Friday, June 13, 2008

Child Sponsorship – Do or Don’t?

Sponsorship that gears towards the improvement of children’s lives has been one of the forefronts to improve the living of those situated in poverty-stricken, third-world countries. The number of charities that advocate children has been growing year by year, encouraging others to lend a hand in child sponsorship, and in turn save lives.

The ability for sponsors or donors to lend a hand to children who are in need has been considered to be a fountain of good, spurting out health, hope, confidence, and friendship between the two parties. Usually in financial form, this amount however small, creates a huge impact on the life of a child and his/her community.

The dispute over child sponsorship

With all the positive feedback garnered by child sponsorship, there is still an amount of criticism attached to it. The discussion on whether this form of support is the best way to improve children’s lives has been prompted over time. One point that is widely considered as a pinnacle of such dispute is the lack of general policies for charities and organizations that give out such help.

The lack of standardization among these institutions has raised questions about proper dissemination of financial support among the sponsees; and has also come across talks on corruption. The arguments involved in sponsoring children don’t only focus on the ‘money’ but also the welfare and form of impact that is put upon the child.

Below is a peek into some common ‘pro’ and ‘con’ statements raised when dealing with child sponsorship.

The good and the bad

A brief look into the process of child sponsorship usually involves three entities – a willing sponsor, a charity chosen by the sponsor/donor, a sponsee or a candidate in need of sponsorship. The sponsor/donor gives a regular donation, whether financial or otherwise, to help the sponsee. This donation is bridged by the chosen charity and is utilized based on the charity’s vision and mission practice.

As a form of sponsor/sponsee relationship, communication between the two is commonly through reports given by the charity, and the occasional letters and cards that a child may write for the sponsor. This process more or less covers how charity involvement helps in child sponsorship.

Pros

One of the ‘good’ that this form of support gives is that a great way to spend money is on helping others improve their living conditions and create a better quality of life for them.

Next is that the help that is bestowed on the sponsees creates a wonderful impact upon them. This impact is usually in the form of security, opportunity and hope; and that this way of experience for the children is manifested through programs that are educational, hygienic, medical, and/or spiritual in nature.

Depending on the scheme of a charitable institution, there is focus among the chosen sponsees of the charity. The ripple effect that happens when child sponsorship is done also creates a better community where the sponsee lives. Charities have a way of including the environment to create an overall improvement in the lives of the sponsees.

Improvement also spans through cultural sharing, wherein the relationship formed by sponsor-charity, charity-sponsee, and sponsor-sponsee allows an avenue for all parties to be culturally aware resulting in understanding and tolerance between each other.

The observed progress of sponsored children is also a motive for organizations that do such to be given more exposure and in turn help make others aware of the help they can give. This way, more funding is possible and in turn more children are given better lives.

Cons

In correspondence to the pro points given, there is also a concern for it. First, critics believe that sponsoring a child is too costly. By costly, they mean that the a big percentage of donations are not used on children’s programs but rather on the administration’s system of progress tracking such as translation reports, salaries for non-volunteers, etc. In addition, the issue on harbouring money for the charity’s personal use also raises a red flag.

Sponsorship is also deemed as a tool for dependency, where the family and the child will be too reliant on their sponsor. Relying too much may result in lesser efforts on the sponsee’s part on escaping poverty, and leave it instead unto the charity’s hands.

Another concern is that when there is an amount of focus given by an institution towards a child, it may create isolation between the child and his/here community. The reason for such is that other community members may feel left out and unworthy of improvement - and may result in jealous quarrels and bouts.

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