On the 23rd of September, child development charity Compassion UK officially launched The Compassion Experience at The King’s Arms Church, Ampthill Road. Minister of State and MP for North East Bedfordshire Alistair Burt opened the event.
The Compassion Experience is a mobile exhibition space created by child development charity, Compassion UK, inviting people to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a developing country.
The space houses the stories of Sameson, a boy from Ethiopia and Shamin, a girl from Uganda who became deaf after contracting malaria. Both Sameson and Shamin grew up experiencing the vulnerability, restrictions and dangers that poverty brings in their respective cultures and contexts.
Alistair Burt, appointed Minister of State for the Department for International Development and Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth office this June, opened the event, highlighting the importance of the 2020 Sustainable Development Goals, especially the first – to eliminate extreme poverty throughout the world.
“As a country you can be extremely proud that you are part of a generation that’s committed to 0.7% of our Gross National Income goes into development. It works, it’s important. But governments can’t address poverty on their own; addressing problems in our world involves the private sector, NGOs and all of us as people.
“I’ve sponsored a child for over twenty years in different places in the world, so we believe sponsorships works and we see a need for it. We see it as an effective way of delivering support and changing the lives of children. This Experience is all about children…from what I’ve seen the Compassion Experience will be helpful in people understanding a part of that journey that children make. We can help move children along this journey, by making sure they are healthy in the first place, supporting children to get a good education and later, to get a decent job to support themselves.”
“I want to say a big thank you to all the children who are here – these are your friends, these are your brothers and sisters all over the world. If you stick with them, they will be your friends when you’re older as you work more closely together.”
Compassion is an international child development charity with more than 60 years’ experience working with some of the world’s poorest children. At present more than 1.8 million children attend Compassion’s church-based projects in 25 of the world’s poorest countries.
To celebrate the launch of The Compassion Experience, the church hosted bead and basket-making sessions, carpentry workshops and a selection of African snacks and Ethiopian coffee. The team at Access Bedford, who work with the deaf and hard of hearing community in the local area, also ran a children’s sign language workshop.
Caroline Cameron, Head of The Compassion Experience at Compassion UK shares, “The Compassion Experience is now officially up and running – quite literally - ready to be used across the UK to help stir the hearts and minds of people to the plight of children living in extreme poverty. I want every person to know that they can make a difference to the life of a child, a community, a town, a region, a nation – one child at a time. Poverty is on the decrease and, through sponsoring a child, we are making that happen. I encourage every person to experience another world, without leaving theirs – join us in the Compassion Experience.”
The Compassion Experience is teaming up with United Christian Broadcasters to bring live broadcasts to their audience from across the country. Following the launch, The Compassion Experience tour will continue to churches, schools and other venues across the UK.