Welcome back to the final blog in our four-part series, discussing the positive effects of sponsorship on a child’s mental, spiritual, emotional and physical development. This blog unpacks how sponsorship impacts a child’s physical development.  

Children need more than just food or education to break free from poverty. That’s why Tearfund and Compassion have a holistic approach to child development. We want to help children grow up to be adults who are empowered to escape poverty.  

“Being healthy” probably evokes different images for everyone. Some of us may be trying to remember the last time we hit the gym or are instantly reminded of that triple-fudge brownie we regret eating at lunchtime. 

But for families living in poverty, being healthy has a wholly different meaning. It means access to safe water and latrines, so a child no longer gets sick with diarrhoea, typhoid or cholera. It means prevention, health education, and access to treatment for mosquito-borne diseases. It means making sure pregnant mums are healthy, have access to medical care and are educated about keeping their babies healthy.  

That’s why every child in Compassion’s sponsorship programme receives regular health screenings, dental check-ups and access to immunisations. Depending on the needs and resources in a particular community, children receive nutritious food each time they visit the Compassion centre. This could be either a full meal or healthy snack. When a child is at risk of, or suffering from undernutrition, they are provided with the care and extra food supplies they need. 

Six-year-old Danna from Colombia is an example of a child who benefitted from Compassion’s sponsorship approach. When Danna was three, she was registered at the centre and diagnosed with severe undernutrition. She was thin, frail and had a weak immune system. Her mum couldn’t afford more than bread and potatoes, and Danna wasn’t getting the quantity of food nor the nutrients her body needed. 

Untitled-design-(5).jpgSix-year- old Danna from Colombia.

Compassion centre staff began providing Danna with fortified snacks to help her build strength. It was a difficult transition as Danna was used to eating so little at home that she struggled to finish her snacks at the centre. But her tutor, Luz Dary, would (and still does) sit with and encourage her during meal times to slowly build up her tolerance to food. Luz also continues to track Danna’s height and weight every month, and is encouraged to see that she is now close to being at a healthy height and weight for her age! 

Not all health issues are found during medical check-ups. When a child’s health appears to be at risk, staff address the issue immediately to avoid death.  

An example of this situation is Mackline from Kenya. Mackline was twelve when she began experiencing sharp abdominal pain. Her sister Totti, had also experienced the same symptoms several years before. Totti’s health had declined rapidly, and despite her parents’ exhaustive search for a diagnosis and treatment, she passed away just months later. 

Untitled-design-(6).jpgMackline from Kenya.

But this time, the family wasn’t alone. With the help of the church, Mackline was referred to a hospital in the city. After an exhausting series of scans and tests, the doctors had a diagnosis: liver cancer. 

Mackline was able to start chemotherapy immediately and had the combined help of Compassion and a family support programme at the hospital. It was a difficult and terrifying fight, but Mackline responded well to the chemotherapy and has had a strong recovery. 

Untitled-design-(7).jpgMackline holding a photo of her at the hospital.

Education also ties into physical development, as our church partners teach children about good hygiene and proper sanitation. Things like hand washing, proper washroom habits and dental care are taught and reinforced at the Compassion centre, and encouraged at home. Parents are also educated on the cause, prevention and treatment of illnesses like HIV and hepatitis, as well as mosquito and water-borne diseases. 

A child’s physical health is so important, and our church partners do everything in their power to address the physical needs of each child through medical care and regular check-ups, disease prevention initiatives and ongoing education.  

If you’d like to read the other blogs in this series about how sponsorship positively affects the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspect of a child’s development, read the stories below.

How does sponsorship help a child's mental development?

How does sponsorship help a chid's spiritual development? 

How does sponsorship help a child's emotional development?


Want to know more about child sponsorship?




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