Sponsoring a child in need. Many times that conjures up old commercials from the 80′s begging for funds… that turned out to be lining the pockets of a few of the people in charge, with no money going to the children. Also, the old model was based upon the idea that Western outsiders knew best how to help a community rather than the community itself knowing what they need.
Gratefully those days are gone for the most part. If you wish to sponsor a child there are now an array of charitable organizations that have tossed out the old model, in favor of a new sustainable grassroots model. Also, with watchdog groups constantly checking on these charities it is far less likely that someone is simply pocketing the money.
One such organization is World Vision International. Each country that is a part of WV, has their own website; so for example World Vision US is: www.worldvision.org This website is a hub that you can use to get news, learn about the organization, sponsor a child, browse their catalog and send gifts such as goats, chickens, microfinance a loan, etc… World Vision used to catch a bit of flak for advertising as though your money went directly to the sponsored child, but now they have made it much clearer that your money goes to the child’s community, and not just to the child itself.
Each child that is sponsored is assured to be a part of the programs for education, schooling, etc… and you can send extra gifts to the child’s family or community. This system tends to work better, since the whole community is involved and less jealousy is likely to occur. Also, the grassroots touch is that each community gives feedback as to what is needed, and what would most help. Sustainability is one of the main goals of World Vision and they work to make a perpetual change.
Why do I call this a ministry? Because they are indeed a Christian organization. This does not mean that they push or proselytize. Their belief is that they live out part of Jesus’ message by helping those that need a bit of encouragement or a leg up. There are some areas in the world where Christianity can be taught, they can hand out Bibles, etc… but there are also some areas where Christianity, it active proselytizing, is not allowed. They still serve those communities, hoping to make an impact for Jesus based on love and action.
The pros of this ministry; it connects you with an individual child, it is a large organization, so can make a big impact. They have disaster response that is second to none. They are so well known, so they are also watch to make sure there is no fraud.
Some cons; each country has its own people in charge (which is good too), but this makes it hard to police and constantly insure no one is conning the system, and that funds are being well used. (However, the organization does indeed run checks, and takes any reports of problems seriously.) For us more conservative minded Christians, there is a bit of unease when the “social gospel” is focused on, instead of the more salvational message of Jesus, but that is the purpose of this organization.
I don’t usually like to talk about charitable acts, but yes, we’ve just started sponsoring 2 World Vision children, and I’d love to share my experiences on here, and can wait to start writing letters and sending small trinkets along to them via mail. If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them, or point you to a phone number or webpage. If you have any WV stories to share, I’d love to see them in the “comments” section here.