TALK OF THE TOWN: From Columbia to Colombia through the Compassion Experience

(Source: Compassion International)
(Source: Compassion International)
(Source: Compassion International)
(Source: Compassion International)
(Source: Compassion International)
(Source: Compassion International)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - What's it really like for a young one to live in extreme poverty?

Shandon Baptist Church is giving you a chance to see through its Columbia to Colombia Compassion Experience. The traveling exhibit is through Compassion International, a worldwide organization making a difference for children in extreme poverty for more than 60 years.

With more than 1700 square feet of interactive space, you'll journey from hardship to hope in a free tour that introduces you and your family to the realities of a child in poverty.

Pastor George Wright of Shandon Baptist Church says this is an incredible, life-changing opportunity to experience another world without leaving yours.

The sights and sounds of a developing-world community will come alive as you journey from hardship to hope in this free, immersive tour that introduces you and your family to the daily realities of a child in extreme poverty.

Each guest is equipped with an iPod Touch and headphones to guide them through the experience, which includes more than 2,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space.

The four-day event will be hosted by Shandon Baptist Church at 5250 Forest Drive in Columbia from March 16-19. There, visitors will be invited on a self-guided journey where they will be immersed in the lives and stories of three children living in the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Uganda. Each child's story starts in hardship but ends in hope.

The experience includes features replicas of the homes and environments of these two Compassion beneficiaries. The event is free and family-friendly.

"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 World Bank estimates that 700 million (9.6 percent of the global population) live on less than $1.90 a day (USD). In the areas Compassion serves, nearly one in five children die before the age of five, mostly from preventable causes, and 124 million children worldwide do not attend school according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

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 1.8 million children in 25 of the world's most impoverished countries.

The Columbia to Colombia Compassion Experience is going on right now through Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The event is in the parking lot of Shandon Baptist Church which is at 5250 Forest Drive in Columbia.  It is free to attend.  You can register at

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