5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

Margaret —  May 20, 2013 — 25 Comments

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As we’ve spent the week in Kenya, I’ve had the privilege of getting a close up look at the work of Compassion. I can literally walk into any project, point at any kid, and ask to see their file—a thick, 3-ring binder filled with monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports on the child’s health, academic progress, spiritual growth, goals for life, and observations/needs from home visits.

I’ve been given free reign to ask anything, which is dangerous for someone like me, because I’m unafraid to ask any and every question. What is haunting me from this week is that I’ve gotten a glimpse into things your sponsored child simply can’t tell you: [Tweet this]1. I am among the poorest of the poor. What we’ve seen throughout the week is that while Compassion can serve 300 kids within a single program, there are hundreds, even thousands who dream of being accepted. In a project we visited this week, 600 kids applied for 20 spots.

How do the project directors decide? They look for the most desperate, dire situations. They go into the schools, neighborhoods, and local communities to find the children who are orphaned, who are being raised by single mothers or grandmothers, who sleep on dirt floors, who are hungry and live with food insecurity.

5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

Your sponsored child can’t tell you that he or she is the poorest of the poor, the most needy in the slum or area, but know that’s your child.

2. Those Christmas, birthday, and family gifts are changing my life. Before I came on this trip, I always saw the option on my sponsorship form to give a Christmas, birthday, or family gift as something nice to do, a way to give something extra. I had no idea the impact those gifts make before I saw it first hand in the 3-ring binders.

I saw the receipts from how those gifts are spent. A pair of shoes. A pair of pants. Shoes. Socks. A jacket—the only jacket that kid has ever owned. A kilogram of flour or sugar. A bowl and dried fish for a start up business for a parent. Sheets of metal roofing so the home can finally have a non-leaky roof and a way to catch clean drinking water.

Those gifts are likely the only source of your child getting new shoes or a new shirt this year. But when your child grows out of them, they’re passed on to to younger siblings. The food that’s given is shared by the entire family. The small businesses—whether a goat that produces milk or a bag with dirt and seeds that produces vegetables—provide income for the entire family to eat, visit the hospital, and survive.

When you see that option to give a little extra, know that it’s making a bigger difference than you can imagine. [Tweet this]

3. Your support isn’t just changing my life but the lives of my brothers, sisters, and parents/guardians. In order to have the widest possible impact in disrupting poverty, Compassion’s typical policy is that only one child per home can be in the program. At first I thought this policy seemed cold-hearted, but as I spent time in the communities I began to see how much greater of an impact having one child in the program makes.

I asked a group of more than two dozen older students in a Compassion project if their admittance stirred jealousy or resentment from siblings. They unanimously said “no.” Instead, their brothers and sisters were grateful.

5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

The support Compassion provided for them freed up more resources. There were meals that didn’t have to be divided as many ways, clothes passed down, birthday and Christmas gifts that were shared. But it wasn’t just the physical goods, but the education and knowledge. Kids in the Compassion project often come home and teach their parents, guardians, and siblings what they just learned about sanitation, hygiene, social skills, and more. Entire families are being affected by your sponsorship.

4. Your letters mean more than you can know. One of the many things that make Compassion unique is their emphasis on the sponsor/child relationship through letter writing. You may not think that letter makes a difference, but often the students save your letters for many years.

I asked one of the older students what makes a good letter. He advised the following:

  • Respond quickly so the conversation can progress
  • Share what you’re learning and experiencing in your life and about God (don’t just talk about the weather)
  • Tell them about your work, what you do, and what you like about it
  • Offer words of encouragement in their education and spiritual growth

If you haven’t written your child recently, jump online and email a letter on the Compassion site today.

5. A visit from you just might change my life forever. Compassion makes it possible for you to visit your sponsored child anywhere in the world (as long as you cover expenses).

Meeting my child was an incredible joy and made sponsoring her so much more than just making a donation. I looked in the eyes of the life that is being changed. We tossed a ball, blew bubbles, shared lunch, and laughed together. But a hundred-plus eyes were watching, seeing for the first time what a sponsor looked like, knowing that you and I are real and representing God’s love to them.

5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

So it’s worth saving for the trip of a lifetime to meet your kid. I have no doubt meeting your child and their family will not only change their life, but yours as well as you get to see the impact your support is making.

Will you join me and sponsor a kid today? [Tweet this] For only $38 a month, you can make the difference in a child’s life forever. Click here to meet some amazing Kenyan kids (some of whom I met this week) who are waiting for you to sponsor them.

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25 responses to 5 Things Your Sponsored Child Can Never Tell You

  1. I am glad you wrote this post and I am glad you are in S.Africa. I am a pastor and a volunteer with Children’s Hope Chest (very similar to Compassion International, but smaller). We take people from my church and other churches to visit sponsored kids in Ethiopia. We go every year. I affirm that you’ve written here. Keep up the good work.

