Check Out Your Family Activity Guide

When a parent goes to prison, they leave their child at a higher risk for abuse, neglect, and crime. This is why it’s so critical that we work together to protect this vulnerable population. More than 10,000 children of prisoners have received life-giving services through The Child’s Journey, our child sponsorship program. These services include a dedicated Christian caseworker to ensure their safety, education support and school fees, access to healthcare and supplemental food supplies, Scripture resources, and community mentoring.

Your partnership in this ministry means the world to thousands of families, and children of prisoners all over the world. As a way to say thank you, we have created this downloadable Family Activity Guide. In the United States, many families are preparing for summer break. This time can be an important one for rest and to recharge, but also for reflection and having healthy conversations with each other.

Whether you have children of your own, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or even neighbors with children, we hope our Family Activity Guide will be a meaningful (and fun!) way to remember those in prison this summer. Inside the guide you’ll find games, stories, and interactive questions. We hope it can be a fruitful way to encourage understanding and mindfulness of the children of prisoners and their families that are served through The Child’s Journey.

Inside you will find:  

•          Daily Bible verses

•          Themed activities and crafts

•          Inspiring stories of the impact that you are making

•          Follow up questions and prayers

We pray that the activities and stories fill your days with fun, laughter, and togetherness while giving you a glimpse into the lives of children of prisoners around the world.

CLICK HERE to download your free guide today. 

If you would like to learn more about child sponsorship and start supporting a child through The Child’s Journey CLICK HERE

A child home visit with the Malawi team

Most of us have heard the saying, “It can be hard to understand someone’s struggle until you walk a mile in their shoes.” I had the privilege of visiting the Prison Fellowship team in Malawi and they invited me to walk with them both physically and spiritually as the led me through how they serve the children in The Child’s Journey.

Our day began at 6:45 am, as we would be heading out to visit some of the children and see what a typical home visit looks like for the Malawi team. Home visits are conducted at least once per quarter for each child in the program in order to allow staff to inspect the home and ask the family about any targeted support that they may need. After driving for more than 3 hours, we came to a side road riddled with pot holes. We slowly followed it for a few miles, grateful that we hadn’t lost a tire along the way. Finally, we stopped in front of a brick hut and saw Chimwemwe (Program Coordinator), Kelvin (Sponsorship Coordinator) and James (Caseworker), getting out of their car. Chimwemwe held colorful chitenges, multi-purpose fabric that women in Malawi tie around their waist, for us to wear. “You are now Malawi women!”,  she beamed as we finished tying them.

I was relieved to have arrived before I noticed that they were beginning to walk down a dirt path adjacent to where we parked. Kelvin yelled back, “We will park here and it is a short walk to the children.” The short walk to the house turned out to be 2.5 miles of washed out mountain roads – over streams, gullies and loose rocks. After more than an hour of walking – exhausted, sweaty, and bug-bitten – we finally turned into… a corn field. How they knew which row of corn to turn inside, I will never understand. Kelvin said it’s because they have “God’s GPS” in their brains. In a way, I guess that is true. If we listen to Him, He will lead us to those we can show His grace to.

The corn field opened to reveal a small brick structure with a thatched roof. Children were playing in the dirt in front of the house while a couple of neighbors were nursing their babies. Their mother had gone to harvest some food from the surrounding fields. While waiting for her, Chimwemwe introduced the children, who stared at us shyly. “What is your favorite part of the program?” she asked the oldest son. “Juice” was his succinct reply. Slowly they came over to shake our hands or sit.

When the mother returned with her harvest, Chimwemwe and James went through the questions on their home visit form: Had the children been sick? Do they need additional food supplies? How long do they anticipate their harvest will last? Are the children attending school? The responses were noted with care. After the initial questions were asked, Chimwemwe asked the mother how many people lived in the single-room home – seven. She then spoke with the family about how they could help them create an addition to the structure to give the children more space to sleep and fix leaks in the roof. The mother’s face lit up with joy as they began preparing the plan to bring those improvements to fruition. Next, Chimwemwe and James measured each child so that they could get them new school uniforms, as uniforms are required for all schooling in Malawi. As we were leaving, the mother grabbed our hands, squeezed them and quietly said, “Zikomo, zikomo.” – “Thank you, thank you.”

