Child Sponsorship Highlight: Persecution and Identity
04/06/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On an average day, 12-year-old child sponsorship recipient Heba Yasser can be found in her family home helping her mother with household responsibilities. Gone are the days of playing carefree in the streets and spending hours in school buildings. More than a year since Heba’s life drastically changed, this has become her daily routine.
When ICC’s education center, Hope House, temporarily closed due to COVID-19, many other normal life rhythms were also interrupted for Heba, a center attendee for several years. One of these was routine doctor’s appointments. According to Heba’s mother, Susan, doctor’s appointments became challenging to schedule amidst exposure concerns, availability, and priority levels. Heba struggles with vision problems and routinely visits her eye doctor to address her failing vision. These appointments became hard to obtain and afford, particularly for a poorer, Christian family like hers. For several months, Heba went without seeing her doctor, desperate for relief for her eyes.
Heba’s father also struggled, with her mother commenting, “her father has some chest problems. Because of lockdown, he was also facing some problems. Now he works well in the market and thanks that the corona cases have decreased.” This delayed access to healthcare and high medical burden further pushes her family into the cycle of socio-economic persecution.
Another aspect of persecution that Heba’s family faces is isolation. Heba no longer spends her time out in the community, but rather she spends her time at home, supporting her mother. Isolated Christians suffer more from persecution than those living in Christian community villages. This can include attacks from those ascribing to radical Islam. For Heba, the isolation from the rest of her community does not allow her to benefit from the shared experiences, resources, and support that would help her to grow.
Heba misses “learning from the teachers” and their personalized approach towards each student. She is determined to return to school so that she can “get a certificate like all the well-educated.” Through Hope House and education at the community level, ICC seeks to address persecution and its long-term effects. Underneath Heba’s words is a mindset that her identity is lesser than as a poor Christian, and she only has worth if she is educated. Spiritual lessons at Hope House address this mindset brought on by external persecution pressures. Yet, the drive for education seeks to push Heba and other children like her out of their current situations.
By bolstering each individual child’s education and opportunity for growth, ICC hopes to equip the next generation at the community level to combat their socio-economic persecution. Child sponsorship goes above and beyond just education and provides additional incentives for parents and children to remain in school. Child sponsorship supports Heba through her education, but it also offered doctor visits and eyeglasses, free of charge, for her family. Nutritional food packages, medical care, clothing distribution and more are all routine parts of the program. Would you consider helping a child like Heba with these necessities?
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