Sponsored children: 22 of 23
Children of the Mekong is a charity that enables people to sponsor and help children in the countries and areas surrounding the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. These countries include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This article will discuss the pros and cons of sponsoring a child, which are not often addressed, and will further explain how Children of the Mekong has defied certain cons.
What do people think of when they hear the word ‘sponsor’?
After conducting some research, it can be assumed that when the word ‘sponsor’ is used, it usually resonates with sponsoring a company, football team, event or having an alcohol/drug sponsor. This demonstrates that when the word is generally mentioned, sponsoring a child isn’t the initial thought that comes to mind. In the western world, in particular, the word on its own has more relatable and distinguished connections that don’t involve helping a child in need.
A common question is: What does it mean to sponsor a child? Simply answered, child sponsorship is a specific type of long-term support, which is orchestrated by charitable organisations; whereby a donor sponsor is associated with a child beneficiary or a community of children. This provides the children with the opportunity to focus on their education and also supplies them with basic necessities all of which in turn will improve their lives.
The next questions that may follow are: Why sponsor a child? What are the pros and cons?
What are the pros of sponsoring a child?
Sponsoring a child is unique. In terms of ending child poverty, it is known to be the most cost-effective method to achieve this. It is a personal and specific form of fundraising that provides children from low-income families and communities with access to basic necessities and sustainable financial support. Ultimately providing them with a brighter future and increasing their chances of changing their lives for the better. The sponsor can communicate directly with the child they sponsor, by sending and receiving letters, thus enabling the sponsor to learn more about the child they sponsor and vice versa.
If you would like to learn more about the power of letters for a child, have a look on our article “Can I write to my sponsored child?”.
When you sponsor a child, it provides children with the right education they need to help them in the future. The opportunity to have an education allows children to learn more about the world around us. Ultimately they will be able to get out of the cycle of poverty, and improve their knowledge and better their chances of providing themselves with a better life. In most cases, they also have productive resources available to them that will further help them to progress. Furthermore, when one child living in poverty or from a low socio-economic background goes to school, they become empowered and may slowly educate their parents and siblings too, bringing upon change for the whole family. This transforms the life of not only the sponsored child but their family too.
Nutritional and Financial Support
The top priority for charitable organisations and global leaders is to end world poverty. Additionally, charitable organisations prioritize improving child’s nutrition, sanitation, clean water, education and health care, but also provide financial support through donations. Parents of families where a child is sponsored are disburdened from the financial pressures they would otherwise have. Consequently, their child is guaranteed full meals, medical check-ups and access to an education system. For these reasons, sponsoring a child is a powerful and efficient way to reduce child poverty.
Closer personal relationships are able to form through sponsorship, across large distances whether its internationally or within the same country. Additional help may be available for children with disabilities and chronic illnesses which would otherwise be forgotten, and much needed in countries where the percentage of people diagnosed with a disability is significantly higher.
The majority of charitable organisations receive money from sponsors which are combined with donations from other donors. The combined sum of money is used to support community programmes in regions that the sponsored children come from. Funds raised provide the children and their communities with basic necessities, such as clean water, education, health services, and more according to the specific needs of the child and the community. Furthermore, financial gifts allocated to the children may support local businesses and workers as the gift would be locally sourced. This ensures that more than one person may benefit from a singular beneficiary, all of which would overall benefit the whole community. Organisations may offer both individual and collective sponsorships which give sponsors the choice.
Although the sponsorship donations need to go through the headquarter office, for admin and monitoring purposes, the money does not bypass managerial offices. This reduces the number of people that the money passes through, the large proportion of donations is directed straight to the children or community. In this scenario, the impact of the donation is higher.
Bringing people together
Sponsorship brings people together from many different cultural backgrounds as well as a mix of ages. As continued communication is encouraged between the child and their sponsor, the long-term one-to-one relationship that is formed benefits both the child and the sponsor. Children of families that sponsor a child, learn to be more grateful for the privileged lives they lead. Especially here in the United Kingdom, we are all very fortunate to have clean water, basic life necessities and education opportunities.
What are the cons?
Although it would be considered a pro that sponsoring a child is unique, this means that many children may be left out within a community where only a certain beneficiary is chosen. Thus, leading to inequality by singling out children. To add to that, if the sponsorship ends it may cause the child that is sponsored to question the reason as to why it has ended and would blame themselves. Privacy laws may also be violated through communications.
