Grow Your Know – July 2015
Understanding Child Sponsorship
by Suzanne Dubois
If you search the web you will find an array of opinions about child sponsorship—they’re good, they’re bad, they’re only part of a bigger solution. So, what do we make of this? Should we participate in child sponsor programs or not?
It’s impossible to make a decision without first understanding the program because programs can vary from organization to organization—much like the children who benefit from them!
I can’t speak for all organizations, but I can speak for Global Hope. Following is a short Q&A to help answer some questions about Global Hope’s child sponsor program called the Godparent Program.
Q: Does the program create dependency issues instead of teaching self-sufficiency?
A: No, but this is an ongoing concern for Global Hope and something that the Field Director continually monitors. Global Hope does two things to safeguard against this:
1. With our partners, we spur them on to find alternate sources of income and when appropriate we invest in training that helps them become more self-sufficient.
2. With the children, we put more emphasis on the spiritual element of the Godparent program—letting them know there are people who want to see them grow into successful Christian adults and who are praying specifically for them. We downplay the financial aspect, sharing those details with our partner, not with the children directly.
Q: Are there children who end up being singled out because they don’t have a Godparent? Are the children who get sponsored the only ones who receive help and care?
A: No. All of the children in our program, whether they are in Romania, India or Kenya, receive full funding for their care. (There is one exception which will be explained at the end.) In other words, Global Hope will pay for the support of a child even if that child does not have a sponsor. These funds come out of general funds. The more sponsors Global Hope has though, the more those general funds can be applied to new programing, non-budgeted items that come up (like field trips) or a household item that goes belly-up (like a stove), and an ability to take more children into the program. (The exception is Spring Valley School. We provide them only with funding that is received through sponsorships since they partner with multiple organizations to help cover expenses.)
Q: Is there any long lasting benefit to sponsoring a child?
A: Yes! Every child should grow up in a healthy, stable environment that is as much like a loving family as possible and so Global Hope’s primary investment is in the long-term care of a child. Without champions who invest in the lives of these children we couldn’t fund this work. The added benefit of a sponsor who gives through the Godparent program is that a real connection is made between child and Godparent. While we do not promise regular letter exchanges (this is not a pen pal program), the children tell us that they are comforted knowing someone else knows them by name and is praying for them. They cherish letters they get from a Godparent and it conveys the bigness of God’s kingdom to them—we are all sisters and brothers in Christ no matter our race, language or age!
These are just a few questions that come up occasionally. If you have a different question, don’t hesitate to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, let me share a great resource that studied the benefits of child sponsorship. It comes out of the University of San Francisco and looked at Compassion’s sponsorship program in six developing countries (India and Kenya being two of them). Read more about the study here.
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