Saturday, March 14, 2009

The 411 About Supporting a Child

I had the privilege today of helping out at a Compassion booth at a Christian Women's Conference (Hearts at Home) that is sponsored here in Normal, IL, MN, and MI. I know a lot about Hearts at Home as the founder is a friend of mine. Still, not being a mom, I've veered away from helping out at the conference (don't want my I-wanna-be-a-mom jealousy meter to raise too high) and instead helped out with a couple of Jill's kids. But, they are out growing me.

Last week, Compassion contacted me and asked about helping out at their booth. I love what Compassion does and even though it risked tweaking that meter, I decided to do it. I am so glad that I did. We were busy the entire time. And I got to work with Lisa Martin from Compassion and learned a lot about how to answer the questions.

Here are some of the common questions we got and the answers:
How does this work?

  • For $32 a month you sponsor a child. It is a 1 to 1 relationship. No one else will be sponsoring your child. This allows you to build a relationship with the child. (I got to insert bits about the children I am sponsoring.)
Do the children really write you?
  • Absolutely. They have to write at least 3 times a year. However, they can write more than that if they want. I had taken along a couple letters that my kids had written to share.
What do you write about and can you send gifts?
  • Write about whatever is on your heart. When you do, you will find that your children's letters reflect their concern for you and that they are praying for you. Coming from such family oriented cultures, my children struggle to understand how I can be single and live by myself. They've offered up advice like joining the church choir. When a friend moved, one wrote that she wanted to come to me so I wouldn't be lonely.
  • If you have kids, write about them. I write about kids I know.
  • You can't send packages because of the cost involved and the fact that things might not make it through Customs in other countries.
  • You CAN send small, fun, flat things: pictures (They treasure these), coloring pages, pieces of bright colored paper, stickers. Think "Flat Stanley."
  • A couple times year you CAN send extra money for gifts for birthdays or the family or Christmas. The Christmas money gets pooled so that all the kids get things. On the birthday or family gifts, Compassion workers in that country find out what the child/family needs and they go from there.
How much of the money goes to the child?
  • 80 cents of every dollar is used to directly benefit the children. The other 20 cents is overhead. Compassion is a very fiscally well run organization. The money is used for education, food, spiritual development, etc.
What about if there are other children at home?
  • Typically, only one child (depending on the family needs) is involved in the program. But Compassion understands that in these countries, sharing is a strong family value. Children take home what they learn. They teach their siblings letters by writing in the dirt. They can tell their parents that the reason they get sick so often is that the water isn't boiled. The children become advocates.
  • The children at the center have their nutritional needs addressed. This means there is more to go around at home.
  • By only having one child in the program, Compassion can influence more families. If there were 5 families with 5 children each with each child enrolled in the program, that would be 25 children impacting 5 families. Compassion thinks bigger than this. By taking 25 children each from different families, they impact 25 families and a bigger segment of the community at large.
Is Compassion a Christian organization?
  • DEFINITELY. The program is run in conjunction with a local church. Families are encouraged to go to church but it isn't a requirement. Even if they don't go to church, the children are taught scripture during the day. Again, this is carried back to the families.
How do you pick a child?
  • If you are at an event, you can pick up a packet with the child's info and everything you need to get started. But how do you decide? For some people it is a country they are interested in or one they think they might visit. For others, it is wanting a child close to their own child's age.
  • You can go online (see the link in the sidebar) and search for a child that way.
  • Compassion can also pick a child for you.
  • There are priority children. These children have been waiting 6 months or more for a sponsor. Think how much it would mean to sponsor one of these children.
What do the communities think about Compassion?
  • Lisa shared with me how much the communites appreciate Compassion. Compassion typically tries to buy food and supplies locally. As a result, they are investing in the local economy.
Do the letters from sponsors matter?
  • YES!!! It is a tangible way that a child feels loved by the sponsor. If you support a child, please write!
  • It is also possible to go on Compassion sponsored trips and meet your child. I'm praying about that.
Why do I sponsor my two children? Because Jesus calls us to be people of compassion. Compassion is not just being moved by suffering but being moved enough to want to do something about that suffering. After working the booth today, I have a greater realization of the impact that my sponsorship has not just on my child but on the families and the community. It's a ripple effect.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great information. I just recently started sponsoring a child through Children International ( It has been a wonderful experience. I looked at this website: when I was trying to decide which organization I wanted to work with. Check it out. It has a lot of great information as well.