‘Compassion experience’ coming to Alabaster

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – An interactive experience aimed at giving locals a look at what it’s like to face poverty in a developing country will be coming to an Alabaster church in the coming weeks.

Compassion International, a child sponsorship program working to bring children out of poverty throughout the world, will be bringing its tour, “The Compassion Experience,” to Alabaster’s Westwood Baptist Church from Nov. 4-7. The event will educate visitors about the realities of life in poverty as well as provide an international experience to visitors who may not ever have the opportunity to travel abroad to a developing country.

The four-day event will be set up in the parking lot of Westwood Baptist Church at 1155 Alabaster Blvd. in Alabaster. There, visitors will be invited on a self-guided journey where they will be immersed in the lives and stories of two children living in the Philippines or the Dominican Republic. Each child’s story will start in hardship, but ends in hope.

The free experience includes 1,700 square feet of exhibit space, featuring replicas of the homes and environments of the two children.

“We built ‘The Compassion Experience’ in order to really bring the developing world to America,” said Mark Hanlon, Compassion International’s senior vice president of global marketing and engagement. “When people think of poverty, they often think of the lack of things, the lack of stuff, the lack of money. Those are all symptoms of poverty. The real issue of poverty is the lack of hope. Through our holistic child development program, Compassion stirs hope in children. And you’ll see that hope come to life at this event.”

The tour will be interactive, using individual iPods and headsets to offer visitors a sense of what life is like in extremely poverty-stricken areas around the world where the World Bank estimates 700 million live on less than $1.90 a day. In the areas Compassion serves, nearly one in five children die before the age of 5, mostly from preventable causes, and 124 million children worldwide do not attend school. Tour-goers will have the opportunity to “change the story” of children living in poverty by learning more about the issue, as well as Compassion’s child sponsorship program, which tackles global poverty one child at a time.

Compassion currently serves more than 1.9 million children in 26 of the world’s most impoverished countries.

For more information about “The Compassion Experience,” visit CompassionExperience.com, @compassion_exp on Twitter, and Facebook.com/CompassionExperience on Facebook.