A regional director for Compassion International said Tuesday that a $79 water filtering device can save lives and prevent illnesses that will allow children around the world to get an education and escape poverty and blight.
Rick Schluep, former managing editor of the old Greenfield Daily Times, has been with Compassion International for more than 16 years, first as a volunteer and then more than 8 years as a staff member. Schluep told Hillsboro Rotarians about the organization’s efforts to assist the long-term development of children worldwide.
Compassion International “exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults,” according to an organization description. “Jesus Christ is at the heart of our ministry. This corporate commitment drives the content of our programs, characterizes the kind of people we hire, and guides our ethics.”
Schluep said the water available for children in poverty is often hauled from miles away to their homes, and contains bacteria that leads to cholera, parasites and typhoid. To combat that problem, Compassion International provides a “Water of Life” filtration system that is easily attached to a hose and which purifies the drinking water.
Schluep brought a bucket of dirty water to Tuesday’s Rotary meeting and demonstrated how the filtration system cleanses the water. After filling a cup with the purified water, Schluep asked for a volunteer to drink it. Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, a Rotarian, volunteered, and agreed that the water tasted good.
Schluep said the filtering element is based on kidney dialysis technology, and removes 99.9 percent of bacteria from water. Providing safe water for children to drink – as well as to wash hands, brush teeth and use for other general hygienic purposes – allows them to attend school rather than miss classes because of preventable diseases, said Schluep. The organization seeks sponsors to purchase the devices for families in the impacted areas.
He said 17,000 children under age 5 die every day around the world from easily preventable diseases. But he said that number represented an improvement from 42,000 a day when he started with the organization.
Schluep said that 98 percent of malnourished children live in the developing world. He showed slides of blighted living conditions from places like Ethiopia and Port au Prince in Haiti.
“We are not community based,” said Schluep. “We take one child at a time.” He said Compassion International only works with local churches in the communities that are served. The organization partners with churches and denominations in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America.
“We equip, empower and support those churches to do the work on the ground,” said Schluep. “We are not a relief organization. We want to develop them.” He said that children who spend 4,000 hours in Compassion International’s program are shown to be “much more likely to be successful.”
“Holistic child development means we begin, in some cases, with prenatal care and go all the way through leadership development for qualified young adults,” according to an organization description. “It means we take a long-term approach to what we do and go beyond simple involvement in the lives of the children and families we serve.”
More information about Compassion International and opportunities to become involved can be found online at www.compassion.com.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.