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Child sponsorship

So, friendslist, what do you think about 'sponsor a child' schemes like Plan or Action Aid?

I'm considering it, particularly as a way of introducing my children to world inequality in a graspable and hopefully not too overwhelming and depressing way. Daniel has shown quite a lot of interest and concern around the latest Action Aid commercial which shows a 5 year old girl living in an Indian slum. I think it might also spur me on into taking more action generally - keeping abreast of international developments; writing protest letters etc. just because it's much easier to get motivated when faced with a single human face than a bunch of statistics.

However, I also have some reservations - obviously it incurs more admin costs than giving direct to a charity and letting them spend it as they like, but I'm also worried about whether it is essentially treating a child as a form of entertainment in a way that does more harm than good.

Also, are there any significant differences between the different organisations that offer this and their approaches? I'll do my own research of course, but if anyone knows of any examples of particularly good (or bad) practice, that would be helpful.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
the_alchemist
Oct. 29th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea. You could look on the extra admin costs as being the price you're paying for the benefits it will bring to you and your children. That's if there *is* extra costs: both Oxfam and Plan say they spend 20% of donations on admin. But there are many different ways of calculating what's admin and what isn't and neither organisation is particularly transparent about how they do that.

I don't know much about specific UK organisations nowadays. In the 90s, Save the Children faked at least some of the letters from children. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that still happens, but you'd probably never know about it if it did, so I'm not sure how much that would bother you.

This 2009 blog entry is mostly about microfinance, but there's an interesting section on child sponsorship towards the middle - it's quite critical, but it mostly seems to be relying on old evidence, and doesn't seem to take account of the fact that most sponsorship organisations now acknowledge that the money doesn't go to the particular child, but to their whole community.

Edited at 2010-10-29 03:28 pm (UTC)
atreic
Nov. 1st, 2010 12:15 pm (UTC)
Do you remember Rig explaining how Calcutta Cathedral Relief were against it because they didn't want some children to have sponsers and some not to (as they didn't want the sponsered children to get perks the others couldn't have and for it to be divisive) so they thought about 'sponser a virtual child' where you paid 'sponser a child' money _in the knowledge_ that it didn't all go to the same child and you got letters and photographs from different kids?

My memory of this is extremely hazy (I don't even know if it was something they considered and rejected or something they did) but as an idea it made me smile.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 12th, 2010 08:47 am (UTC)
Sponsor Changannur
Liz,

You raised money at your wedding for the East Sheen- Changannur Trust to build a house in the village, and they also arrange individual child sponsorship. It is a tiny tiny organisation and having been there and met them I can confirm that their overhead costs are tiny and they really do make a difference to individual children. Also because it's on a tiny local scale they can tailor their interventions to best meet the child's needs - so one child we sponsored we funded uniforms, books, food etc for her and her brother, but another child who was excelling at school was given the chance to go to a boarding school in the local big town where his life chances were genuinely transformed (he wanted to be a scientist, and suddenly it was a possibility!). Oxfam and Action Aid are both very well respected and its just not in their ethos to use more for admin than is really necessary - if some goes elsewhere, it will go to advocacy, which you also said you are interested in.

There's lots of pros and cons in general, and it's definitely true that there is a bit of an issue with some kids getting help and others not, but helping some kids is better than not doing it at all... I wouldn't be hugely surprised if some organisations did share the money out between kids, or do some general projects but I'm not sure that's a bad thing in general - they will all be done with the same overall intention to alleviate the poverty of the very poorest and most needy. Emma
(Anonymous)
Jan. 31st, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
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С уважением ваш друг Влад
(Anonymous)
Apr. 14th, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
Hoping to get involved
Hey - I am really happy to discover this. great job!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )