By: Willow Welter   |   Posted: May 18, 2023

Join us in praising God for reducing poverty in many areas where Compassion works, and learn how we continually move toward areas with the greatest need.

4 Regions Where Poverty is Falling

Join us in praising God for reducing poverty in many areas where Compassion works, and learn how we continually move toward areas with the greatest need.

Written by Willow Welter
Photography by Ben Adams, Andrew Huth, Sara Navarro, Piyamary Shinoda and Fernando Sinacay
3 children jump and laugh

You’re probably used to hearing how poverty is increasing globally (which is true) and how big the problem is (also true). But poverty has actually declined in certain regions, and we want to pause and celebrate those victories!

It’s also important for Compassion, as a child development organization releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, to pay close attention to poverty shifts. That’s how we know where to send resources to make the biggest impact and steward our supporters’ generosity well.

For 70 years, and with your partnership, Compassion has been working to reach children in need. And we’ve seen some amazing progress in communities where we work. Poverty is receding in certain regions thanks to God and his global Church (that includes our generous supporters)!

As local churches in these areas become self-sufficient, we’ve continually adapted our ministry to focus on areas where poverty is more severe. Below are examples of how we listen, learn and evolve when poverty is reducing in certain regions. That way we can redirect efforts to where the need is greatest.

South Korea

3 girls in a orphanage

The history of Compassion began in South Korea. In the early 1950s, the Rev. Everett Swanson flew from his home in Chicago to South Korea to minister to U.S. troops fighting in the Korean War. He was appalled by the number of war orphans he saw suffering or dying on the streets there. He returned home and got to work on his vision for helping the children he saw. He started a child sponsorship program to connect caring Christians with Korean children in need of financial support and encouragement.

Swanson’s vision made a huge impact in South Korea. By the early 1990s, local churches had the ability and resources to sustain themselves, so we phased out our program in the country. It was amazing to see the Korean Church become self-sustaining.

Pastor Baik Ei Sun and his wife are standing outside the retirement center that he directs

But you know what's even more incredible? We’ve come full circle, and now South Korea is a partner country! That means South Koreans are now sponsoring children through Compassion. It’s a testament to the power of sustainable development and how communities can thrive when support is directed in the wisest ways.


Brazil is another incredible success story. As poverty fell in Southern Brazil’s large metro areas and states like Sao Paulo and Rio, we carefully phased out our work in those regions. Instead, we shifted to focus on the north and other regions with the greatest levels of poverty.

a mother and her children

In fact, we even moved our national office from Campinas (in the south) to Fortaleza (on the northern coast) to better serve the communities in need. It's been a significant shift in our ministry strategy so we can focus our efforts in areas that were previously overlooked.


a mother and her daughter

Thailand is another region where we’ve adapted our ministry to go where the need is greatest. National measures of poverty in Thailand have been significantly reducing over time. So, as many churches we work with are now equipped to independently serve children in their care, Compassion is beginning a multi-year process to phase out of work in those communities.

Instead, we’re shifting to work with churches on the Myanmar-Thailand border. These churches focus on marginalized ethnic groups on the Myanmar side of the border. That’s where poverty is most extreme and where children have fewer opportunities. This change is part of how we constantly evaluate and adjust our approach to make the greatest impact with supporters’ generosity.

Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

In these three countries, we’ve seen poverty fall considerably in the major metro areas Compassion has worked in. But instead of getting complacent, we’re continuing to adapt and focus on communities of greater poverty.

We’re now partnering with sponsors and churches to work in the impoverished northern coastal areas of Colombia and Ecuador, as well as the northern jungle and Amazon tributaries of Peru. Successfully ministering to children requires being flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the communities we serve.

a family prays together

Adaptability and Sustainability

It can be bittersweet working toward a goal of phasing yourself out. But that’s exactly what we want to do: end poverty in our lifetime by equipping churches to serve those in need in their communities.

We know that sustainability is key to long-term transformation for the children and communities we serve. Graduating a Compassion center from our sponsorship program is a complex process. But our goal is to help each church become self-sustaining, developing a plan that allows them to continue ministering to children in their communities without Compassion funding. It’s about empowering local leaders and communities to thrive on their own, and we’re committed to walking alongside them on this journey.

So let’s celebrate the progress we, the global Church, are making together in the fight against poverty. Your support is helping us adapt and evolve our ministry to reach areas of greater need and empower local churches and communities to create lasting change. It's an incredible journey, and we’re grateful you’re part of our team.

Together, we’re making a powerful difference in the lives of children and families around the world. These success stories are just a taste of the transformation possible, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.

Change a Life, Change the World

a girl smiles at the camera

Support and encourage a child who lives in poverty.

a girl smiles at the camera