World Vision’s child sponsorship program has been part of my life for nearly two decades. My dad started working at World Vision when I was 9 years old. I’ve worked here for nearly five years now, and my husband and I sponsor three children of our own.
We love getting letters, drawings, photos, and progress reports from the children in our global family. And we love sending them cards, pictures, small packages, and the occasional extra gift.
But even as a staff person and a longtime child sponsor, I’ve still asked myself: What does sponsorship actually do? How does it actually work?
In putting this blog post together, I’ve learned that, in a nutshell, sponsorship connects you with a child in need and empowers the child’s community to become healthy, safe, and self-reliant, breaking the cycle of poverty.
It’s not a handout. It’s more like a hand up. By helping to provide access to life essentials, we, as sponsors, don’t just “give away” our money and cross our fingers. We actually help World Vision in giving the entire community of our sponsored child a “boost” up and out of poverty.
In order for children to experience life in all its fullness, they must have reliable access to all of the essentials for life: clean water, a secure source of food, healthcare, education, etc. That’s why World Vision takes an integrated approach to helping our sponsored children’s communities become whole, because each piece of this puzzle intertwines with the others.
In Senegal, a World Vision water pump in Mballo's village gives her community clean water. ©2010 David duChemin/World Vision
Clean water: This is often where our work starts. Simply providing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene can cut a community’s child death rate by more than half.
Food security: We help farming families learn better crop cultivation and food storage techniques, provide essentials like seeds and tools, and distribute food aid to help make sure that children get the nutrition they need.
Health care: We help to make basic health care accessible by stocking health clinic shelves with medicine, training parents and health workers to treat illness, and coordinating HIV-prevention education and care for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
In Sierra Leone, this school, built by World Vision, gives children like nine-year-old Musu an education. ©2011 Justin Douglass/World vision
Education: When children are educated, they have the opportunity as adults to earn better wages, raise healthier, educated children of their own, and have a voice in their community. This is done by equipping classrooms, training teachers, and providing learning supplies to help children reach their God-given potential.
Economic opportunity: Small loans and business training help parents start or grow businesses so they can provide for their children, while creating new jobs in their community. World Vision microloans have helped to create or sustain millions of jobs worldwide.
Spiritual nurture: We serve those in need because we’ve been inspired by our faith, and by the example Jesus set for us. Every day, children can see God’s love through the care provided by our staff. Where appropriate, we partner with local churches to provide support and training.
Knowing that the whole goal of sponsorship is to help a child’s community become self-reliant makes the experience bittersweet when my sponsored child’s community “graduates” from needing World Vision’s assistance.
I want my sponsored children to be prosperous so that they can turn around and help their neighbors. It’s the ripple effect of sponsorship and the type of community development World Vision nurtures wherever we go, and I love being a part of it.