The trek back to our car was somehow more difficult going the other direction. We stopped multiple times to catch our breath and have relief from the blazing sun. During one of these rest stops, I realized this was the path that the children walk every day, twice, to go to school. When they say that they walk miles uphill both ways to go to school, they mean it. No buses or cars could possibly reach anywhere near their home. How do they do it? I asked Kelvin if this was an example of one of their most remote families – surely they didn’t have to walk hours for each one when they serve more than 500 children through their program. He responded, “This is a typical journey to see our families. After their family member commits a crime, they want to hide in a remote location, away from judgment. They don’t want people to find them.” The work didn’t stop once we finally got back to the car. The Malawi team began unloading backpacks, food supplies, and a Bible in the mother’s heart language. These were given to the grandfather of the children we had just visited for him to give to them the next day.

That visit showed me the true amount of work that each member of field staff puts into serving the children – and it is incredible to see. Chimwemwe described it best when she said, “Being a part of The Child’s Journey is not a job, it’s a calling. If I saw it as a job, I would always be tired. But it is my calling, so it brings me life.” We hope that you will keep our field staff in your prayers. They are so grateful for the support given by child sponsors in order to enable them to live their calling and provide care to the children of prisoners.

 

 

Joy and Hope Regained

Sandrine’s father passed away and her mother is incarcerated. She is trying to find her way in life but without the support, love, and guidance of her parents. Her future looked hopeless. And with no hope for a future, there seemed little reason to continue school.

Three years ago, Sandrine was enrolled in The Child’s Journey. She was given emotional and spiritual support, as well as tuition and nutrition assistance. “The services I received through the program have improved my life in many ways,” she says. “The support enabled me to continue my studies and prepare to have a brilliant future.”
What helped Sandrine regain hope and joy the most was receiving regular calls and visits from the program team. Team members and volunteers regularly contact Sandrine to check in with how she is doing emotionally, in her school work, health-wise, and if she has a safe living environment. “Knowing someone cares about my life makes my burdens less heavy to carry,” she says.

The Child’s Journey program stands in the gap for the children of prisoners, like Sandrine, who are otherwise overlooked and ostracized. Because Sandrine was sponsored and enrolled in the program, hope for a brighter future and trust in other people has been restored. Sandrine says, “May God bless the program and all individuals who, near or far, contribute to this support.”

“Back-to-School” Takes on a New Meaning

As COVID-19 begins to level out in Cambodia, some parts of life are returning to normal. Children are going back to school equipped with masks, school supplies, bookbags, bikes, and the love of learning. But for children of prisoners, their daily challenges continue and “back-to-school” is never a guarantee.

Many children of prisoners in Cambodia live in rural areas where it may be difficult to access education. Others simply cannot afford the small fees for school materials and uniforms and often will drop out of school and work to help provide for their families.

Our partner organizations—such as Prison Fellowship Cambodia—along with caring child sponsors are helping us protect children of prisoners in Cambodia by providing food, clothes, safety, spiritual and emotional care, and assistance to stay in school. Items as small as school supplies and money for uniforms can help children of prisoners—who are often stigmatized for having a parent in prison—feel welcomed among their peers and allow them to focus on their studies rather than their appearance. And a simple bicycle provides a small safety net to travel to and from school.

Ranata, a child of a prisoner, is grateful to return to school and for the help from her faithful sponsor. “I am so happy to get a school bag and money to pay for my school fees! I would like to thank Prison Fellowship Cambodia and my sponsor for helping.”

Prison Fellowship Cambodia continues to rise to these challenges, providing at-risk children and families essentials to meet the needs of their daily lives. And they’re making sure sponsors can see the difference they’re making in the lives of these precious children. Recently, Cambodia completed their Annual Progress Report campaign called “I Am Wonderfully Made!” where children shared with their sponsors—through notes, drawings, and health reports—how they’re progressing with their support.

When you sponsor a child of a prisoner you help provide essential items that make all the difference to their self-esteem and their safety.