on the needles

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dreams Come True

Totally off the knitting topic, but something I am very excited about and want to share with you all...

You may have noticed some new additions to my sidebar lately, in particular the link to Children International. What's it all about? Well, around Thanksgiving last year I finally found a way to fulfill something that has been a dream of mine - to help impoverished children to receive and education and access to health care. I've wanted to do this for such a very long time, but never found an organization that I felt I could trust and that fit my criteria for support.

Mainly I was concerned to find a charity that was:
1) well established
2) spent the majority of it's money directly in assisting the children and their communities (rather than on other "overhead")
3) had a high level of accessible documentation available so that I could see exactly what they did with my money
4) did not have a religious basis or affiliation (Although I'm not religious myself, I have nothing against people who choose to be religious. I just feel it is better to respect the beliefs, culture and values of the community you are trying to assist and to refrain from imposing our own beliefs, culture & values etc.)
5) it would be a great bonus if I were able to have a real relationship with the child I was sponsoring

Well - Children International does all those things and more! I don't want to get all preachy about it - even though I am super excited to be involved with this organization - but I do hope you will consider sponsoring a child. If this is something you have ever thought of doing I can't recommend it highly enough! In fact, I'm so happy with Children International that I and my family have sponsored eight little girls from Guatemala, Honduras, Chile and the Philippines. They range in age from five to twelve years old. Each of my children has their own special sponsor child. My kids LOVE to get letters from their sponsor child and they write back via email (which is translated and passed on to the children). We also send cards, pictures and even little gifts if we wish to. We get pictures of our sponsor kids regularly. We hear from Children International exactly what they have spent our sponsorship money on. Today we heard that one of our children, Lesly, got a new pair of shoes. You have no idea how happy it made me thinking of little Lesly and her new shoes.

Sponsoring a child costs $22 a month. That's $264 a year that will buy an education and health care as well as help with food and clothing. It blows my mind how much just $22 does for these kids, most of whom live in one room houses (often made of scraps of metal with thatch roofs) with no running water or electricity. An entire family has to exist on an income of around $75 a month in most cases. I think that, as Americans, when we envision poverty it is a somewhat abstract idea. Learning about my sponsor kids has really brought home to me what true poverty is. And my children have really learned something as well. Recently, I was reading my daughter (who is the same age as many of our sponsor kids) the pamphlet on Guatemala where her special sponsor kid, Lesly, lives. I also read her the most recent letter from Lesly (written on Lesly's behalf by her mother since Lesly is too young to write on her own). I did not emphasize any of it, just read it to her. My daughter was so delighted to hear from Lesly! After I finished reading, my daughter was quiet for a minute and then she said, "I have a GOOD life, don't I momma?" I swear, that moment, when my child connected in sympathy with another child, a stranger to her, and realized all the gifts she has in her own life...well, that was worth every penny I will ever send to Children International.

As an aside I want to say that by discussing the poverty these kids live in, I don't mean to suggest that they are unloved or neglected in any way. Their parents love them just as much as we all love our own children. I just can't imagine how I would feel as a parent if I were unable to send my little girl to school or buy her a pair of shoes when she needed them....

Anyhow...this is the first picture of Lesly that we got when my daughter chose her as her sponsor child. Lesly had probably just joined the program and had probably never had her picture taken before.

Isn't she adorable?

This is the picture of Lesly that we received recently.

If that smile doesn't convince you to sponsor a child then nothing I can say will!

You can see pictures of my other sponsor kids on the flickr badge on my sidebar. And you can access Children International through my Lift One page. There is a short video about Children International on that page as well. It is a good place to start learning about the sponsorship experience. If you have any questions I will be more then happy to answer them.

On the surface it may seem like sponsorship is a gift that you can give to these kids. In reality, you will receive far far more than you ever give!!

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Blogger Pat said...

Well said. This has really been great for us and the kids. :)

8:26 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

A very worthy cause!

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you are sharing this with everyone. I hope even more people are moved to sponsor a child. Lesly is just beautiful.

8:44 PM  
Blogger PJ said...

What a neat sharing about something that you've found to be a calling of sorts :)

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am so proud to know you- helping Lesly and your other sponsor children is a beautiful thing to do. it is very rewarding.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Hi There!
I, too have a sponsored child from the Phillipines. His name is Sunday. He is kind of shy but he has written to me. I have sent him little gifts on his birthday that I know he receives because they sent me a photo of him holding the exact things I sent to him! I feel in my heart, even though this isn't a monumental thing I am doing at least it makes a difference in the life of SOMEONE! It has been interesting to watch him grow. Keep up the good work, you sound like a really nice person! Terry

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the greatest thrill is a visit to the sponsor child home / center office to really get a view how they live everyday and to be face to face spending the day spoiling them was real fun lol

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like to say ms watson rocks in the child international kc home office guess who

2:35 PM  

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