“There they are.” These three words get our group running to the windows of our guest house every morning as hundreds of children come rushing through the gate at HOPE school. Today was no different. We quickly put on our shoes and went outside to greet, hug, kiss and love these children who were thrilled to see us.

But, today, we learned more about these children than many of us are even comfortable knowing. We saw the horrible conditions they live in as we visited the homes of five children that attend HOPE school. We saw poverty in its full ugliness as we walked into small homes, about the size of a walk-in closet many of us may be familiar with, that had dirt floors covered by rugs, poor or no electricity and mud or tarp walls. Besides muddy entrances to the homes, we saw chickens, goats, cats and dogs near their front doors. And, as we entered each home, a caring adult met us, though incapable of making a living because of sickness, blindness or lack of skills.

It broke our hearts to leave the children that we have quickly grown to love in such a deplorable environment. What can we do? How can we fix it? We now cry in our hearts as we see the suffering that occurs as these children are the poorest of the poor, where suffering is most acute.

The bus ride back to HOPE was quiet as we reflected on what we saw. But, as we thought about the day when we had earlier toured HOPE school, we recognized the good fortune these children actually have, unlike so many others, because they attend school at HOPE. They get two meals a day, a pair of shoes, two school uniforms that are washed once a week, a weekly shower and medical care. Equally important, they get an education and vocational skills that hopefully will allow them to eventually get a job and be lifted out of poverty. This school is appropriately named because it does provide hope and a future to the poor. One of the boys at the school, when asked today about his parents, said that HOPE school is his mother and father because HOPE has taken care of him.

We are thankful that HOPE school, a ministry supported by MPPC, is serving these children with the compassion of God.