Amy Lupold Bair, known for being the creator of Twitter parties and the founder of Resourceful Mommy, recently joined other bloggers and Compassion International on a trip to Tanzania. Read about what the trip meant to her and what social good efforts are in her future.
I have only been home for a week and a half, so right now I am just coming out of what I am calling a jet lag fog. With that said, my mind is spinning with ideas ranging from more ways to help fund Compassion International initiatives to wanting to walk away from work entirely and bake and sew all day.
Amy, what were your initial feelings when you found out you were going to Africa with Compassion International?
Amy Lupold Bair: This was the third time that I had received an opportunity to travel with a faith-based organization, and the first two times I chose work obligations over the trip opportunity. While this was my first time hearing from Compassion, I felt as though the cumulative effect of all three opportunities was a wake-up call, God clearly trying to get my attention. I have been very blessed both professionally and personally, and I felt that it was time to give up control and go where I was told to go for this short time. There were moments of doubt – I missed my son’s sixth birthday, my daughter’s anxiety producing orthodontist appointment, her Cherub Choir graduation – but those doubts and concerns all seemed trivial when I thought about what I would be experiencing in Tanzania. Despite my fears, in my heart I was all in from the second I got that email asking if I would consider going.
Tell us a little bit about your trip and the work Compassion International does for people in the places you visited in Tanzania.
Amy Lupold Bair: The mission of Compassion International is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. My family has sponsored a child through Compassion since 2009, but it was not until I visited the Child Development Centers that I truly understood the power of $38 a month. What they are able to do with that small amount of money goes far beyond moving the child out of financial poverty. Compassion also works to release the children from spiritual, social, and physical poverty in addition to economic poverty. Beyond the work they do with each sponsored child, I was also able to witness the impact on the entire family and community. Sponsoring one child in a family removes a great burden for the entire family, making it more likely that they can afford to send their other children to school, feed them, and clothe them adequately. The Compassion sponsored children are also able to share what they are learning with their siblings and parents as well as the children in the homes around them.
The work that Compassion International does in Tanzania also extends far beyond their child sponsorship program and Child Development Centers. Other initiatives meet the needs of the people during time of disasters such as the on-going drought in Tanzania and provide medical assistance in situations that cost more than what the sponsor donation covers. Throughout our week in Tanzania we were able to visit multiple Child Development Centers, hear from the Program Directors, speak with families whose children are sponsored, and even hear testimony from those who have benefited from drought relief. It was incredible to see the classrooms and materials that exist in large part due to sponsor donations and to hear from the children themselves as they shared their goals for the future. Many of them hope to someday attend university and be able to give back to their families and communities. Compassion is truly changing the life story for each of the children sponsored.
I know visiting Africa can be a life-changing experience. Did your trip change you? If so, in what way(s)?
Amy Lupold Bair: I have only been home for a week and a half, so right now I am just coming out of what I am calling a jet lag fog. With that said, my mind is spinning with ideas ranging from more ways to help fund Compassion International initiatives to wanting to walk away from work entirely and bake and sew all day. Clearly some of my impulses are more reasonable than others. During a discussion on our last night of the trip, we were urged to not make any major life decisions for at least a month. I know that there will be changes, I am just not sure yet what shape they will take. For once in my life I am going to try my best to be patient and do as I am told. Wait.
It’s been less than a month since you’ve been back home from Africa. What were some of the emotions you felt after visiting Tanzania and returning to the States?
Amy Lupold Bair: Guilt, frustration, sadness, urgency, hope. I’m finding it difficult to focus on work in the same way that I did prior to my trip, but I also know that that work gives me both the platform and the income to be able to make a difference for the children that I met. It is going to be a long road to figure out where to go from here.
There is definitely a transition period after returning from a humanitarian trip like the one you just embarked upon. What are your plans to continue the social good work you’ve been doing?
Amy Lupold Bair: My first goal is to continue to work with Compassion International if possible, specifically through social media outreach and speaking engagements in my community. I also plan to be a better sponsor! I did not realize the incredible meaning sponsor letters have for the children, so we plan on writing more often to our sponsored children. We currently sponsor one child in Ethiopia, one in Tanzania, and partial sponsorship of a child in Tanzania through a group at church. I would also like to sponsor more children if possible. Beyond Compassion, I am hoping to work with other organizations who can benefit from my social media voice beginning this summer with Shot@Life, hoping to eradicate child deaths from preventable illnesses. Hopefully this is just the beginning…
Visit Amy at Resourceful Mommy and on Twitter at @resourcefulmom. Visit Compassion International at Compassion.com.
Photo Credits: Scott at Big is the New Small and Kelly Marie Scott