Lack of communication
Many children that are sponsored may still live with their families, although the parents may be eternally grateful, communication has proven to be difficult as parents of beneficiaries are often illiterate which makes it hard for them to encourage their children to write to their sponsors. To add to that, the children may not always have access to the right resources to compose a letter or video.
The children may not be provided with the right educational facilities to allow them to progress with their education. Even if they are sent to a good school, they require the necessary resources and equipment to be able to attend and evolve. Furthermore, it can be said that the children that are sponsored may find it difficult to concentrate at home in their current family situations, meaning they may not reach their full educational potential. It is hard to keep track of what a beneficiary has achieved in their time of education.
Fostering racism is a term that refers to child sponsorship advertisements that distort the image of the Third World; this is done by picturing children that are sad and do not look healthy, thus perpetuating many presumed negative stereotypes of third world countries. These countries are often depicted in deprivation and degradation through the pictures or videos that are taken. We may also assume that they are passive victims of their family’s low economic status whereby their parents may be unable to cope with the requirements of looking after their children. All we usually see is one poor helpless child or family; we are never offered explanations of the causes of their poverty.
Where does your money go?
Child sponsorship is a transparent way to support a child and their family, however, people are often hesitant to donate to charitable organisations. This may be because they are not certain where their money is actually directed, and how it benefits the cause. To add to that, a continuous donation equates to a large sum of money over a long period of time, and therefore people want to know exactly how they contribute to the welfare of the children they are sponsoring as opposed to a one-off donation.
How does Children of the Mekong overcome cons of sponsoring a child?
Children of the Mekong has a determined approach; with a mission that consists of providing support, educating, training, and further helping the disadvantaged young people of Southeast Asia to find jobs. We strive to improve their living conditions and help them build their character and grow intellectually, emotionally and morally. This is done through the building, supporting and educating, developing and finally integrating it in the workplace. The beauty of sponsorship, aside from all the pros that have already been discussed, is that it provides the children with hope which motivates them to want to change their future for the better and enjoy all the new opportunities and life lessons they have yet to discover and learn from.
Individual sponsorships are offered by Children of the Mekong for £28 a month, this provides the children with the right hygiene kits, transport, supplementary courses, stationery and uniforms. As a sponsor, you will also receive regular updates from and about the child you sponsor. The charity’s sponsors receive updates, typically including photos and translated letters, which help create the feeling of a personal relationship with the child which is highly encouraged. Thus, the sponsors know precisely how their sponsored child is advancing in school and are able to keep up to date as they eventually graduate.
The monthly sponsorship donation drastically changes lives. Children of the Mekong provides sponsors with updates on the educational level and achievements of their sponsored child. Sponsored students are able to break the cycle of poverty through gaining the right education and knowledge to grow in the real world. Very often, once these children proceed through the education system and successfully graduate, they eventually become the first in their communities to reach such a high level of education. This often inspires and motivates other students to aim high and proves that it can be possible to have a better future.
Collective sponsorship is the second type of sponsorship that the Children of Mekong offers. This form of sponsorship is usually established when the opportunity to sponsor an individual child is not possible. For example, children living on the streets, centres for children with mental and physical disabilities, refugees and many more disadvantaged children are supported by this type of sponsorship. Collective sponsorship aims to help local initiatives for education. In consequence, all the benefits that come from sponsorship has a positive impact on the community.
Opposing fostering racism
It is one of the Children of the Mekong’s core values to communicate the joy and happiness of the children in the Mekong region of Asia. Since we started our education programmes in 1958, we have consistently shown the children in a positive light and have been able to document their achievements.
It is undeniable that there is a myriad of pros to sponsoring a child, it not only benefits an individual child in every aspect of life, sponsorship also breaks the cycle of poverty which is crucial, as well as indirectly and directly aids their families and communities. Global poverty has been a reoccurring issue world wide, and eradicating extreme poverty is far from being achieved; sponsoring a child reduces the number of children living in poverty by equipping them with an education and basic necessities. Although there still are cons which may cause doubts, the pros clearly outweigh the cons.
Sponsoring a child has demonstrated constructive changes to the lives of children around the world which is recognized through the work done by charitable organisations. By focusing on the children in the Mekong region, Children of the Mekong are able to create a concentration of children in one area that have the opportunity to transform their lives.
As discussed in this article, we have successfully been able to contradict the named cons that act as a hindrance to the number of people that choose to sponsor a child. Our approach prioritises the children’s wellbeing and the vital means to improve their future. Through the information found on our website it is evident that the sponsorships have changed the lives of many children in South-East Asia and therefore the pros are based in the belief that sponsoring a child is fundamental.