Wednesday, August 8, 2012
How does one fathom the needs of children in countries across the world one has never visited?
Signal Mountain resident Andrea Phelps has been working for more than a year on “The Compassion Exerience: Change the Story,” a traveling exhibit intended to give attendees the experience of growing up in a Third World country through the eyes of three children from India, Bolivia and Uganda.
Phelps, creative director of the project for Central City, Ky.-based Brewco Marketing Group, said the exhibit will help spread the message of Christian organization Compassion International throughout the United States.
“[Compassion International] helps sponsor kids who live in extreme poverty,” she said of the organization, which provides support in the form of nutrition, medical assistance, spiritual teaching and encouragement to 1.3 million children worldwide through church partnerships. “They take kids only and teach them so they change the community.”
Referred to as an “interactive immersive display,” the exhibit was built inside two semitrailers transformed into a 3,500-square-foot recreational vehicle that travels the country.
“We built three stories of kids from the time they are toddlers to now, with an audio tour of how Compassion International changed their life and where they are now,” said Phelps of the display, which attempts to recreate as closely as possible environments of extreme poverty.
Two videographers traveled to Uganda, Bolivia and India to gather detailed information about the lives of the children whose stories are shared through the display, conducting interviews and taking video footage in their homes and communities.
As exhibit attendees enter the trailer, they walk into a 6-by-6-foot room that is an identical replica of the one where Ruben, one of the three children whose stories are featured, grew up, said Phelps.
“It gives people who have never been out of the country an eye-opening experience,” she said. “If you can’t go on a mission trip this is the next best thing.”
Phelps said she has never been on a mission trip, but she does sponsor a child through Compassion International for $38 a month. According to the organization’s website, 100,000 children are currently waiting for a sponsorship through Compassion International.
“The ultimate goal [of the Compassion Experience] is to find all these kids a sponsor,” said Phelps. “We hope this is so successful and so many kids get sponsored we can do another.”
She said what she found most surprising in the year she conducted her research was her own wealth in comparison to others around the world, as well as how well the exhibit came together.
“I know [now] if you’re doing something for the right cause it will turn out the way you want it to,” she said.