At the end of last week, Rachel Held Evans, one of the fabulous bloggers headed with us to Bolivia, asked her readers what tough questions they had about child sponsorship, humanitarian work, and World Vision. I dug for answers to the questions they asked with the help of colleagues across our organization.
Perhaps you or others you know have wondered what the answers are to these questions. And if you have any other questions for us, just ask!
Writing next time from Bolivia,
Here's a couple of my fave questions on Rachel's blog... (The follow is an excerpt from Rachel Held Evans' interview "Ask a humanitarian... (Carla responds)")
Question from Elizabeth: How does child sponsorship help the community at large and not just the individual children? Do the sponsored children end up using their education to just leave their poor communities behind? I have always worried about this.
World Vision’s work is always in the context of families and communities because children thrive when their families and communities are healthy. Our interventions depend on what the community needs. Children who have access to good nutrition, clean water, basic healthcare, and educational opportunities are better prepared to build a future for themselves and their families and communities.
World Vision doesn't just build wells; we train community members to maintain them for the long term. We provide food distributions in desperate times as well as training for improved food supplies for seasons to come. And World Vision often provides micro-loans to the parents of sponsored children to help lift the entire family and community out of the cycle of poverty.
Sponsorship is not adoption. Our goal is not to take children out of their communities, but to build up that entire community so that children reach their full potential.
I’ll tackle the second half of this question in my answer to the question
from Kristin: "What happens to the sponsored kids when they outgrow the program?" – but let me also address another reader’s question: “Does ‘sponsoring’ a child do more good than giving the same amount of money?”
That depends on how we define “more good.” One interesting note to sponsorship is the relationship that develops between the sponsored child and the sponsor. When I’ve met sponsored children around the world, they consistently treasure the letters from their sponsors because sponsorship is not just about physical needs, but about a child’s need to feel significant. As a mom, I am so grateful for the people who treasure my children as I do. That’s the same feeling I’ve heard from mothers of sponsored children.
From Audrey: I saw this on the World Vision website: "We maintain our Christian identity while being sensitive to the diverse contexts in which we express that identity." How does that work?
(Others asked related questions about how faith is integrated into educational programs through World Vision.)
Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God's unconditional love for all people.
In a country like Bolivia, we are quite free to hire Christians, work with the church, and incorporate faith overtly into our program work. In other countries where there may be no legal Christian church and where distributing Christian materials would put our staff or sponsored children in danger, child sponsorship provides an opportunity to live out our Christian faith by caring for those in need regardless of their situation.
In every country where World Vision works, we are identified as a Christian organization. Our leadership is Christian, and all staff agree to demonstrate Christian values.
For real-life examples of how we live out our faith in our work in Bolivia, you can read the cover story from our president Rich Stearns in the latest World Vision magazine, out this week. There are numerous stories of how the witness of World Vision staff have transformed lives. Here’s one of my favorites.
Read all the questions and Carla's answers on RachelHeldEvans.com.
And for more on our bloggers trip to Bolivia, July 30-August 7, see our trip page.