  2. Great article! Help a child, change a community. I have a Compassion child in Peru whom I love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. There is no greater joy than visiting in the homes of the children you sponsor. I’ve had the privilege to travel with our church on mission trips to Port-de-Paix, Haiti, where I and my elementary students at the church sponsor two students from Sonlight Academy. We always send clothes, shoes, and other treats to them and make cards for them. It’s an awesome time meeting their families! :) They are so sincere, and appreciative. We always take lots of photos and I can share them with the kids when I get back home. The first Sunday of each month we pray for the students by name and collect our mission offering to support them. It has made a difference in my students lives and has given me the opportunity to share spiritually with “kids” in Haiti. There is NEVER a “cost” to share what God has given us. Truly a blessing to be able to give, and the relationships with these Haitian students is priceless. We enjoy mail, art work, photos and report cards from the school. We have fun trying to speak/sing Creole! :) I pray for, and look look forward to the day, when my elementary students will be old enough to meet these students on a mission trip to their school! :) How awesome would that be? Until then, we will pray, we will give. I will strive to mold young lives in our elementary ministry to have generous, tender, compassionate hearts like Jesus for others, no matter what their circumstances, nationality. May Jesus Christ be praised as we give and try to make a difference in a life, which can make a difference in another life, and another . . . . . Our KidSpace Motto: Serve! Share! Shine! Philippians 2:14-16 – A Humbled Dir., Elementary Ministry in Georgetown, KY/Thanks Margaret for sharing your gift of writing! I facilitate a women’s Bible study and we have enjoyed your studies. Look forward to more in the future.

    • Rhonda, I love hearing about what you’re doing! What a blessing you are to these children! Thank you for sharing. And I am so thrilled to hear you’ve enjoyed the studies. Blessings!

      • Thank you for your kinds words and being a writer for the poor. Keep up that good support for Compassion’s ministry to children! You are making a difference! :) Oh, and the studies we did were The Organic God & The Sacred Echo. I’ll be checking out Wonder Struck soon! :) Numbers 6:24-26! :)

  4. I’m enjoying your updates. It’s encouraging to see lives changed and your stories and pictures just melt my heart. I don’t have a consistent income right now, but I can’t wait to get my first sponsor child soon! I hope I get to travel and share stories like this some day and share with such wonderful people! It’s amazing how blessed we are and how much of a possibility there is to do something good for the world and improve living conditions. (and how amazing that you are across the globe and we can share this journey with you) By the way, I wanna keep those kids. They’re SO cute!)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this information! I read the entire post to my husband. We sponsor a boy in Haiti and a girl in Rwanda, and we also write to two other children. We have their pictures on our shelf beside the pictures of our children (who are 5 and 7), and we pray for them as a family. We are thankful that Compassion has given us this chance to make a difference for these children.

  6. I loved reading this post. We had sponsored a child for more than 10 years. When he left the program, we sponsored a little girl. I read this post to my children and they were touched by the words. They want to do more and I do too. I loved the simple and real ways that we can impact her world.

  7. I have been sponsoring a young lady, she turns 20 this year, since 2005, when I met her at an orphanage I visited in Uganda. I met her long enough to say hello and ask her if I could sponsor her. We have cooresponded a few times a year since then. She is currently helping the woman who used to run this orphanage with her husband, they still minister in Uganda. I got an email from this woman who said the girl I sponsor (leaving names out) had her Bible out, it was rattered and tattered and looked like she needed a new one. Someone commented to her that it may be time for a new one and she said “This is the most beautiful Bible in the world”. My friend who ran the orphanage who emailed me said she opened the cover and there was a note from me to this young girl who was about 12 or 13 when I sent it to her, signed by me. It brought me to tears to know that she was reading God’s Word in a place where people have been killed for their faith. She has read God’s Word so much that her Bible looks like she needs a new one. I am so proud of her! She is attending University this fall and has thanked me for being one of her best friends. So beautiful when God opens the door, honored in Him, Paula M

    • Paula, this is such a beautiful and touching story. What a blessing you are to this young woman! Thank you for being a faithful servant!

  8. I am a single mom with five girls. We “adopted” our sponsor child five years ago and are dreaming of going to visit him someday. My twin daughters have given up their birthday presents for four years now to donate to special projects that they choose. Twice they have chosen to collect money instead of birthday presents for our sponsor child. Now they are starting to sell their artwork to raise money so we can go to visit him.

  9. Margaret,

    I am just returning from a trip to visit one of our sponsored children in Haiti with my 12 year old daughter. I concur with all of the things you said in this post. I was BLOWN AWAY by the poverty I saw and given such HOPE by the Compassion staff who faithfully tend to the spiritual, emotionally, social and physical needs of these dear children. I’ll be sharing your post with many upon my return home, if you don’t mind? I don’t blog but I certainly will be sharing in person what I’ve learned in Haiti and would love to share what others have eloquently wrote as well about their travels to visit their sponsored child. I’m already planting the seed for Burkina Faso next year to my husband!

  10. A worthy, beautiful read, Margaret. Taking these words to heart…

    Much love.

  11. I shared this post on my Facebook page with a short status explaining how sponsoring a child had impacted my life personally. — One of my Facebook friends was very impacted… she signed up to sponsor two kids this week and has already written them letters. She is so excited.

    Great post! :)

    Thank you…

  12. Sherrill Shimek June 19, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Thank you, Margaret, for telling what our children cannot tell us. It is heartwarming to hear how our small donation each month and at special times can change our children’s world. Compassion is an excellent opportunity to share our bounty and be rewarded by joyful, thankful letters from the least of these that in truth are the greatest!

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