A Day in the Life of Compassion

16 07 2010
Liset, sponsored child through Compassion Internation

Liset, one of the children we sponsor through Compassion International

Liset was born 17 years ago in a slum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  At the age of three, her parents enrolled her in the Compassion International project, and my husband (whom I hadn’t even met yet) began sponsoring her.  (Matthew was a grad student at Rice University in Houston making about $1,000 per month and was sponsoring five children through Compassion, costing him over $100 each month.)

Forward fourteen years to July 13, 2010, and we were sitting in her family’s living room.  (After visiting Santiago last year in Lima, Peru, another of the six children we currently sponsor through Compassion, Matthew and I are on a mission to meet all of our sponsored children before they graduate from the program.)  With Liset being the closest and easiest to get to of our remaining kids, our choice for our 2010 vacation destination was pretty easy.

Our guide and translator met us at our hotel in Santo Domingo that morning and took us by bus—they had rented an entire bus for the three of us—to the project where Liset attends classes.  The program director met us and gave us a complete tour. 

Matthew 19:14 Student Center

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." -Matthew 19:14

Child Survival Program office

Upon entering the project, the first office is that of the Child Survival Program. Pre-natal care is non-existent in the slums, but Compassion works mightily with the local community to provide basic care and education for pregnant women.

Child Survival Program office

Educating pregnant women in the community throughout pregnancy is a major focus of the CSP. After birth, mothers are encouraged to bring their babies in monthly for basic exams and to be weighed.

Child Survival Program office

Mothers are encouraged to attend monthly classes to help train them to be better mothers. Children are cared for in this fun room with lots of toys while mothers attend their classes.

sewing machine for vocational training

Older students at the project are taught some type of vocational trade. For the young women, one option is sewing.


We were next shown a room full of new mattresses that someone had donated. The staff at the project tries to ensure that male and female children in their families do not share mattresses.


This was the project's library which had also become a storage room for their computers. The older students in the project are also given the opportunity to receive training on computers once a week. However, these machines obviously weren't working as there is no room for a separate computer lab, and energy costs in the Dominican Republic are the highest among all Caribbean islands. The project is currently looking for a bigger building.


The most delicious smelling meal we encountered all week was being cooked in this kitchen at the project. All students receive one meal each day they attend classes at the project. Often times, this is the only meal these kids will receive that day.


We were then taken to a classroom full of 30 eager young children. They normally separate kids into classes of 10, but they combined them this day. We got to speak with them briefly which was a real treat for us. Students at the project only attend classes 2-3 days per week, and then attend a regular public school the other days.


Outside the back of the project was a fun, well-shaded playground area for the kids.

cutting grass

Lawn mowers cost a lot of money here, and gas to get one running costs almost $6 per gallon. So then, one of the staff members cuts the grass with a machete.

One of the things we love most about Compassion is their commitment to the local community.  They only go into countries which will accept their work as Christians; they do not disguise the fact that they will be teaching children a Bible-based education.  Of course, they also provide meals, clothing, shoes, school uniforms, tuition, health and hygiene products, vaccinations, medication, and many other services.  Compassion also makes sure that each family will commit to letting their child attend classes, making sure they can travel to school safely and regularly.  Compassion has very high standards for the children they accept, and thus they have a very high success rate of children graduating from the program and more importantly, becoming followers of Christ.

After our tour of the Compassion project center, we walked a few blocks to Liset’s home.  They had only told her of our visit the day before, even though we arranged it with Compassion three months before.  I understand why they wait.  They want to make sure they have contact with the sponsors in the country before they tell their child.  This really is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for both the sponsor and their child.

family on a motorcycle

This is perhaps one of my favorite pictures of our entire trip. Car seats pretty much don't exist in this country. The fact that this family even owned a motorcycle makes them among the wealthy of this community.

street outside the Compassion project center

This is the street that the Compassion project center is on. In fact, our ridiculous bus is parked on the left in front of the project.


