Is Child Sponsorship Ethical? - Children of the Mekong

Is Child Sponsorship Ethical?

Children of the Mekong is a UK based charity and aims to fund education all over Southeast Asia, through the form of child sponsorship.

Sponsorship is the act of supporting a child throughout the course of their education. For £28 per month, the sponsorship pays for extracurricular classes who are mandatory but not free, school supplies like books and pencils, transports, stationary, and hygiene kits.

We have a team of motivated overseas volunteers in different countries for at least a year and along with the local centre managers they will choose children to be sponsored based on three criteria:

  • The child’s motivation for learning 
  • The poverty of the family
  • The commitment of the family to send the child to school, for as long as possible.

How is used your sponsorship money

How sponsorship is better than other types of donations

Helping through child sponsorship has been proven to help children in a much more personal way than simply donating money to a charity  and here’s why.

Counter child labour with child sponsorship

Children smiling siblings MyanmarWhen a child is sponsored, he and his parents no longer have to worry about where to get the money to send him to school. Often, children work to help earn money for the family’s expenses and as many of these expenses and their school costs are paid for by the sponsorship, a financial weight is lifted from the parent’s shoulders. 

The child has no reason not to go to school and their newly found motivation inspires them to study hard as well as those around them.

Empower the sponsored children

Sponsoring a child is also communicating with them. The letters that the children receive makes them believe in themselves because they know that someone out there on the other side of the globe is looking out for them. This motivates them to set high goals for themselves as often this is the first letter they have ever received and it makes them dream of a better life.

If you would like to learn more about how to write a letter to your sponsored child, check out this article: Can I Write To My Sponsored Child?

This communication also ensures that the donor can speak to the child and see the difference that they are making in the child’s life.

Long term effects of child sponsorship

Long term effects of sponsorship shows good results as well. In 2008, a study from the University of San Francisco showed that the formerly sponsored children were 42% more likely than a non sponsored child to finish secondary school, and 83% more likely to pursue higher education and finish university.

It also showed that they were more likely to become involved in their community later on in life, and inspire those around them to pursue an education and study.

Sponsored children help those around them and most of the time use their first paychecks to help their families.  

Whilst donating money is very good, sponsorship brings a personal approach that makes each child feel valued and gives them confidence.

Sponsorship really changes a child’s life and helps them build their community and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. As the common saying goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Common misconceptions about child sponsorship

Does selection of a sponsored child divide the community?

Sponsorship is often criticised for some points.

First of all some may argue that sponsorship is selective and divisive as sometimes only one child in the family or village is chosen to be sponsored. But this is often not true, when only one child is chosen in the family, naturally the siblings are happy and proud of their brother or sister and it inspires them to work hard as well. Moreover, the sponsorship donation often helps the whole family to improve their living conditions through the purchase of hygiene kits and rice bags. A small part of the sponsorship donation is also kept as petty cash, that can be used for emergencies like a health issue by the families of sponsored children.

Some also say that choosing by merit is harmful for the child. This isn’t entirely true as it motivates the children to try hard and study to achieve their goals. 

Once they are selected for a sponsorship it gives them even more confidence as they then are happy people believe in them and it’s not just a handout. It is also a stronger guarantee for the sponsor that the child will continue his education, thus building a long term relationship between the sponsor and the child.

The knock-on effect of individual child sponsorship

It’s also been said that it’s best to invest in the entire community by funding schools, giving access to running water, electricity and so forth. 

We believe that investing in a single person proves to have better results on the long term, as funding the entire community is expensive so only one community will be helped versus many children in many different places. 

Also helping one child has been proven to help lift the entire child’s family out of poverty and therefore helps the community. 

Moreover at Children of the Mekong you also have the option to fund an entire programme of students with collective sponsorship and not a single child which is also an option for people who aren’t convinced of the advantages of sponsoring one child.

We believe in child sponsorship

As this article has proven, even though sponsorship receives some criticism, it remains a highly ethical form of charitable giving.

Children receive an education and support while remaining with their families and their development is followed closely by our overseas volunteers and the programme managers. 

The support they receive really gives them the confidence boost they need to believe in themselves, pursue a higher education to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and continue to help their community.