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Compassion Joins Forces to Combat Poverty in Uganda

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., October 12, 2006 – Compassion International and Opportunity International today announced a new joint effort to attack the economic burdens of the poor in Uganda.

Compassion Uganda currently serves nearly 42,000 children-many who are cared for by family, neighbors or church members who lack the financial means to adequately provide for them. Compassion International and Opportunity International, a leading global provider of microfinance services to the poor, plan to change this reality by offering qualified caregivers a chance to receive loans and lines of credit that they can use to start up their own businesses, such as a small grocery, farming or handicrafts business.

Under the new joint project, Compassion International will fund loans totaling $180,000 through the Uganda for Development Agency (UGAFODE), a Christian micro business organization that has been a member of Opportunity International Network for the past 12 years working in 15 districts of Uganda. The new program will provide loans to 1,000 families in Bushenyi and Rukundiri districts. Opportunity International provided $3.5 million in loans to 12,817 poor entrepreneurs in Uganda in 2005.

“We’re delighted to partner with Opportunity International in this new program in Uganda,” says Dr. Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion International. “Compassion International and Opportunity International work in related facets of poverty and share the same commitment to empower the poor by treating them with dignity and respect.”

“We’re pleased that with this generous gift from Compassion International we will be able to expand and grow our much needed microfinance services to more poor families in Uganda. This is truly a gift that keeps on giving, because as these loans are repaid, the money will be used again and again to help thousands more poor families work their way out of poverty,” said Chris Crane, President and CEO of Opportunity International.

A good example of the impact of a single loan is a current client, Jennifer Mwesigye of Sanda, Uganda. With a small clothing business and one sewing machine, she faced tremendous difficulty providing for her seven children. But with a loan from Opportunity International she was able to grow her business and diversify. Today, Jennifer has a sewing business, owns 50 cows, three rental apartments and a motorcycle-taxi business which combined, support 57 employees and family members. She has become a community leader and routinely mentors other local entrepreneurs.

Compassion has many similar success stories through direct investment in the lives of children. One example is Daniel Obrero from the Philippines, who, after graduating in 1996 from Compassion’s child development program, was selected as one of the 42 students from his country to attend college in his own nation through Compassion’s Leadership Development Program. Daniel not only graduated as valedictorian from the program in 2000 with a degree in education, but opened his own child development project, where he teaches and ministers to more than 180 children.

About Compassion International

Compassion is one of the world's largest Christian child-development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and nearly 4,000 indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since its founding in 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than 1.6 million children and has been recognized for its financial integrity with top ratings and recommendations by several of the nation’s leading not-for-profit “watchdog” organizations. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion online at www.compassion.com or by calling (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., MST.

About Opportunity International

Opportunity International provides access to savings, small business loans, insurance and training to over five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit http://www.opportunity.org or join the conversation at http://facebook.com/opportunityintl and http://twitter.com/opportunityintl.

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