This is a typical house in this neighborhood, on the way to Liset's home.


This is another example of a typical home for this neighborhood. In fact, this is right across the alley from Liset's home.


This is the alley that Liset's home is on. It becomes a maze of very narrow alleys the further back from the main street you get.

Liset's house

This is the front of Liset's home. This is definitely one of the nicer homes in the area. We were told that her parents had been doing well financially in the past few years so they were able to make some upgrades to the house.

Liset's home

Liset's house had a little patio area in the front, completely enclosed by metal gates. Burglary is a huge problem in the country.

living room

This is the living room, taken from near the front door. They had a couch and several big chairs.

living room

This is the other side of the living room. They did own a TV. They also had a fairly large dining table, and just behind it was the kitchen with a refrigerator, oven and sink. They had several bedrooms and an indoor bathroom with running water.

Liset's pet turtles

When we asked about pets, Liset's eyes lit up, and she brought us to the back of the house to show us her turtles and two dogs.

Liset's pet dogs

These are Liset's two pet dogs.

Matthew, Kelly, Liset and Raphael (Liset's younger brother)

Here we are with Liset and her younger brother (by one year) Raphael. Liset's parents were both working so we could not meet them, and their youngest brother was away visiting relatives. Liset's mother did call the house, and our translator carried out the conversation from her to us and us to her.

Things are always a little awkward during these meetings.  Here she was, and here we were meeting face-to-face for the first time after having corresponded through written letters for the past 14 years.  Honestly, our letters to one another during that time were pretty superficial so we really didn’t know as much about her as we would have liked going into this meeting.

Liset’s brother Raphael greeted us at the door as Liset was still showering and getting ready, wanting to “look perfect” as her brother said.  Raphael was a very engaging, bright young man.  He was hopping around one foot as he had severely burned his other foot/ankle/calf with scalding oil.  He was frying plantains and tripped while carrying the pot of hot oil.  He had no bandages or crutches, just some salve.  He will likely recover and be able to walk, but there will always be a pretty nasty scar.  He wants to be an architect when he graduates from school.  He and Liset are actually in the same grade, but they both assured us they do not cheat off of one another.  I wish he, too, could have been registered with Compassion, but Compassion only allows one child per family to register with the program so that they can serve more families in each community.  Only in special circumstances will Compassion register more than one child per family.  We invited Raphael to join us for lunch, but sadly he couldn’t.  Simply trying to get to the bus, hopping on only one good leg would be too difficult.

When Liset finally appeared, it was smiles, hugs, kisses, and tears all around, with a lot of awkwardness.  We talked about easy things at first–favorite sports, hobbies, etc.  Liset enjoys hanging out with her friends, watching TV, listening to music, and visiting relatives–much like the students I teach in Nashville who are on the extreme opposite end of the socio-economic scale.  (Most families in Liset’s community are lucky to earn $60/month.)

We asked her about what she enjoyed most from Compassion.  I was hoping for some deep spiritual insight, maybe something God had taught her, but she replied, “the field trips.” 

We brought her some simple gifts:  a few t-shirts, tooth brushes and toothpaste, pencils, and some maps.  She was very interested in locating where we lived in the US and how far away we were from her.  We got to talking about how far away things are in the US–how far we live from our parents (10-13 hours drive), how far the nearest beach was from our house (8 hours drive) and how far Matthew’s home was from the college he attended (14 hours drive.)  They were all quite amazed that anyone would travel that far to visit a beach or family or to go to college.  In Dominican Republic, you can travel from one side of the country to the other in 4-5 hours by bus.  Being so far away from the beach was particularly unnerving to everyone. 

