This section is for new and existing sponsors to tell us about their experience in the hope that it will encourage others to take the plunge.
Just prior to setting up this website, after months of thinking about it, we finally decided to actively look into sponsoring a child. We then scoured the internet for information about how to go about it and where our money could best be used. It was the lack of a summary site such as this that gave us the idea to set up DontBuyIceCream.com.
Anyway, once we'd decided which charity to use and which country we wanted the child to come from, the whole process was very straightforward, with both the application and direct debit forms being completed on-line.
If you have a particular preference for the location of the child then be careful with the on-line forms, none offer a choice of country, only of continent. As we were keen on Malawi, we called the charity the next day to tell them our preference. Even though they had already allocated a suitable child to us (in Kenya) they were more than happy to accede to our wishes and find a child in Malawi. Before making a final decision, we were sent photos of the child and her mother, and a letter from the field volunteer introducing the child and her family.
It also included details about the child's home and village, as well as the projects being undertaken by the charity in the community. This made very interesting reading and really helps to paint a picture of a way of life so very alien to ours. It didn't take any time at all to decide we would go ahead with the sponsorship. As a result, we are now the very proud sponsors of a 6 year old girl who lives near Mzuzu in Northern Malawi with her Mum, Dad, younger brother and younger sister. We know we've done the right thing and are confident that our money will be well spent. So much so, we're even considering sponsoring a 2nd child! Watch this space.............
From Val and Clive: Your website is great, like some other folk, I wish we had found it before actually going ahead with sponsorship. The information about the various countries and charities is really interesting. We have sponsored a little girl in Uganda through Abaana. We decided to do it less than a week ago and today we received all her details and photos so are now writing our first letter to her. Until deciding to go ahead with sponsorship and looking at the various charities' websites, we were not aware, or perhaps we, sadly, just didn't pay enough attention to the huge scale of deprivation and misery which exists in so many countries. Looking at the news and reading about these countries in the paper doesn't really get the message across but seeing individual children and reading about their situations did it for me. It is heartbreaking to read so many tragic stories and see so many little faces in need of help and it had me in tears on more than one occasion. I wish we had considered sponsorship sooner. I feel I just want to go out and challenge all my friends and work colleagues to take a look at these websites and then remain unaffected by what they see.
From Jane in West Yorkshire: WOW! What a fantastic site! Pity I only found it after we had gone ahead with sponsorship. We have just started sponsorship with Plan UK and have just got the details through. I sent the form through the post with a polite request for a particular country and child of similar age to our own, which is what we got. I felt a bit guilty at first about requesting a country, but after all, this is a long term commitment, and if Plan are working there, there must be a need.
I thought long and hard before becoming a sponsor - there is some criticism that sponsors are in some way selfish, because they want something back, and that a direct donation would do more good and cost less in administration. I'll freely admit that I do want something back, but at the same time I think this is what encourages people to sponsor - I'm not making a donation to a faceless charity, I'm helping a person, a friend. 40p a day isn't much to spend on a friend is it? Also, charity staff say that letters from sponsors really help the childrens' motivation - they must think it's worth the administrative costs.
Another way I justified it - there is the saying along the lines of "Give a man a fish and he will live for a day; teach a man to fish and he will live for a lifetime". This is not just about today, it is long term, but more that that: I AM BRINGING UP MY CHILDREN TO CARE. People in the western world think that bringing up their own children is expensive enough, but 40p a day is not really that much - not only does it benefit a child in a developing country, but it's a low price to pay for their OWN CHILD'S EDUCATION. Imagine if every western family sponsored a child - nevermind what the sponsored child gets - what do our children get? Through letters and updates they get a very personal insight into "how the other half live" - we could bring up the next generation to CARE! We can see pictures of the starving in Africa but the problem seems so big, and we can "switch off" from those anonymous faces - but not if it's someone we know!
Anyway, those were my thoughts on sponsorship. You should be proud of your website - you might only be sponsoring one child at the moment but you have encouraged more sponsors - this is the way to make a difference!
From Stephen in Ipswich: Thanks for a great site - in fact it was so good, with excellent links and advice that we are sponsoring two children with different charities - this way our small sponsorship money could be spent in different parts of the world, but it could make a difference - many thanks. We take so much for granted in our world, and yet there but for the grace of God.........
We received from Plan UK details of a young lady in Indonesia requiring help and support. I have to say that we were slightly concerned about this given the Tsunami disaster, but have been assured by Plan that all is in order. We also received from EveryChild details of a young lad from Peru, who celebrated a birthday on Saturday. In both cases we were very pleased with the information sent through by the charities, particularly Plan UK, and we look forward to supporting these two charities in the years to come.
Our children in particular will be sending letters to the sponsored children so that they can learn something of the different cultures etc, as well as caring for people/communities less fortunate than ourselves. The desire to become a sponsor was driven by myself wanting to do something, as a result of a recent baptism, and I found your website excellent as a source of impartial information. Good luck in the future.
From Janet: Thank you for your brilliant website. The Stats and Facts page made me more aware of how wealthy I am in comparison to billions of people throughout the world although I earn far less than the national average in this country. The biggest web site I came across (before I saw your website) is www.compassion.com which has 1,099 children to choose from and includes a full profile of each child. This is the American counterpart of Compassion UK. I found it impossible to choose just one child and your website has inspired me to strive harder workwise to be able to afford to sponsor more children. Best wishes, Janet.
From Gerry: I've sponsored a teenage African boy with a British charity for about 18 months now and have found it a rewarding experience. He has just finished his first year of secondary school and will be going into Form 2 in January. The change from his first picture, where he appeared shy and nervous, to his latest has been astounding. He is now a smiling young man brimming with confidence and hope for the future.
One of my children from the Philippines recently wrote this "I got a medal and honours in our class with an average of 92.5%. I promise myself that I will do my very best [at school] to aim higher than this, by next year. It's all for you and my parents. I won't forget you. Your help is a treasure in my heart as long as I live in this world." I have sponsored her for 2 years now.
If you would like to share your experiences of child sponsorship, we'd love to hear from you, and if you wish, we'll publish them on the site. The more positive feedback there is on the site, the more chance there is it will help persuade someone else to make a difference and become a sponsor. We look forward to receiving your stories via email to email@example.com or via the feedback form at the bottom of the Contact Us page.
If just one person decided to become a sponsor as a result of this site, then we'd have achieved our aim.
"The cost of eradicating poverty is 1% of global income"
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