It is clear COVID-19 will continue to disrupt education until proper testing procedures are in place and vaccines are widely administered. This is true for hundreds of millions of children in poorer countries where many schools remain closed with no opening date in sight. Already disadvantaged by extreme poverty and lack of technology, the children are now in danger of falling further behind. However, there is hope as international child development NGO’s like Compassion UK work with communities to provide the necessary infrastructure for virtual classes.
A survey, conducted among children and their families from a Compassion centre run by a local church partner in Peru, revealed that their most significant need was internet access for education purposes – a major issue across many developing nations. Compassion helped the centre to purchase an internet antenna for the community to allow the children to continue their education at home while restrictions are in place.
“We surveyed all the families to see how we can best serve our children during this time of crisis. We had already been following up with them, distributing food and hygiene kits. The results of the survey surprised us. Education and remote learning had become the biggest problem in our community,”
says Pastor Luis.
Purchasing internet plans for everyone was not financially viable so Pastor Luis and his team got together and after some discussion and prayer, they started to dream of installing their own internet antenna.
“We didn’t know what the outcome of our proposal was going to be. We knew it was expensive, but we never lost hope and trusted God to provide through Compassion, who always look out for the wellbeing of our children and our community,”
says Pastor Luis.
After a couple of months, Pastor Luis was working at his home office when he received a phone call. His request had been approved. “My heart was filled with gratitude. I first told my wife. She’s the centre director and loves children’s ministry. We were so excited. We hugged each other and thanked the Lord. I couldn’t wait to tell the whole church.”
The centre’s vision is: ‘Preparing children for a better future.’ Pastor Luis explains,
“Having internet these days is essential for the development of children and youth in all their activities. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to see this happening in our town. It’s a dream come true. We believe in sharing the gospel through both words and actions, and now all of the 426 children registered at the Compassion centre will receive the internet service for free.”
In addition to this, the authorities and mayor in town heard about the fantastic work the local church is doing on behalf of the children.
“They offered their help in speeding up the bureaucratic paperwork and permissions we needed to run the new antenna. We’ll also be joining efforts for different projects in the future. We’ll be offering affordable plans to everyone in our village, which is less than what they would normally pay to a regular internet company. With that, we’ll cover the cost of maintenance and miscellaneous expenses to operate the antenna,”
explains Pastor Luis.
The news brought excitement to the entire village. Children like seven-year old Romina and her five-year old brother Santiago are now able to do their schoolwork without expensive data packs and have a reliable connection to keep up with their studies from home. Before the antenna was installed, they would share their mother Ana’s phone for lessons. Precious money for food was set aside to buy data that would only last for five days at a time and would often be unreliable.
“My daughter used to get upset and cry many times, saying she couldn’t do it. I did my best to help, but its not the same as having face-to-face classes with her teaches. It was frustrating. As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to see your kids struggle. Now with the antenna installed, my daughter had a video call recently for a test with her teacher and she passed. She was very happy!”
The partnership with Compassion has granted Pastor Luis’ church a good reputation and credibility even beyond the borders of their community.
“The eyes of the media were on us locally and nationwide, probably even internationally. We’re very grateful. Compassion enables us to do what we’ve always wanted — to stand in the gap for the most vulnerable,”
says Pastor Luis.
“We want to keep working in alignment with Compassion’s vision, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, to give them a better quality of life. Thanks to this partnership, we know our children will be more be prepared to make the most of every opportunity in the future.”
“We’re also excited about families getting online to hear God’s word from now on. Many of them missed our church meetings and devotionals because they didn’t have WiFi,” adds Pastor Luis.
“Having my children at the centre is a great blessing. I see how they guide our children spiritually, and they show them the way they should go,” says Ana. “We also know that behind this there are many people helping and giving, and I want everyone to know that what the centre is doing for us is not in vain; thank you!”
To find out more about how you can help to bring hope, education and much needed support to children like Romina, go to www.compassionuk.org.