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Sponsering children in developing countries

(12 Posts)
sassyminder Wed 21-Sep-11 12:28:16

I've just seen an ad on the tv about children sponsoring, and I am just wondering if anyone here do it..? I just want to find out which charities are doing an honest serious work, so I can become a sponsor and be sure the money is spent right.

Solopower Wed 21-Sep-11 18:35:48

We sponsored a child in Vietnam with Plan. The reason I went in for it was partly to help, but also to learn about the situation, and mainly to establish a link between my own child and the sponsored one. As well as a small monthly donation, it was suggested that we send small presents once or twice a year, and the child wrote back and told us about his life.

To my shame, however, after a few years, we backed out. My son got fed up with the commitment involved, and so did I - we just found it difficult to make the time even for such a small thing as a letter and present twice a year.

I'm very ashamed, and it left me feeling guilty, so I wouldn't do it again. However, if you are prepared to keep it up, and/or you have a child who likes writing letters - and will continue to like it (as far as you can guess) - and is interested in people's lives in other countries, I would recommend it. We have kept our sponsored child's letters.

On the whole, though, I think I prefer to donate in other ways and allow the organisation to do what it feels is best with the money. One thing that I did wonder about was whether the child was actually allowed to keep the gifts we sent, and whether his friends were jealous of him - or, even worse - whether he was humiliated by being singled out for 'charity'. I know that if my son had been in his position, he would have hated it, and would have far preferred for the whole village to benefit from the donations.

I like the idea of donating football kit and boots to teams in developing countries, and also school books to schools and libraries. What would be a good idea imo would be to do is contact the Children's Village in Ghana (or anywhere, really), and get the school to raise money etc.

octopusinabox Fri 23-Sep-11 10:30:49

I did this for years with World Vision. I'm not religous but at the time I did this they seemed to be the only charity doing this so went with them. I'd probably go with Plan these days - only because WV is Christian although I will say that they don't push the religion. They'd send yearly reports on the project you were contributing to and you'd occasionally get a card or letter from the child and I'd send one back with a small pressie.

Carrotsandcelery Fri 23-Sep-11 10:35:49

A friend of mine used to live and work in a very difficult area of Africa (I forget where exactly) and she always advised sponsoring a village rather than one specific child.

She saw the impact of sponsoring first hand through her work and her dh's work and felt that sponsoring one child caused division withing the community, whereas sponsoring the whole village brought them all together to work together as a community and was more productive in the long run.

Obviously not many of us can offer enough to keep a whole village ticking over but your contribution, grouped with others doing the same, can make an enormous difference to people and be completely life saving.

All that said, sponsoring a specific child is still a million times better than sitting back in apathy and doing absolutely nothing.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 23-Sep-11 10:40:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

octopusinabox Fri 23-Sep-11 10:44:36

"she always advised sponsoring a village rather than one specific child."

With mine, although I was sponsoring a child the money was going to the village not the child itself or even on the child's education as was shown by the yearly reports (the money was spent on infrastructure/clean water pumps etc). The individual link seemed to be more about who got to write the letters rather than I was giving money directly to the child/family. I assumed that was how they all worked. So if say, only one child is sponsored in a village does that mean that one child gets to use the money just to themselves and all the others just get to look on?
<have no idea how all this works in practice>

Carrotsandcelery Fri 23-Sep-11 11:14:48

octopus the sort of sponsoring you are doing sounds, to me, like it is the sort that is helpful to the whole community.

I am no expert but I got the impression that when it was one child then there were other children "next door" in desperate poverty, while the sponsored child walked off to school. It is not that the sponsored child is living in luxury or decadently, and you can't help everyone, but something that helps a bigger group and encourages that group to work together, has to be more helpful in the long run surely.

RunnerHasbeen Fri 23-Sep-11 11:21:52

The yearly reports I get from Plan suggest that most of my donation goes to the community (although is a small village) in building the school, water pumps etc. I'm pretty sure she keeps the gifts I send as if it is clothing she is often wearing it in the photos - which I know is a trick we all play with something awful from granny - but her little brother was in the background recently in a hand-me-down I sent years ago. Quite a lot of my gifts are school based, so if they are shared around, I don't really mind. I get the impression that her village is more of a community than we are used to, so if they were doing well through sponsorship they would share it out more. I know someone who visited their sponsored child and didn't find anything untoward either. I went with Plan as they are non-religious.

Lessthanaballpark Fri 23-Sep-11 11:54:31

I sponsor a little girl in China through the Plan UK ("Because I'm a girl" campaign) and I used to sponsor a little boy in Ecuador. They have always been very good wrt updates, newsletters, letting you know how your money is being spent so I would recommend them.

The money you send, like Runner says, works to improve life for the entire community, which is why I chose it. They've recently sent a letter though saying that we shouldn't send presents to our individual children because it was creating tension between those children whose sponsors send gifts and those who don't. But you can still send gifts at Xmas / birthdays I think. Also there is a facility where you can write a letter online and Plan will print it out and send it on, if you are as lazy as me about posting things!

wahwahwah Fri 23-Sep-11 12:11:49

SOS children's villagers are very good.

They are non-political and non-religious so the benefit there is that they help all children in need and don't get kicked out of countries where there is war or political unrest as they bare not seen as 'taking sides' or trying to interfere. We sponsor a child through this - they have homes worldwide.

Homes are set up in the community and run as a 'family' where the children have a house 'mother' and a encouraged to see each other as siblings. When they are 16 they leave the home and have been given skills and training to set up their own homes and encouraged to work or set up their own business. It really is very 'lump in thread' when they send through letters about how the child is getting on.

All the uk staff are volunteers, so most of the money goes to the children. Only 20 a month can make such a difference to a child. Like some of the others, they ask that don't send individual presents (maybe a card on their birthday) but say that money could be donated to the whole home to buy treats for all the children and they set up a bank account for the child to gain access to when they leave and you can pop money into that for them.

The boy we sponsor was found by the roadside when he was only a couple of months old. The parents couldn't be traced so he ended up in the local SOS home. It is also surprising to see that they homes in Europe and north america - it really is wherever children a neglected and in need.

wahwahwah Fri 23-Sep-11 12:13:29

Apologise for all the spelling mistakes - new I-pad!!!!

Jinx1906 Fri 14-Oct-11 22:51:21

We sponser a child with worldvision. I have to fess up that I have never written to the child, I leave it to my children to respond to the letters. Good we only get 2 a year. It is nice to know where the money is going though.

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