Liset’s brother presented us with Coke, in wine glasses, and they prepared some mangos for us to take with us when we left (which we forgot.)  Then we treated Liset to lunch at a local “mall.”  It was a huge grocery store with a nearly deserted food court and two fast food places, Dominos Pizza and a chicken joint.  We sat for two hours in that food court eating our chicken strips and talking about all manner of things.  However, when our translator started asking Matthew about evolution vs. creation, Liset quietly faded into the background, bored out of her mind.  That conversation then moved onto a discussion about how corrupt the DR government is which then segued into a discussion about the general lack of integrity in politicians around the world.  I only jumped in when we started talking about the First Amendment and the Separation Clause.  Poor Liset.  Our translator, Edison, was a bright, engaging, smart, interested young man, but I think Liset would have rather talked about music or movies.

Our visit ended after lunch when we all returned to the project center.  I couldn’t help but cry, and I got very emotional as Matthew and I got back on the bus to head back into town.  I was reminded of how Paul must have felt after having visited the Ephesians.  He had visited with them for such a short time, yet the time was incredibly meaningful.  I cried because I was overcome with such a sense of blessing and gratitude that we had been able to even meet Liset during our time on earth.  I cried because I was sad I probably would never meet her again during our time on earth.  I cried because I knew that despite our time on earth, we would meet again someday.

For those of you who already sponsor a child, consider sponsoring another.  Nothing says you have to stop at one.  At the very least, write to your child if you haven’t done so in a while.  You have no idea how much your sponsored children value your letters and photos.

For those of you who don’t yet sponsor a child, please pray about beginning a sponsorship soon.  It’s $38/month, but you are literally changing the course of history!  Ending the cycle of poverty and providing an education to even one child will affect generations to come in a very positive way.  Visit http://www.compassion.com today to begin your sponsorship.  (Having seen our $38/month up close and in action, I can honestly say Compassion is the best child advocacy organization in existence.)

I’m already dreaming and scheming of our 2011 trip.  Right now, India and Bolivia are on the short list as we have Compassion kids in both those countries.   We have been blessed beyond words having been able to visit two of our sponsored kids, and we pray God will continue to bless our efforts and allow us to visit more in the years to come.




73 responses

16 07 2010

Compassion International. I had never heard of it until reading this post. Thank you for sharing this with the whole world! 🙂

With Love and Gratitude,

The Intentional Sage

16 07 2010

You are very welcome! Pass it on. Compassion does amazing work. You will be very blessed by sponsoring a child.

16 07 2010

I really enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading of your visit. We sponsor 2 compassion kids, 1 in Dominican Republic and 1 in Thailand. Then another through Mission of Mercy in Dom. Rep. We have been sponsoring kids since 1989. One really wanted to come visit, but we haven’t. Thanks for sharing!

16 07 2010

Cool blog, but why is it called “To kick a pigeon” ??

16 07 2010

Thanks for reading! I explain the title in my first post: https://tokickapigeon.wordpress.com/2010/06/. Enjoy.

16 07 2010
My Italian Letters

Thank you for sharing this … and for the pictures. I’ll certainly pass on information about Compassion …

16 07 2010

above comment is from me (Jill) I changed my name from admin. to Jill:)

16 07 2010

nice post…
thanks for share

16 07 2010

She has a really nice home!
She is lucky to have you!

16 07 2010
Foot Problems 101

A Day in the Life of Compassion…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

16 07 2010

Good family.Everybody lucky.

16 07 2010
Adam Day

Thanks for sharing

Check Us Out! A Little Place For Some Internet Traffic Road Rage!
Road Rage with A & A

17 07 2010

Thanks for sharing this info. I’m looking up Compassion right now!

17 07 2010

You will not be disappointed with Compassion International! I wish you luck in finding a child to sponsor.

17 07 2010
A Day in the Life of Compassion (via To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings) « Gisdude’s Weblog

[…] A Day in the Life of Compassion (via To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings) By gisdude Liset was born 17 years ago in a slum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  At the age of three, her parents enrolled her in the Compassion International project, and my husband (whom I hadn’t even met yet) began sponsoring her.  (Matthew was a grad student at Rice University in Houston making about … Read More […]

17 07 2010

She has a really nice home!
She is lucky to have you!

