When I was around five, I remember hiding my face in the pillows every time a child sponsorship commercial would come on T.V. I couldn’t help but fearing those children, their sad faces, and their less than ideal circumstances. The commercials played slow music and mostly emphasized on how the children they were showing didn’t have parents or money and that if we didn’t donate they would starve to death. That would scare any five year old, right?!Fast forward 25 years and I’ve found myself still hiding when those commercials come on.
Anyone can show a sad photo and try to guilt someone into donating, that’s easy. And honestly, I always thought those commercials were just stealing people’s money. Of course I have no idea what they did with the money, but I do know that I judged them and definitely did not give to sponsoring their children.
And then I came to Uganda.
It wasn’t immediate, but my view of child sponsorship started to change. The first shift in my thinking happened when I saw former students who were now successful adults. I never made the connection when I was younger (or they never showed it on tv), but these poor, sponsored kids grow up. Not only do they grow up, but many of them become professionals in their field of study. I know this isn’t a difficult concept, but it completely changed my perspective. These kids are who they are today because someone decided to sponsor them.
The next step of my sponsorship realization came when I started meeting children who were currently being sponsored. I would ask kids if they were sponsored and not only would they say yes, but they would tell me the names of the people who sponsor them. Some of the kids even knew the names of the children of their sponsors! They would carry around pictures of their sponsors and gifts that their sponsors had sent. I had always thought that kids didn’t know or didn’t care if they were sponsored, but all of this just proved to me how thankful these children were to be given such an amazing gift and opportunity.
The last stage of my sponsorship epiphany came when I talked to some of the teachers of sponsored children. They were talking about the work ethic of their students and they agreed that the students who are sponsored are the hardest working students. When I asked why, they said it was because most of them realize the gravity of the opportunity they have been given. If it wasn’t for being sponsored they would never have a chance to go to school and possibly never be successful. And if they fail, they may never have this opportunity again. This leads them to take their studies more seriously than a lot of the other students.
As you can probably tell, I am now a big fan of child sponsorship. It literally changes kid’s lives. I know that not every child sponsorship will end in success, but I can assure you that its worth taking that risk. Your money will more than likely change not only one child’s life but also the life of their future family and their families family. Take a moment and reconsider child sponsorship. Generations are changed starting with one person, and education is one of the most powerful tools you can put in a person’s hand.