July 17th, 2020

“By sponsoring a child, you can change their future” Reflections from Alison Ward

I have been helping at International Needs while I have been between jobs and have been assisting with child sponsorship.  It has transformed my thinking regarding sponsoring a child and what it really is all about.  I have learned such a lot and would love to share a few thoughts with you.

Yes, sponsorship is about paying the school fees, so that a child can attend school.  However, as I have discovered, it can be so much more.

Firstly, I would like to share how lovely our sponsors are!  I have discovered that it is possible to build a relationship with a child from another culture, indeed a whole other world.  You can write to them and receive a reply.  Children sometimes call their sponsors “Uncle” or “Aunty”.  I know of one lovely sponsor who does not have children of her own, who keeps photos of her sponsored children in her purse and shows these to friends when they share photos of their grandchildren.

In Burkina Faso, some of our children had heard about the Covid19 virus in the UK and were so concerned about their sponsors here.  The children wrote to their sponsors, who responded to say they were fine.  Two children even wanted a photo taken of them writing to their sponsors and this was emailed, along with their letters!

I was really moved when I received a beautiful batch of cards from children in Bangladesh.  The children had written a message (which was also translated into English) and the children had drawn a picture, freehand and coloured it in for their sponsor.  Each one was totally different, ducks, trees, rivers, houses and sunsets.  I found it inspiring to think of the children taking such care over their work.

When writing to my own sponsored child in Uganda, I had never really been sure what to say, what he would find of interest as our lives are so different.  However, working at IN I discovered a great booklet called Child Sponsorship, which is sent out to all new sponsors now.  This has all kinds of suggestions.  Write about your hobbies, sports, your family, friends or job.  You can ask question and the child will reply.  If you do not have a copy of the Sponsorship Guide and would like one, just let us know.

Working at IN I found children have a relationship with their sponsors.  Their letters become a conversation, children asking how the family wedding went and the sponsor sending a photo – it is just like family! (in this case IN Family)

I was surprised how many sponsors remembered their child’s birthday and would send them a card.

It is humbling to find a sponsor for a child from a very poor family, who struggle to buy food, let alone pay school fees.  But without education how can this cycle be broken? I truly believe by sponsoring a child, you can change their future and that of the community as a whole

Finally, I am amazed that children are grateful to their sponsors for the opportunity to learn.  They show their appreciation by working hard, to pass their exams and move up to the next Grade.  They do not take education for granted.