See hope come to life in a purpose-built slum – that’s the thinking behind the Compassion Experience, a major front-of-house feature at CRE 2018.
Originally constructed in the USA and inspired by an initiative of Compassion International, the Compassion Experience made its UK debut at Edgeborough School in Farnham when nearly 250 children and over 70 adults past through its doors.
Housing interactive, tactile, audio and visual stories of Sameson, the Experience follows the lives of a boy from Ethiopia and Shamim, a girl from Uganda. Both Sameson and Shamim grew up experiencing the vulnerability, restrictions and dangers that poverty brings in their respective cultures and contexts.
Beth O’Reilly, a Year 3 teacher at Edgeborough, said: ‘We aim to cultivate our children’s global perspectives and to teach them about life outside of Farnham. We want to encourage our children to recognise that not all young people have the same opportunities that we have. By involving alternative educational tools such as the Compassion Experience, we hope to provide the children we teach with an experience that will not only be memorable, but also effective in helping them to develop attributes such as compassion and to contemplate how they might make a difference in the world.’
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.
‘We brought the Compassion Experience to the UK to bring the developing world to our doorsteps,’ said Justin Dowds, CEO of Compassion UK. ‘When people think of poverty, they often think of the lack of material things, but actually poverty is the lack of freedom to make meaningful choices. Poverty narrows children’s horizons and undermines their ambitions. Through our holistic child development program Compassion stirs hope in children. You can witness that hope coming to life through the Compassion Experience.’
‘The Compassion Experience will enable visitors to CRE to experience another world without leaving their own,’ explains Compassion UK’s Caroline Cameron. ‘We hope hundreds of visitors will consider bringing the trailer to their local churches and schools. Most importantly the presentation will offer a message of hope for children sponsored through our world-class child development programe.’