Garcia Family's Compassion Experience

A few weeks ago I came across a post on social media about a traveling exhibit called the "Compassion Experience". The simple description said the interactive exhibit would put me in the life of a child living in poverty in the Philippines. I knew this was going to be a great experience for my boys. It would bring to life the stories I've shared with them about less fortunate kids in the world.

Although I was born in the United States, I have a spot in my heart for the county where my parents are from. I can recall the times I've visited the Philippines and seeing the street kids begging.

There was an instance when my husband and I, along with some family members went sightseeing. As we were driving through the streets of Manila, at every stop light, our car was mobbed by street kids. At least a dozen kids approached the car, peering and knocking onto our windows and asking for money. They were dirty, with dingy clothes, all with slippers, many of which were broken. I vividly remember a young girl, no more than 10 years old, carrying a baby of a few months with her as she begged. It was heart breaking.

Display at the Compassion Experience
Our family members advised us to not open the windows and to not give them money. They advised us more than once because they saw how much we wanted to help the kids. After about three lights, I couldn't take it. I pulled some change out of my purse and opened the window. Within seconds, the mob of kids tripled around our car, our windows blackened by the bodies of children surrounding our car making it hard to leave once the light turned green. 

All my cousin could say was , "I told you not to open the window..."

Image from Google Images
Back to the Compassion Experience...

The Compassion Experience was held at New Hope Church in the Chula Vista suburb of San Diego. Once we arrived, there was a bit of a line. Once at the front of the line, we were given headphones and an iPod to guide us and narrate the exhibit.

We first met Kiwi from the Philippines. It started with putting us in the scene of the hospital where she as born via c-section with no anesthesia because of the limited resources in the province where she lived. We went through her hut home in the county, the wet market where her family made a living, her school, and her other home in the city which became flooded every time it rained.

In our ears, Kiwi told us about her life, her alcoholic father, and the struggles her family has every day. I couldn't help but tear up during this exhibit as I thought of the street kids who begged at our car in the Philippines. I thought about the young girl with the baby in her arms as she begged.

The next exhibit was Jonathan from the Dominican Republic. He told us of being responsible for selling juice with his mom to feed the family and provide for their needs. Often times what they made was not enough. He talked going to school with his tattered uniform and his shoes held together by string and cardboard. He shared the heart breaking story of his dad who disowned him and left him and his mom for another family. 

Both stories ended with their experience with Compassion International. Both Kiwi and Jonathan shared how through Compassion International their lives changed for the better. With the help of their sponsors from Compassion International, their daily needs were provided for, they received an education, and they both are giving back to their communities as adults.

I was impressed with how engaged my sons where throughout the exhibit. They seemed to get lost in the stories they were hearing. A few times they asked clarifying questions, terms they didn't understand, or concepts they hadn't heard of before. 

At the end of the exhibit, we saw the profiles of young people all over the world who are in need of sponsors through Compassion International. My eldest son begged for us to sponsor a child. He wouldn't let us leave unless we did so.  

We took a look at the display of children from the Philippines. Since we have two sons, we decided we wanted to sponsor a little girl from the Philippines. Unfortunately, there were no girls from the Philippines on display. We had a asked the staff if they had any girls from the Philippines to sponsor. 

She left and came back with four little girls to choose form. We decided to choose a little girl born the same year as our youngest. As we started to read her profile, we came to realize her birthday was the same as my late-grandfather's, which happened to be the following day of our Compassion Experience. The little girl's name, Jillianne, was also similar to my grandfather's name Julian and is also the name sake of my eldest son. It seemed like it was meant to be for our family to sponsor little Jillianne. 

I'm looking forward to our letters and communication with Jillianne! My boys are super excited to start receiving letters and writing their own letters to her. I'll be sharing our experiences here periodically. 

To visit upcoming Compassion Experience in your area, visit To sponsor a child for yourself, visit