If you were to spend any amount of time with me, you would quickly see that I’m passionate about a number of social justice issues plaguing our world today. But one of the first things that drew my heart, even as a teenager, was the needs of children around the world.
I vividly remember traveling to Brazil with my dad when I was a young teen. There, my sister and I met a little boy who had been living on the streets, and my heart broke for him. Of course, I hate to see anyone suffering; but the impact poverty has on children feels especially brutal. Since that day, it has moved me to action. I watched as that little boy grew up to become a man, receive an education, help other children, and even start a family of his own — all because someone cared.
That is why I am so passionate about things like child sponsorship. In a world full of causes begging for your attention, child sponsorship can sometimes be overlooked. It’s usually a monthly gift, and for some people that can feel like too much. Others are skeptical, believing their money will never actually make it to their child or it won’t actually make a difference.
But after decades of working with sponsored kids, watching them grow up and become empowered, successful adults, and sponsoring several children myself, I can tell you — it works.
Here are seven myths people believe about child sponsorship:
- It’s an outdated method
Just because something has been around for a while, doesn’t mean it’s outdated. Child sponsorship is still around because it has been proven to work. It is a sustainable method that invests in a local community, one child at a time — meaning the impact you have today will continue to be felt for years to come.
- I’m not really helping a real child
Although I cannot speak for every organization, I can say that in most cases, this is simply not true. When you receive information about a child, that child is very real and very much in need of your specific help … that child knows who you are! Some organizations, including ours, even offer you the chance to travel and meet your sponsored child in person!
- I won’t ever get the chance to connect with my sponsored child
Organizations like World Help go out of their way to make sure that you have the tools you need to connect with your sponsored child. Building a relationship, particularly in a cross-cultural setting, can take time. But by consistently writing letters and sharing about yourself, you and your sponsored child will be able to create a bond of friendship and trust.
Set your expectations realistically — it may take weeks for your letter to travel overseas, be delivered to a remote village, and be translated into your child’s language, so you won’t be receiving a reply every other day. And depending on the age of the child, he or she may not yet know how to write. They may choose to draw a picture instead. But you can be sure that your child cherishes your letters and looks forward to responding. I’ve visited the homes of countless sponsored kids and seen cards from their sponsors proudly displayed among their most prized possessions.
- My money goes straight to the child’s family
In order to best serve the child, the money is typically distributed through local partners in the country. This ensures that your dollars are going toward essentials that the child needs and investing in his or her future instead of being used in other ways that you may not be aware of. It also empowers local teachers or community leaders to build relationships with the children, furthering the sustainability and maximizing community impact.
- My investment isn’t really addressing the problem
As a child sponsor, you will be addressing some of the most pressing problems. Most sponsorship programs allow you to provide access to educational opportunities, nutritious meals, and medical care. In poor communities, families can barely afford to put food on the table, much less pay for an education. Your commitment will help keep a child alive and give him the tools he needs for the future.
- Sponsorship creates dependency
Just the opposite. When children receive an education, they are empowered to pursue a career as a teacher, a doctor, or whatever they wish to be — allowing them to break out of the cycle of poverty that has entrapped their families for so long. You give a child access to the things he needs to one day provide for himself and give back to his community.
- With so many people in the world, how can sponsoring one child really make a difference?
I can promise you this, it will make all the difference to that one child, and that matters. We spend so much time trying to maximize our impact that we forget that impacting one life is better than impacting none at all. And the great thing is, when you invest in a child, your impact grows with the child. We have seen so many sponsored children grow up to become teachers, offering education to children from the same neighborhoods they grew up in. Sponsorship breaks the cycle of poverty and starts a new one — a cycle of hope.
Noel Yeatts is an active advocate for social justice and humanitarian needs around the world. With over 20 years of experience in humanitarian work, Noel is an author, speaker, and the President of World Help, an international, Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished communities around the world. Noel regularly takes the stage for speaking engagements and advocacy events around the country and has been widely recognized for her groundbreaking book, "Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time." To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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