Heather Althoff's family sponsors a Ugandan boy named Sam. Below, Heather shares her story of meeting Sam and his family. Wondering how sponsoring a child can bless your life and perspective just as profoundly as it does the life of the child you help? Here's a story for you.
Water: It’s such a simple thing, but if you don’t have enough, it takes over your life.
That’s what 13-year-old Zinhle Dlamini told me. Getting water for her family in rural Swaziland is a two-hour-per-day chore. And the dirty water they get is not nearly enough for all the drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing for a household of 10 people.
Children, children, children. Everything we do at World Vision is for children. But when I visited a sponsorship area in northeast India earlier this month, program staff first wanted to show me the work they were doing with parents. They believed the most effective way to make a difference in the lives of children was to care about the whole family, improve parents’ livelihoods, and involve the entire community in long-term problem-solving.
As a parent myself, this made complete sense. My life centers around my kids. Make my earning more secure, and I’m better able to care for my family. Improve community structure, and everyone benefits. So I was first shown fish ponds and weaving groups, rubber trees, and orange groves. Making life better for children is our top priority at World Vision. Often that means focusing on the parents, too.
Today has been like a beath of fresh air, and not just because the weather has been ideal. We spent the day with the people of Viloma.
This ADP has been operating for thirteen years. The Colomi ADP that I spoke of each of the last two days only began a year and a half ago. The programs that can change the lives of every member in a community in only thirteen years are inspirational.
Here are the top ten things I've learned this week about the ways child sponsorship benefits a whole community:
The terrain of Cochabamba, Bolivia is both breathtakingly beautiful and violently rugged. In the shadow of its snow-covered mountains are hundreds of arid rocky hills, where horses and cows perch as skillfully as mountain goats upon the steep slopes where people too make their homes. The high altitude (over 12,000 feet in some places!) leaves even the most skilled climbers breathless.
It takes most children over an hour to walk the winding gravel roads to school. Women who want or need to deliver their babies in a hospital typically face a three mile walk…while in labor…to the nearest health facility. The average income is just $450 a year.
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)")
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.
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Every dollar donated becomes $1.15 in impact to children and communities worldwide. How?