Compassion International believes that the key to understanding what life is like in developing countries is to get a small glimpse of what children face in developing nations every day.
Compassion International will help provide that glimpse with the Compassion Experience, an interactive mobile experience that will be in downtown Raleigh Jan. 19, 20 and 21. The experience is 2,000 square feet of an interactive journey that takes visitors through homes, markets and schools in less-developed nations.
“Most people don’t understand what Third World poverty looks like and probably will never go to a Third World country,” said Mike Kracker, North Carolina’s volunteer coordinator for Compassion International. “This brings the visual directly to them, to see it up close and personal. Knowing how they live can give them a perspective of how big the need is.”
Visitors will carry portable electronic devices and wear headphones as they listen and watch while a Compassion child explains where they are standing in the exhibit and where to go next. The children featured in the Raleigh experience are from Bolivia and Uganda.
“I have been to four countries with Compassion and vouch for the realism of this display,” Kracker said.
Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that operates in 25 countries around the world. Sponsors pay $38 a month for a one-on-one relationship with a child.
“Thirty-eight dollars doesn’t seem like much, but it goes a long way in a Third World country,” Kracker said. “When you consider that most of the people we minister to earn less than $2 a day, it makes a big impact. When you have to pay to go to school, pay rent, buy food and clothing, that money doesn’t go very far.”
The organization uses the sponsorship money to not only provide economic relief from poverty, but to address social, physical and spiritual poverty as well.
“There are social skills learned, medical issues covered, and most importantly from our perspective, spiritual opportunities,” Kracker said. “Every child is guaranteed to hear the Gospel. That comes about because of that sponsorship.”
The Compassion program is Christ-centered, and each sponsored child is linked with a church in his or her own community to help facilitate assistance including educational opportunities and healthcare. The relationship between child and sponsor is not anonymous. Photos and letters can be shared both ways.
The interactive experience will be at the southwest corner of Person and Minerva streets in downtown Raleigh, near Vintage Church Downtown. The self-guided tour takes about 20 minutes to complete and is appropriate for all ages. Reservations are encouraged but are not required.
What: The Compassion Experience
Where: The southwest corner of Person and Minerva streets (near Vintage Church, 118 S. Person St., Raleigh)
When: noon to 7:40 p.m., Jan. 19; 11 a.m. to 6:40 p.m., Jan. 20; 10 a.m. to 5:40 p.m., Jan. 21
Cost: Free. Appropriate for children.