17 07 2010

Both you and your husband are amazing for sponsoring so many children and taking the initiative to travel the world to meet them. Thank you for sharing. Each year for Christmas my mother and I select a global program to contribute to. This year Christmas can come early, I’ll be sharing this organization with my mother. Thank you so very much for your post. The pictures were a great aid!!!

17 07 2010

Thank you for passing on the word about Compassion! They do such amazing work–from helping women with pre-natal care, to the child sponorship program, and then even college aid for those students who exhibit leadership abilities.

17 07 2010

Nice post.She have good family.

17 07 2010

When Biplab starts his work in the morning, he prioritizes his day’s tasks. It helps him to work in a rhythm and organize his work better. Biplab gets encouragement for what he does from his colleagues and the children here. There has never been a moment when he was left to handle pending work alone.

Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/biplab/#ixzz0tvRZs5Yp

17 07 2010

Good home.Lucky.

17 07 2010
orgasm ralph

God bless… I wish this Good Cause be further blessed…

17 07 2010

This has brought inspiration in me to sponsor a child… thankyou for sharing your story!

17 07 2010

That is so awesome! You will blessed as much as the child you sponsor. Let me know what you think once you get your child information.

17 07 2010

We sponsor a child in our family but unfortunately we’re terrible about remembering to write 😦

17 07 2010

It’s never too late to write. You can even email your child through Compassion’s website. Your letters really are cherished possessions for these kids.

17 07 2010

Awesome! I love that you actually got to meet someone you had sponsored for so long!

17 07 2010

There is no work worthier than helping a child grow into a healthy, caring adult.

17 07 2010

We learned about Compassion 25 years ago through a man named Ernie. He was the type of person who would “drop in” and stay for hours and hours, and no matter what you were doing, he knew more about it than you did (I distinctly remember his giving me tips on breastfeeding).

He also had been sponsoring children through Compassion for years from the little that he made on Social Security. We met him because we spoke and wrote Spanish, and the Compassion girl that he had been sponsoring for 15 years was graduating from the program and the two of them did not want to lose track of one another. So Ernie hired us, insisting upon paying us $5 per letter, to do his translation work for him.

We did this for a year until Ernie moved away, and the next we heard of him was stumbling upon his obituary. Ernie was an irritating, long-winded, yet kind and gentle, incredibly lonely man, who shared the very very little he had with someone who had even less. And his Compassion sponsored child ADORED him (remember, we read the letters in order to do the translation).

Because of Ernie, we learned about Compassion, and in that 25 years, have sponsored many children. We have never had the privilege of meeting any of them personally, but we are grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of their lives through a monthly check, letters when I can write them, and birthday gifts.

I am glad for you that you are able to meet the children you sponsor, and I thank you for so graciously sharing your experiences and the photos that you took.

17 07 2010

What a great story of yours! Thank you, too, for sharing your time, resources, and talents for Compassion. God bless.

17 07 2010
The Mystery Princess Kwan Yin | fengshui

[…] A Day in the Life of Compassion « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings […]

18 07 2010
Alessandro Organization

day supplement that will supply some degree of disease risk reduction to those they care for. Alessandro Organization

18 07 2010

what is life ?

18 07 2010

Life is a gift from God not to be squandered on the pursuit of selfishness but of selflessness and service to others.

18 07 2010

I enjoy all pictures and all the colors especially the areas where children will be. At least with this program, you can meet the children, so you know your money is not just going to someone pushing papers.

18 07 2010

Thank you. One of the reasons we support Compassion is that they are very fiscally responsible. In fact, Charity Navigator, the leading watch dog for non-profits, has listed Compassion International as having the most consecutive four-star ratings of any organization of its kind in the nation.

18 07 2010

I enjoyed your post. Thank you for sharing this. It’s definitely food for thought.

Cheers, Niconica

18 07 2010

Thanks for reading! Spread the word.

