Highly Vulnerable Children

A Call to Action

World Poverty Day, formally known as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, is held annually on October 17. It is an international day to raise awareness about the need to end global poverty in all its forms everywhere.

World Poverty Day aims to promote dialogue and understanding among people below the poverty line, the communities they live in and world community at large.

World Poverty Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge the struggles of poor people and gives them a platform and audience to have their issues, needs and concerns heard.

People living in poverty want to be treated as equals and be listened to with respect.

The World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty

World Poverty Day was first observed on October 17, 1987. It was organized as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty. More than 100,000 people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.

Five years later the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared October 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed at the Trocadéro in 1948, the UN declared that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to deliberately work toward respecting the rights of the poor.

two boys in front of a blue wall

Ending Poverty in All Its Forms Everywhere

The most widely held and understood definition of extreme poverty, established by the World Bank, defines poverty in strictly economic terms — earning less than $1.90 a day. But poverty is more than the lack of money.

Poverty is hunger and malnutrition, lack of shelter, illiteracy, lack of access to medical care, social discrimination and an inability to provide for oneself and one’s family. Poverty is infant mortality and losing a child to disease brought about by dirty drinking water. Poverty is powerlessness and lack of representation and freedom.

Poverty is also at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal NUMBER ONE is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN in 2015, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), represents the global community’s efforts to transform the world. The goals represent the most comprehensive and ambitious poverty reduction plan the world has embarked upon.

The Sustainable Development Goals expand the scope of the world community’s previous efforts to eradicate poverty. The SDG are about ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

In 2000, when the UN adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) it identified eight contributors to human suffering:

The Sustainable Development Goals replace and build upon the MDG, seeking to transform a world that has changed since 2000. The interconnectivity and interdependence in today’s world requires a broader, more integrated and more comprehensive agenda.

All countries and all people must come together for the Agenda to be successful. Building a sustainable future means finding ways to meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

A boy squats down next to a tree
"Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty." — Father Joseph Wresinski

The Poverty Wheel and Highly Vulnerable Children

Wheels serve as a good visualization device for the problem of poverty around the world. A wheel’s hub represents absolute poverty, and the spokes represent the different needs of the extremely poor – social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, physical, and economic. The rim of the wheel represents a life fulfilled.

Our mission, to release children from poverty in Jesus' name, brings children in poverty from the hub to the rim.

An orange bicycle

We work with thousands of local church partners in some of the world's poorest countries to identify children in vulnerable circumstances. Our approach to helping the poor starts when they are children, with early childhood development. Our emphasis is on meeting the needs of the poorest of the poor when they’re most vulnerable.

How Do the Poor Experience Poverty?

Being poor means always being dependent on others, having rights and freedoms restricted and living without support. It means economic growth and prosperity pass you by. A life in poverty is abundant in scarcity and marginalization. It lacks food and clothing, medical care and education and work opportunities.

The poor commonly suffer from an inability to provide for oneself, make sound decisions and act on one’s own initiative. A person who is poor is alone, has no support, doesn’t feel involved in anything and is never consulted.

The experience of poverty is characterized by rejection, suffering relationships, worthlessness and feelings of guilt for being poor.

Donations to our Highly Vulnerable Children initiative complement our Child Sponsorship Program and help provide a variety of interventions depending on individual and family circumstances. Interventions include:

  • Nutritional assistance
  • Shelter renovations for damaged homed or unsafe living conditions
  • Clothing and shoes for children in immediate need
  • Trauma counseling
  • Foster care for children living in violent circumstances
  • Medical care and ongoing support for victims of abuse
  • Intervention for adolescents struggling with alcohol, sexual activity or truancy
  • Job training and income opportunities for parents so children can stay in school

Nearly 10%
live in extreme poverty

live in Africa

live in rural areas

Source:World Bank and The Brookings Institution

How We Get Involved

Compassion depends on a network of local church partners to identify, intervene, protect and support children living in highly vulnerable circumstances. Please donate today to help children in poverty who need our protection most.

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Pray for God’s hand of protection over children who are in vulnerable situations. Pray that trusted adults in their lives would advocate for them, intervene where necessary and bring them to a place of safety. We want each child to experience the hope and healing of Jesus.

Blue line icon of heartEmotional Intervention

Prayer, counseling, rehabilitation and foster care for children who are hurting.

Blue line icon of hand holding childParental Support

Support can include legal resources to find missing children, trafficking prevention awareness, and income generating opportunities so that their children aren't exploited for income.

Blue line icon of fork and plateBasic Human Needs

Medical care, nutritious food, shelter, clothing and shoes for children in immediate need.

Give with Confidence

With Compassion, your donation is used wisely to help children around the world.

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Trusted Charity Since 1952

Have Questions About Compassion and How We Work?

Donating to a charity is an important decision. So when you’re passionate about a cause and want to make a difference, we encourage you to do your research. Compassion is 100 percent committed to financial integrity, stewardship, and using each dollar wisely. If you have any questions about Compassion or exactly how your donation will be used, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Please call us at 800-336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT to speak with a Compassion Representative.