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Erin Hessler

Erin Hessler

Erin Hessler is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Global Impact. She is responsible for developing, managing and implementing key marketing and communications materials. She was born in Maryland, raised in Virginia and lives in D.C. – she is a DMV local. When she’s not working, you can find Erin out for a jog, watching baseball, reading a good book or visiting new places. No matter what she does, she does it with a cup of coffee.

By
Erin Hessler
Photo Credit
Compassion Media / Compassion International / Rwanda

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about the coronavirus pandemic is that there doesn’t seem to be an area that it hasn’t touched. Regardless of location or industry, there is a new normal everywhere you look – and more vulnerable people than ever before. With such an overwhelming need for support, where do you even begin helping? 

Compassion International was faced with that same challenge. The charity works through partnerships with thousands of churches around the world to release children from poverty. Their work is widespread and addresses a variety of needs, including supporting mothers and infants, providing clean water and education, and increasing income generation. 

The charity’s wide range of work is all important. However, Compassion International knows that when the needs are extraordinary and never-ending, sometimes chasing too many goals results in meeting none of them. So when the virus took over the world, it moved quickly to identify the areas where its work could make the greatest long-term impact, placing highest priority on the areas that would continue to help uplift children from poverty and suffering.

Laser focus: Identifying three priorities
While the needs in our COVID-19 world are far-reaching and extraordinary, Compassion International narrowed in on the levers that would deliver the greatest stability for its beneficiaries: child safety, medical care and food security. The charity was able to swiftly use their disaster relief fund to target these three areas and adapt to meet them, even as COVID-19 continues to provide obstacles.  

  1. Child safety. With more people staying at home, facing unemployment and missing out on school, children have become even more vulnerable to abuses that prevent them from living safe lives and becoming happy and capable adults.
  2. Medical care. When health care systems get overwhelmed, it can cause a rise in other life-threatening illnesses – and the potential for worsening health crises.
  3. Food security. Arguably the most urgent need, childhood malnutrition has spike as many families face lowered incomes and a lack of school-provided meals.

Child safety: Giving refuge to vulnerable children
The impacts of the coronavirus on the economy, access to education, food security and more all add up to an increased risk for child abuse. This comes in many forms: child marriage, labor, trafficking, or domestic violence. And many of the institutions that people once turned to for help, like schools and shelters, are harder to access. 

Before the pandemic: 

  • More than 152 million children were victims of child labor, often working in hazardous conditions with heavy machinery or toxic materials,
  • 12 million girls under the age of 18 were forced into child marriage each year, and
  • A third of women and girls around the world experienced violence at some point in their lives.

There is mounting evidence that these numbers are on the rise as families lose income and stay home from work and school.

Without protection, children are missing school, risking their lives and are unable to reach their potential. To combat this, Compassion International works with their network of local churches to protect these children through emotional intervention, parental support and providing basic needs, such as health care, rent assistance, meal packs and hygiene kits.

Church leaders and members in the charity’s partner network intervene with visits. Often, the recent “visits” have been by phone or text message when possible to avoid spreading coronavirus. By providing for both emotional and physical needs, Compassion International is providing stability that is crucial to a balanced and supportive family life, giving children the opportunity to have a safe childhood and grow up confident and successful.

Medical care: Saving lives with health care
COVID-19 has proven to be especially deadly, and its weight on global health systems is making us vulnerable to an additional threat. Compassion is helping symptomatic individuals access medical services and paying for emergency medical care for those sick with COVID-19. 

At the same time, as hospitals continue to be strained by the pandemic, many vaccination campaigns have halted. People everywhere are at increased risk of contracting preventable diseases. In other words, there’s great potential for a dramatic rise in other health concerns that will put even more pressure on overburdened systems, as they did in 2014 and 2015 during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

Compassion International’s strategy has always been to intervene on health issues through education, prevention and treatment – to great effect. The charity connects to communities through over 8,000 local church partners in 25 countries to share up-to-date information, emotional counselling, and distribute standard immunizations and supplies like mosquito nets to help prevent unnecessary deaths. As a vital tool to stop the spread of COVID-19 and promote overall health, the charity has distributed almost 4 million hygiene kits to households. 

Feeding hungry children
Prior to the pandemic, 11% of the global population suffered from hunger, and 45% of child deaths under the age of five were caused by undernutrition. Chronic or recurring undernutrition leads to stunted growth, resulting in long-term health effects for children. These staggering facts is why food security has historically taken such a high priority – and that’s even truer now. 

Experts estimate that the pandemic puts 300,000 more children that are in Compassion International’s programs at risk of malnutrition – in addition to the original 160,000 at-risk before the pandemic.

To prevent these numbers from rising even further, Compassion International has been working on the front lines with thousands of local church partners to distribute both food and hygiene kits around world.

Between April and June 2020, 3,720,347 food packs were distributed to children and families living in poverty by Compassion International’s local church partners. Since June, that number has now totaled over 6 million. Without this network of community churches, many more families in their communities would be missing meals or unsure of where their next one is coming from. 

How your generosity can help now more than ever
You can help Compassion continue to provide relief and save lives. Team up with your coworkers and give at your workplace to amplify your generosity. Giving at work is a convenient way to boost your impact through payroll pledges, matching gifts and volunteerism. 

Here are some ways you can support Compassion International’s work: 

Donate the amount of a COVID recovery gift through your employee giving campaign.

  • $25 supplies a family of five with a hygiene kit filled with 6 months-worth of hand sanitizer, soap, vitamins, masks and household cleaning supplies.
  • $40 provides a household with a two-week food kit filled with foods like rice, eggs, meat, and milk. A small amount makes a big difference.
  • $90 covers one month of rent for families that have lost their source of income because of coronavirus.

Compassion International is calling this movement against COVID-19 a fight – and that’s exactly what it is. 

Even when the world begins to recover from the effects of the pandemic, many of these challenges will linger. That’s why Compassion International is fighting on the front lines and stepping in now to curb the potential long-term damage that could be caused, whether it’s from stunted development, lives lost or economic downturn. The work it does now can help thousands overcome this challenge and reach their potential in the future.  

Join the fight – reach out to us for more information on how to make Compassion International part of your workplace giving campaign!


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