Don’t Fix Poverty, Just Help a Child

Do you feel like poverty is an issue that’s too big to fix? Are you overwhelmed by the number of people living in poverty in this world?

More than 1.2 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line, according to The World Bank. That means they live on less than US $1.25/day.

Feeling helpless in the face of such a large number is understandable, but don’t let that prevent you from sponsoring a child.

For only $38/month, you can change the life of a child. Your sponsorship money will provide that child with nutritious snacks and meals, educational opportunities, health and hygiene training, medical checkups, the support of a local church staffed by caring adults, and the message of God’s love through Jesus Christ.

By becoming a sponsor, you also have the unique opportunity to mentor a child through letters, filling him with love, hope and encouragement.

Johnny Carr, author of “Orphan Justice,” says, “Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?”

Are you investing yourself or are you giving up in defeat?

In Matthew 26:11, Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

It’s true the poor will always be here, and it’s true that you can’t “fix” poverty, but you can make a difference in a child’s life.

You can make a difference in Cristian’s life by clicking here. Cristian is 6 and lives with his parents and one sibling in Colombia. He has been waiting 241 days for a sponsor.

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Cristian, 6, of Colombia

You can make a difference in Maria’s life by clicking here. Maria is 9 years old and lives with her parents and five siblings in the Dominican Republic. She has been waiting 213 days for a sponsor.

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Maria, 9, of the Dominican Republic

There are 3,249 children on Compassion’s web site today who are waiting for sponsors. You can view them by clicking here. Please consider helping one of these children.

Hope

Hope is a powerful gift, and it is a gift you can give by sponsoring a child.

Without hope, a child growing up in poverty faces many challenges. Staying in school is unlikely as day-to-day survival takes priority. Nutritious meals and medical care are rare, and even the ability to dream of a better future may become difficult.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion, that child receives medical and dental check-ups, spiritual and educational training, meals, and best of all, hope.

If you’re wondering how hope can be lumped in with those other life essentials, take a look at recent research, which shows that sponsored children fare much better in life than their non-sponsored peers.

A study published in the April issue of Journal of Political Economy and led by Dr. Bruce Wydick, a professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, shows stark differences between sponsored and non-sponsored children. 

Former Compassion-sponsored children were found to stay in school 1 to 1.5 years longer than their non-sponsored peers. In Uganda, that average was even longer at 2.4 years. 

They were 13.3 percent more likely to finish primary school, 27 to 40 percent more likely to finish secondary school, and 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education than non-sponsored children. 

Those are just the study’s findings regarding education. Employment and leadership also were affected greatly by sponsorship. 

As adults, former Compassion-sponsored children were 14 to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment and 35 percent more likely to work a white-collar job than their non-sponsored peers. They also were found more likely to become community leaders, church leaders and teachers. 

This is all statistical proof that the hope child sponsorship provides is changing lives. But how about some personal proof? I receive letters from my precious sponsored children sharing goals for their future, career aspirations, and sometimes, just simple requests of prayer to pass to the next grade in school. 

Here are just a few examples: 

“I want to go to university to graduate as a telecommunications engineer.” – recent secondary school graduate Favian, 19, Guatemala

“I want to finish elementary and high school and become a professional.” – Luis, 7 Colombia 

“When I grow up, I would like to be a cop.” – Winston, 11, Guatemala

“My dream for the future is to be a doctor.” – Esteban, 7, Nicaragua

“I would like to become a lawyer.” – Wagner, 16, Guatemala 

Imagine how these children’s lives have been changed by sponsorship that they are dreaming of careers. 

Please consider giving hope to a child in need. You can sponsor a child today by clicking here.

 

When One Door Closes

Last week, I received the phone call that no sponsor wants to receive. It was Compassion calling to tell me that my sweet Roxana from Guatemala has left the program.

This is the same child about whom I posted earlier on this blog after receiving a particularly sweet letter from her. She wrote that she dreams about playing ball with me, and she hopes to see me someday. She also let me know that she keeps the photos I’ve sent to her in a frame next to her bed.

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Roxana, 9, Guatemala

I’ve sponsored her since April 2011, when she had just turned 7.

The Compassion representative who called me said Roxana’s parents pulled her out of the program.

