Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Post - Rebecca Allen

Rebecca is passionate about all children having the opportunities and support that they need to meet their full potential and live out their dreams. She loves traveling with a purpose, loving on the least of these, hiking, her dog, and anything that appeases the adventure junkie deep within. She shares her thoughts and stories of the great pursuit for "more of Him and less of me" over at She Becomes, where you are always welcome to stop by and say hi.

I have always had a love of geography. There is something so intriguing about places and cultures completely different than my own. But it wasn't until I began sponsoring Ruth in April of 2010 that I really started looking for creative ways to share this love with my Compassion kids.

Ruth, 2010
Ruth, who is now 20, told me in her introduction letter that her favorite subject is geography. Although she learns geography in school, resources in her small Ugandan village are limited. Ruth has a love for learning, and also wants to be a teacher. These factors inspired me to share my resources and experiences with her, as well as my other Compassion children.

I began by including U.S. maps with my letters (printed off the internet), showing my kids where I live in the United States, as well the places I visit, where my family lives, and in general the places I talk about in my letters. Jill recently gave us a great example of how to do this in her post titled Maps, which can be found HERE.

Then, one day several months ago, I was staring at my prayer wall which included a large world map.

With Ruth's birthday coming up, I decided the world map would not only be a special birthday gift, but a tool she could use to learn more about the world. I decided that along with the map I would send information pages and pictures of different places around the world each month, starting first with the countries where Ruth has Compassion brothers and sisters.

I broke the cardinal rule in the map world and folded the map as tightly as I could, praying it wouldn't be too thick to pass the strict mailing guidelines. Last month I recieved a letter from Ruth, and the map made it through!
Ruth and her family, 2011.

"I thank God who has given you time to save and write for a girl like me and I know that I learn much from your letters since I like geography. I was very happy with the world map and I learnt a lot from the map you sent. I saw many countries that I had never heard of." -Ruth, from a letter written in April, 2012
Each month I send Ruth a geography related page along with a personal letter. So far we have talked about Haiti, India, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe. I will continue to share with Ruth, currently about places where I have been, and then about places I want to go, or that she would like to learn more about. When I write about a country I have visited, I try to include photos and stories to make it more personal. 

Here is an example of a letter I sent to Ruth, telling her about the country of Haiti, as well as her Compassion brother who lives there. I included a smaller map to help Ruth find Haiti on her large world map. (Of course, for younger children, information can be broken down into a few key facts about a country).

If you would like a printable version of a world map, examples can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.

With the Olympics taking place, right now is a great time to share about places and people around the world that your Compassion kids may not know exist. There are many inspirational athletes and interesting sports. One idea would be to highlight a person or team, and talk about where they are from.

From magazines, television shows, the internet, text books, stories and photos shared by friends, and our own travels, we all have incredible access to learning about this great world that God created. Having this opportunity to learn about, see, and even go to places around the world that are different than our own communities is something many of us take for granted, and something that most of our Compassion kids are unable to do. What a wonderful opportunity we have to share the world with our kids.

Geography is more than just finding a spot on a map. It is opening windows to other cultures, landscapes, foods, traditions, celebrations, families, and stories. Sharing these places and people with our Compassion kids is one of the many gifts which we have the opportunity to give them.

How have you involved your Compassion kids in learning about where you live, your culture, and the world beyond? Have you been able to use Compassion to teach your own kids, or children in your life, more about the world around them?

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