COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 15, 2003 -- Despite nationwide economic troubles, Compassion International has continued to grow and has reached a major milestone, now providing life-changing assistance to a half-million children around the world.
The 500,000th child to join Compassion's program is a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl named Irma Lopez Chox.
"Irma is just one of the children to whom Compassion provides hope," said Dr. Wesley K. Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International. "But there are so many more Irmas out there -- children who need a way out of poverty."
Stafford said one out of every three children born in a developing country is mired in abject poverty without adequate health services, shelter and education. "There is much work for the rest of us to do," he said.
The number of children now served by Compassion has doubled in just six years, jumping from 250,000 to 500,000, and its leaders anticipate reaching the one million mark before the end of the decade. The ministry has been providing for the needs of children in poverty-stricken countries for more than 50 years. During this time, the program has grown from one country served to over 20, and from 35 children receiving services to a half-million.
As one of these registered children, Irma is now receiving educational opportunities, health services, supplemental nutrition and Christian teaching.
Married at the age of 16, Irma's parents, Diego Ló°¥º Ixmatá ¡nd Manuela Chox Tzaj, are extremely pleased that Irma was selected for the Compassion program. While they both work hard trying to make ends meet, Diego and Manuela earn only a meager living. And they recognize the limitations that poverty places upon young children. They're also hopeful that Irma's experience will have a positive impact on her five siblings who range in age from two to 16.
Irma is raised in a Christian household and she and her family attend Sunday services. Her parents said "they pray all the time for all the Compassion sponsors that help kids in need like their daughter."
Having recently entered Compassion's program, Irma is one of about 40,000 children who is not yet linked to a sponsor. Compassion sponsors are those individuals who have made a decision to personally invest in the life of a child in poverty. That investment comes in the form of financial support as well as personal outreach. Sponsors and children often build strong relationships in which they write to each other and become bonded through their ongoing relationship.
Compassion International is one of the nation's largest and fastest growing child development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and many indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than a million children. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion via its Web site (compassion.com) or by calling (800) 336-7676.