganda. Each child’s story starts in hardship but ends in hope.
The experience includes 1,700 square feet of exhibit space, featuring replicas of the homes and environments of these two Compassion beneficiaries. The event is free and family-friendly.
“We built ‘The Compassion Experience’ in order to really bring the developing world to America,” said Mark Hanlon, Compassion International’s senior vice president of global marketing and engagement. “When people think of poverty, they often think of the lack of things, the lack of stuff, the lack of money. Those are all symptoms of poverty. The real issue of poverty is the lack of hope. Through our holistic child development program, Compassion stirs hope in children. And you’ll see that hope come to life at this event.”
The tour is highly interactive, using individual iPods and headsets to offer visitors a sense of what life is like in extremely poverty-stricken areas around the world where the World Bank estimates that 700 million (9.6 percent of the global population) live on less than $1.90 a day (USD). In the areas Compassion serves, nearly one in five children die before the age of five, mostly from preventable causes, and 124 million children worldwide do not attend school, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). Tour-goers will have the opportunity to “change the story” of children living in poverty by learning more about the issue, as well as Compassion’s child sponsorship program, which tackles global poverty one child at a time. Compassion currently serves more than 1.8 million children in 25 of the world’s most impoverished countries.