Sponsor a Child – How and why?
It’s wonderful, at last, to see accelerating rates of economic growth in Africa and other under- developed regions of the world. It means that tens of millions of people are being lifted out of poverty by their own efforts. However, the war on want is by no means won especially where young children are concerned with one in five children in the poorest countries still not living to see their fifth birthday.
Experience has shown that child sponsorship not only remains one of the most effective weapons in tackling child poverty but is also one of the most fulfilling avenues for donors. The concept of child sponsorship traces its roots to the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s when two Britons, journalist John Langdon-Davies and aid worker, Eric Muggeridge, were so moved by the plight of orphaned young Spaniards that they formed a charity which was originally called “ Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain “.
Initially, donors were asked to give a shilling a day to provide food and shelter to an individual child and to show that someone cared by writing regular letters. This was the cradle of child sponsorship as we know it today and the charity itself went on to help thousands of displaced children during and immediately after the Second World War. To reflect the fact that it was now operating in several different countries, it changed its name to Plan International.
Today, Plan organizes child sponsorship in over 50 of the World’s poorest countries. It is fortunate to have over 1 million individual sponsors in 20 wealthier nations.
Sponsorship itself has steadily evolved into quite a sophisticated model so that the highly personal elements remain but the financial effort is targeted in ways which experience has shown to work the most effectively. Each of Plan’s sponsors, for example, receive regular letters and photos from the child that is sponsored together with reports showing exactly how funds are being deployed to maximum effect. They also have the opportunity to travel out, visit the child and see at first hand the improvements that have taken place.
The one common misconception amongst those wanting to sponsor a child is that sponsorship funds are paid directly to the child or his / her family where they may be at risk of being dissipated. In fact, experience clearly shows that it is much more effective to pool individual donations in order to create really worthwhile community projects which the children themselves have a hand in planning. These might be some form of educational facility or something essential like a well to make drinking water more accessible.
Find out more about how you can help children in developing countries.