There could be any number of reasons for a parent to take their child out of Compassion. Moving to another area or some other change in the family’s situation could be the reason, though it’s best not to speculate because then my imagination will go wild and only cause me to worry. Instead, I must respect the parents’ choice and trust in God’s plan.

Of course, that’s not exactly easy to do.

Fortunately, my 8-year-old daughter Ryan was able to push things along. She, too, was sad to lose Roxana, but she was ready to start scouring the Compassion web site that same day to sponsor a new little girl.

I set Ryan up at the computer, and searched for girls in Guatemala around the same age as Roxana, and my daughter quickly narrowed it down to one little girl. I told her I wanted to think about it, but the next day, she was back to campaigning for her chosen girl.

She was fairly relentless. Ryan enjoys writing, drawing pictures and making cards for the girls we sponsor, and she wasn’t going to let me mope about Roxana much longer. And she did pick a very cute little girl, so I sponsored my daughter’s choice, Hania, 7, of Guatemala.

I emailed Compassion later that day to request an emailed digital copy of Hania’s photo on file, and found out I am her first sponsor. I also found out this little cutie had been waiting for a sponsor since she registered with Compassion back in September of 2012.

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Hania, 7, Guatemala

How can it be that almost a year has passed that no one decided to sponsor this little girl?

I immediately sent her an email with photos using Compassion’s online letter-writing tool, and my daughter got to work making cards and drawings for her new friend.

Later that night, Ryan came downstairs at bedtime to show me the photo of Roxana she keeps on her dresser. She leaned in my ear and whispered, “I prayed for Roxana.”

The door may have closed on that special relationship with Roxana, but I am comforted knowing that I’m not alone in continuing to pray for her.

And now we open the door to our newest sponsorship. Welcome to our family, Hania.

Sponsor a Child

As an advocate for Compassion International, I have two children for whom I am currently looking for sponsors. Sponsorship costs $38/month, but the relationship you will build with your child will change your life.

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Jose, 6, Nicaragua

Jose, 6, of Nicaragua, lives with his mother, who is employed as a laborer. His home duties are caring for children, making beds and running errands. There are three children in Jose’s family.

Jose is performing above average in Kindergarten, and his favorite activities are playing a musical instrument, basketball and playing with cars. His birthday is September 10.

He lives in an area in Nicaragua where the average monthly income is $97. Jose’s community has electricity and water, but needs vocational training centers and employment opportunities.

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Jade, 7, Nicaragua

Jade, 7, also lives in Nicaragua. She lives with both parents, who both are sometimes employed as laborers. There are two children in the family. Her home duty is running errands.

Jade attends primary school, where her performance is average, and she enjoys playing with dolls and running.

She lives in an area where the average monthly income is $120. Like Jose’s community, Jade’s also has electricity and water, but needs vocational training centers and employment opportunities.

Your sponsorship would provide these children with Bibles, Bible classes, medical checkups, de-worming, vaccinations, nutritious food, tutoring, sports and special celebrations.

I personally sponsor two boys from Nicaragua, who in the same age range as Jose and Jade, and they are incredibly sweet and loving. I always look forward to their letters!

Gift-Giving Impacts Families

What can you do with $100? Pay your cable bill? Take your family out for a nice meal? Buy a new outfit?

I’m sure you can think of many ways to spend $100, but what do you have left when that money is gone? Is it anything that made a lasting impact on your life? More important, is it anything that made a lasting impact on someone else’s life?

Take a look at what you can do for someone else with $100.

Roxana from Guatemala was able to purchase groceries and clothing.

Esteban from Nicaragua, who lives with three young brothers and their single mom, was able to purchase a stovetop with two burners.

Paula from Colombia purchased food for her family.

Zainabu from Ghana purchased items that her mother could use to make food to sell at the market.

Compassion allows sponsors to bless their children with monetary gifts above and beyond sponsorship. These can be birthday gifts, family gifts or even general gifts. The gifts can range anywhere from $10 to $1,000, and one hundred percent of the gift goes to the child, with no money taken out for administrative costs. Compassion restricts the amount of money you can send to your child in order to avoid creating dependence in the child’s family or jealousy within the community.

When you send a monetary gift to your child, it is changed into the child’s local currency and transferred to the Compassion office in his country. A Compassion representative then meets with the child and his family to decide what items are most needed before going to purchase the items.