18 07 2010

Wow! This is one of the most inspiring “fleshly pressed blogs” (Congratulations by the way!) that I have seen in a LONG time.
AWESOME to see that some Christians/churches out there still see the need for disciples to be made (not just “converts”) and are successfully, by the grace of God, teaching the Bible while also taking care of the poor.
May God continue to bless the works of your hands (Psalm 90).
Much love in Christ Jesus!
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126)

18 07 2010

Thank you for reading! I am overwhelmed by the response this post has received and doubly awed that it made the “freshly pressed” section. Please spread the good word about the work of Compassion International.

18 07 2010

Such an inspirational post and you are a great example to all. Lovely to see the photos as well, I look forward to reading other posts about you meeting the rest of “your kids”. It must be wonderful to finally meet them in person.

18 07 2010

Meeting our sponsored children has been a life-changing opportunity for me. I do not look at the world the same way, and am daily reminded of how blessed I am. Thanks for reading, and please spread the word.

18 07 2010

I adore Compassion and the work they do. They’re such a genuine organization. Thank you for posting this.

18 07 2010

Thank you for reading. Spread the good word about Compassion’s work.

18 07 2010
Daphne D. Williams

Excellent blog, posts and pictures. I loved your way with words. My intentions for logging on today was to find ways to get to the heart of my passion for writing, thus I desire to be to be more innovative and find interesting and exciting things to write on (I am not lost for words), I simply want to be significant in my writing, living, and giving.

While reading your post, it has given me some awesome ideas that I will write about. In my online magazine that I am planning to launch soon, I am always speaking of compassion, passion and helping others to obtain what you want in life.

Daily, I am discovering that what I need as well as want is to become more compassion for those less fortunante than myself, hence caring for others as you have done here. Each small amount makes a difference, and seeing these pictures have made that more clearer to me.

Family is a treasure to many, and traveling so many miles to visit family or to relax by the oceans side is strange to so many because of the value they place on these precious things and people. They may not have a lot of material (worldy) or simple items as their own beds with matching sheets(they are happy to simply have sheets, the ocean, smiles, food to share, and family).

Years ago, I use to sponsor children in other countries, and simply stopped, I don’t know if I ever had a valid reason for stopping, but after reading this passion driven blog post, I am so compelled to do more with my blog, writing, life, and money especially as it relates to having more compassion for those less fortuante than myself and loved ones.

I will be researching more about Compassion International and the others I use to give to. Please keep sharing your passion of love and caring for others with the world. U & It ROCKS!!!

As you directed in this blog and I quote:

“For those of you who don’t yet sponsor a child, please pray about beginning a sponsorship soon. It’s $38/month, but you are literally changing the course of history! Ending the cycle of poverty and providing an education to even one child will affect generations to come in a very positive way. Visit http://www.compassion.com today to begin your sponsorship. (Having seen our $38/month up close and in action, I can honestly say Compassion is the best child advocacy organization in existence.)”

Leveraging my online time, I am relaunching my blog at word press.org, at: http://www.Dwritewell.com

Keep doing what you do, its awesome, I will be following your lead to assist with ending poverty, while having more compassion for others. Great Job, Great Post, Great Pictures, Great People helping other Great People. You don’t know what you may have inspired your various sponsered children to become from your words and pictures. May God bless your journey with more compassion, wisdom, Agape (Godly Love), Shalom (peace), and finances to meet ALL your needs as well as the needs of the ones who need it most.

With Compassion, stay in touch!

God bless you,
Daphne Dwritewell Williams

18 07 2010

Thank you for your kind words. I wish you well with your blog (keep me posted; I will be checking it out.) May God richly bless your desires to lead a more compassionate and passionate life.

18 07 2010

Great Blog .. Very inspiring .. I’m sure it’s a beautiful feeling to meet kids who have thanked you practically every night before going to sleep and those who value the generosity of someone living thousands of miles apart. I have started a charity group here in Australia as well with a bunch of friends in affiliation with World Vision and are on our way to sponsor the group’s 4th child. Hope we are able to sponsor a lot more children in due course. I hope to post a similar post someday when I get a chance to meet one of my sponsored children. Thanks for sharing .. It truly is a fulfilling experience and after all ‘Life is also about giving and not just expecting’ !

