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What does extreme poverty look like?

Last month, an exhibit in Afton gave visitors a glimpse into the lives of children living in extreme poverty in the developing world.

From Aug. 19-22, Shepherd of the Valley Church hosted nonprofit organization Compassion International's Mobile Experience trailer, a traveling 2,000-square-foot interactive space where visitors immersed themselves in the lives of a Bolivian boy and a Ugandan girl who've overcome the crippling obstacle of living in extreme poverty.

With an iPod in hand, visitors squeezed into small rooms observing scenes of daily life in children's homes, schools and markets while listening to a child's narration of his or her challenges through a headset.

In one exhibit, a Bolivian boy named Rubén tells a story about leaving his violent and alcoholic father with his mother.

He eventually enrolls in school after receiving a sponsorship through Compassion International and is currently in university studying to become an architect.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Bolivia is the poorest country in South America.

Clark Duffy, a local volunteer and child poverty advocate, said the purpose of the exhibit is to help people see what life is like in some of the world's poorest countries.

"It's a different way of communicating what some people go through," he said.

Duffy's traveled to a number of developing countries through his church and other organizations and said the exhibit does an accurate job of capturing how people in those countries live in small, close-quartered homes with very little privacy.

"It's how people live," he said. "Yet they have a certain amount of dignity and pride."

Sharon Mott of Maplewood brought her two kids Isaac and Zoe to the free exhibit last Sunday, and said she felt it was important for her kids to gain perspective on how children around their age live in other parts of the world.

"I think it's good for kids to see that we have so much here," Mott said. "It was a good learning experience."

Though her family hasn't traveled outside of the country, Mott said she hopes to bring her kids along on a missions trip in the future.

The exhibit also aims to sponsor kids abroad through a $38 monthly donations after visitor's complete their self-guided tour.

Compassion International organizers said about 2,000 people went through the exhibit last weekend, and about 10 percent of them sponsored a child.

The mobile exhibit will pack up from Afton and will be in suburban Milwaukee next weekend.

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