It can take up to two months for this process to take place, but when the gift money is spent, the child will write a letter to you detailing the items purchased. Sometimes, depending on the resources available in your child’s center, you will receive a photo of your child with the gift, too.

These gifts can help your child’s family tremendously. The average income in the communities of the children pictured above varies from $42/month (Ghana) to $147/month (Colombia), so giving a monetary gift is a great opportunity to help your sponsored child.

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17

Learning Compassion

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Ryan with photo of Paula.

As the holidays approach each year, I am often dismayed by my children’s greed. Wish lists and letters to Santa fill up pages with wants and more wants.

At our house, the lists look something like this: video games, iPods, LOTS of Barbies, and on and on and on. Somehow even “gift cards” pops up on those lists, just in case the wants aren’t satisfied.

Even Charlie Brown laments the commercialism that often overshadows Christmas in his famous holiday show.

I’ve noticed this consumerism in the kids doesn’t only manifest at Christmas, though, so this year, I wanted to find a way to chip away at the entitlement that seems to be coursing through the veins of “kids these days.”

I know, I know, every generation’s parents think their kids are spoiled and don’t appreciate what they have, and I’m sure a lot of that goes along with being a child. I’m sure everyone from my generation heard the famous “kids are starving in Africa” line at dinner, just as our parents heard about the kids starving in China.

So like any good parent, I told the “when I was your age” stories and the “walking to school in the snow uphill both ways” tales. But words never seem to bring home the point like actions do.

While I wasn’t willing to send my children on uphill marches through the snow to prove my point that they actually have it pretty good, I was ready to find something that would have more meaning in their lives.

In September, while reading one of my favorite blogs, the writer took a trip to Guatemala with other bloggers. The trip was sponsored by Compassion International, a charity whose motto is “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”

The bloggers spent a few days touring Compassion-run projects around the country and writing about their experiences. I was deeply moved by the stories and photographs that resulted from this trip, so I started researching Compassion. In just a few days, I’d made the decision to sponsor a child.

I couldn’t believe how many children there were on the web site or how specific I could get in my search. I could narrow it down by region, country, age, disability, orphan, HIV/AIDS affected, gender and even birth date.

Finally I chose a 10-year-old boy from Guatemala named Anderson. I showed his photo to my children and explained sponsorship. I wasn’t sure what their interest levels would be, but am happy to report that it went over quite well.

They had all kinds of questions about Anderson: where did he live, what was his house like, what did he eat, what was he like. I read them the brief biography from the web site and told them the only way to find out more was to start writing to him.

Then each of my three oldest boys sat down and wrote a letter to this boy in Guatemala. A boy they’d never met, but had already piqued their interest. My 9-year-old even sent him some baseball cards from his own collection.

We have sponsored a few more children since then, including a 5-year-old girl from Colombia, hand-picked by my own 5-year-old daughter. I was thrilled to witness my daughter’s thoughtfulness when she picked out stickers from her own stash to send to a little girl she has never met.

In three short months, these sponsorships have impacted our family in many small ways. They’ve made us more conscious of how we spend our money and more thankful for our blessings, to put it mildly.

They also have provided many teachable moments, like when my daughter wanted me to make a video of her doing a ballet dance to send to our Colombian girl.

I said, “Honey, she doesn’t have a TV.” That reminded me that what may seem obvious to us adults isn’t always so clear to the kids. Her look was one of disbelief, then horror, as she empathized for a moment with this little girl who lives without a television.

Do I dare tell her this little girl likely lives without a lot more than television? Do I tell her that thanks to our meager contribution, she gets a couple of meals a week, some tutoring, some healthcare and spiritual guidance?

That hardly seems like enough to me, and I’m sure the unfairness of it will be too much for my Kindergartener to grasp. It’s too much for me to grasp.

“She doesn’t have a TV,” I repeated, “so why don’t you draw her a picture of yourself doing ballet instead?”

As she bounced off happily to draw her picture, I thought, there will be plenty of time for her to understand the reality of the situation.

For now, she can do what she can, which is caring about somebody else.

(This story was written by Kerri and posted in December 2010 on another web site, http://www.parentingfortherestofus.com, a blog about parenting with several contributing writers).