18 07 2010

May God richly bless your efforts with your new charity group. I hope you will be able to meet your sponsored children someday. It really is an amazing experience. We have been blessed every bit as much as the kids we sponsor. I’ll be looking forward to a post on your blog about it someday.

18 07 2010
A Day in the Life of Compassion « My Buddy

[…] this article: A Day in the Life of Compassion Share and […]

19 07 2010
Arjay (--,)

Great post. I hope to hear more stories about Compassion International.

19 07 2010

Thank you for reading. I have been amazed at the positive response to this post. I’m working on my next post and hope to have it up in a few days, but it will be about another organization I am passionate about: the Ronald McDonald House.

19 07 2010

I am so impressed by how well organized this establishment is. I think you have done a wonderful thing for Liset and am sure all the children you sponsor bring you much joy. I have been very involved in orphanages in Africa and appreciate how difficult they are to run. It looks like this one has a lot of love to go around! Bravo! to you and your husband.

19 07 2010

Kudos to you for your work in Africa. My husband grew up in Zaire (when it was still called Zaire). His father was a Bible translator. Someday when the country is more stable, we will visit his home and hopefully two other kids we sponsor who live in Africa, one in Tanzania and the other in Kenya. God bless your efforts and thanks for reading.

19 07 2010
home jobs

I like this post.

19 07 2010

Thank you! Check back later this week for my next post about our work with the Ronald McDonald House.

19 07 2010
Body & Mind Balance

Wonderful to read about such a well-working program, I will definitely look into this. Thanks for sharing this pretty story.

19 07 2010

I wish you well as you look into sponsoring a child through Compassion. Their work is amazing. God bless!

19 07 2010

thanks for sharing, i like this post

19 07 2010

Thanks for reading! Check back in a few days for my next post.

21 07 2010

I love your story. I love that you and Matthew take the time and energy and save your money so that you can go on these amazing adventures. And I love that you both have a heart for charity and for serving. Thank you for sharing, friend!

21 07 2010

Thanks for reading Echo! I love reading your blog, too. I only wish you’d post more often; you have a beautiful and talented way with words. On another note, check this link on “Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed.” http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/five-ways-to-get-featured-on-freshly-pressed/

21 07 2010

thans for great sharing

23 07 2010
Force Factor Supplement

Aloha! Considering that I have spent a bit of time in the last hour-ish perusing through your blog posts, I decided I might slide in a brief note in your post comments in order to say hi. I’m really impressed with the quality of blog writing you’ve got on this blog here, and I will absolutely be back to say hello there once again in the near future. In any case I won’t vacuum up anymore of your time, I merely wanted to say hi there and see you around.

29 07 2010
Richard Macalintal

doing a noble cause like this is one of my mission. hopefully i can achieve that when the right time came. kudos to all of you there!

29 07 2010

Good luck and God bless you with your mission.

29 07 2010

Great blog! Keep up the good work! Best to all!

4 08 2010

Awesome site! I haven’t noticed wordpress.com before in my browsing!
Keep up the great work!

4 08 2010

Interesting website! I haven’t bumped on tokickapigeon.wordpress.com before in my searches!
Keep up the hard work!

17 08 2010

Great post! thank you for sharing this information. Keep up the good site…

6 12 2010
Steven Meaders

Awesome post mate.

4 09 2011

Legendary post, I enjoy this spectacular site,I found you along freshly pressed!

17 07 2012
Open My Eyes « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] Peru in 2009; and Liset in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2010 (read about that visit:  A Day in the Life of Compassion)—we knew this could be a life changing […]

17 07 2013

I’ve continued browsing and reading your blog, and I happened upon this beautiful post! 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and sharing tidbits with my husband as well. This post simply wets our appitite for more of the lovely country and people of the Dominican Republic in November! 🙂

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