Nearly a year ago now, I was approached to be the castaway on Desert Island Discs. Since being asked, James and I have had many conversations about the 8 tracks I would choose. It sounds easy when you say “Yes, no problem” to being castaway, but when the month of November arrived and Alan wanted a list of tracks, I realised just how difficult it is to choose just 8 pieces of music. For those of you who attended, you’ll know I have a very eclectic taste, which just made it even harder as I could just choose my favourite 8 choral or 80s electro pop tracks. Bit by bit I narrowed it down to pieces of music that had meaning for different stages of my life.
Choosing the tracks turned out to be the easy bit though! I am by nature quite shy and private, so the realisation that I was actually going to have to talk about myself in public, was way more challenging than choosing 8 pieces of music, in fact I would have been quite happy to be castaway to that desert island once the day actually arrived! Still it turned out to be an interesting experience and Alan was a great host who put me at ease, especially as he has put some of my music on his Father Christmas list!
Best of all was the opportunity to raise money for Compassion UK. I became involved with Compassion 20 years ago when I sponsored my first child, Radhika in India. This delightful little girl and I wrote letters back and forth building a lovely relationship. She came from the slums of Bangalore and yet her Methodist church project was an oasis of beauty and peace. There she learnt skills in sewing and went on to set up her own tailoring business. She became a faithful Christian who ran a Bible study in her lunchtime at school. Following Radhika, I sponsored children from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda – adding a child each time I had a promotion.
In 2010, I became an advocate for Compassion and began speaking on behalf of the charity to find more sponsors for children living in extreme poverty across the world. Then in January 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to see Compassion at work in Rwanda and meet my sponsor child Razaro.
Whilst there I saw the damage extreme poverty causes, it isn’t just the lack of food, clean water or a decent home – it is the lack of hope that people face that is so shocking. In contrast, the children sponsored by Compassion were full of joy and hope, they were articulate and self confident. They knew they were loved – by the church workers, by their sponsor and most importantly by God. I know everyone worries about how charities use the finances they are given, by I was so impressed with how much Compassion were able to do with the funds I donated each month.
Compassion work directly through the local church, as they know their communities best. Many willing volunteers give their time and energy to providing each child with love and care. I had the privilege of visiting churches, homes and families to meet children who might not otherwise have survived. These are all real children with their own unique stories. Each child benefits from having a sponsor who believes in them and is willing to pray for them. Sponsoring a child is so much more than meeting physical needs, it’s also about telling a child they are valued and loved by God. As well as education, nutritious food and medical check-ups, a Compassion sponsored child also receives health and hygiene training, vocational skill training and mentoring to help them discover their God-given potential.
I have been privileged enough to meet 5 of my children and make visits to Rwanda and Kenya. I have heard such sad stories of families’ experiences and also stories of transformation as God has worked in their lives. Ask most Compassion children where they would be without the support and they’ll tell you they wouldn’t have survived. That’s why my one essential music track is the one which reminds of my work with Compassion. I’ve seen how it works, several of my children have been to university, one runs her own charity in Uganda. Each one has been released from poverty in Jesus name and their lives are far different from those of their parents before them.
Thanks to Desert Island Discs we raised £200 for the work in Togo and the Philippines; James and I have match funded this so we can support projects in Thailand and Burkina Faso as well. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed – funds make such a difference to churches working in poverty.
If anyone would be interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion, you can come and speak to me or visit www.compassionuk.org. You can also support projects for young mums and babies; clean water; support for those caught up in natural disasters or child protection training for families.