From 2020 through 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic drove millions of children and their families deeper into poverty, destroying years of hard work and shattering hope for the future.

Caregivers fell sick and died from the virus. Measures to slow its spread crippled economies. Around the world, at every level of society — locally, regionally and nationally — lockdowns cut down the businesses and institutions that formed the backbone of communities. Parents lost jobs and sources of income. With schools closed, children lost months or years of critical social and intellectual development. Interrupted supply chains meant empty shelves at grocery stores and markets.

And these were just the physical effects. Many organizations have documented the emotional and spiritual impacts. The World Health Organization reported a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide in the first year of the pandemic alone. Other organizations warned about elevated levels of domestic violence and substance abuse.

How Did Compassion Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

From the very start of the pandemic, we began working alongside our Frontline Church Partners to adapt how we minister to children in poverty. Compassion staff, volunteers and Frontline Church Partners around the world determined that nothing would stand in the way of serving the children in our program, along with their families and communities. And while our staff members themselves were just as affected by the pandemic, they viewed it as an opportunity to grow in creatively and flexibly serving others.

The mission never changed, but for a time, many of the methods did.

As lockdowns began, staff changed their approach by revising and delivering online versions of their programs. Many called children on the phone to offer emotional, psychological and spiritual support. Whenever possible, local staff visited children at home to check on their welfare and deliver lessons.

Some Compassion centers became the missing link between local schools that shifted to online classes and students who didn’t have devices to attend classes virtually.

Our staff and volunteers sacrificed time and resources to keep children in contact with their sponsors. Some staff members called children while others visited them at home to help them write letters. Staff members understood that the children needed words of love and encouragement from their sponsors while they felt uncertain and alone during the lockdowns. They needed to know they were not forgotten, that someone was praying for them and loved them.

How Did Compassion Care for Children and Families During the Pandemic?

Centers closely followed their governments’ guidance during the pandemic, especially by teaching children and staff sanitation and hygiene practices to prevent spreading or contracting the virus. Many of the participants, in turn, shared this knowledge with their caregivers and families.

Compassion staff around the world responded quickly and efficiently to the crisis. From April 2020 through October 2022, our staff delivered more than 23 million food packs, more than 15 million hygiene packs and more than 500,000 cash gifts for families who urgently needed to buy food, clean water, or hygiene and medical supplies.

When local partners delivered items to families in desperate need, the entire community witnessed the church’s dedication, love and sacrifice, and the communities’ trust in our church partners grew.

Below, you can find reports on how COVID-19 impacted each region where we work and what Compassion did in response.

What Are the Long-Term Ramifications for Compassion Programs?

As nations have declared COVID-19 endemic (meaning it will likely be a regularly occurring illness in the area), the ongoing training our staff members provide on hygiene and sanitation will continue to protect these communities from this and many other preventable diseases, now and in the future.

While many Compassion centers returned to in-person gatherings when local restrictions lifted, some have found that keeping a hybrid in-person and online approach makes their program more effective.

The long-term effects of the pandemic — combined with the regional wars and droughts that have followed — are causing rapid inflation and soaring food prices. This is estimated to cause 27 million more people to fall into poverty — the first increase in the global poverty rate in more than 20 years.

With this and each new crisis that we face, our local staff find strength in Jesus and in your support to tirelessly and creatively meet the needs of vulnerable children and families around them.

Please pray for families, staff members and volunteers as they navigate new or ongoing crises in their communities. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

How Can You Help?

While the COVID-19 pandemic itself is mainly in the past, children and their families continue to suffer its long-term effects. Just like in other disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, everything can be lost in a moment, but rebuilding what’s been lost can take years.

Our partner churches around the world are equipped and experienced in helping children and families who suffer a variety of short-term and long-term crises. You can help them by providing food essentials, medical care, educational support and more through Compassion’s Critical Program Needs Fund.

Another need is that many children urgently need sponsors. Because of the pandemic, they have been waiting months, and even more than a year, for a sponsor. If you feel called, sponsor one of these children today.

Together we can help families begin rebuilding their lives today and their hopes for tomorrow.