28 Oct Children of The World
What made you decide to become a sponsor with Children International?
I had been looking to build a relationship with a child, and to help them in pursuing their dreams. Fortunately, I was told about Children International from a personal experience and by someone who has knowledge of what they do. Children International provides 83% of the money contributed to the actual cause. They have also been in business for more than 75 years. I found those to be very important factors.
How did you pick the children you sponsor?
On their website, they have a database of children from 2-17yrs, from countries all around the world. I had in mind that I wanted a child from Columbia. Reason being, I love the culture, I’m a salsa dancer, and I love latin music and I wanted to embrace even more of the culture. It was important to me to be able to develop a relationship with the child. I wanted an age-old enough to communicate with her. So I found my girl. Her gentle smile captured me. Also I loved that she enjoyed singing and dancing as her hobbies. Though I didn’t stop there, I wanted to sponsor another one in a location I wanted to visit. I choose the Philippines. Once again I found a girl who captured me. With each profile they provide details on how much the family earns, their siblings, do they have fresh water, go to school, what they sleep on and so forth. All of which helps you understand their needs.
You went to the other side of the world to visit your child after only sponsoring her for several months?
Yes, and I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel very blessed that I had the ability to do so. I wanted a full day with her so I arrived very early in the morning and flew out the next early morning. I wanted to see everything first hand. Children International was so gracious in accommodating me and made my experience incredible. It completely filled my heart to meet her mom, and also the staff at Children International. I could see how much it meant to my sponsor child, Nicole and her mother. Her mother seemed lost for words and I could see how grateful she was. About 800 sponsors a year visit their sponsored children. It is the most rewarding thing we can do for them and ourselves.
Could you tell us about your experience?
When I arrived at Children International the whole staff warmly welcomed me. There I met Nicole and her mom. We went over the visit and their guidelines.
One of my requests was to view the community center so that I could see what Nicole is provided. I met the staff and I was shown what the children have access to. I was able to see a boy writing a letter to his sponsor while I was there. Then we went to lunch at Jolliblee – it is their Philippines fast food chain. From there we were taken to visit Nicole’s home. I watched as we drove through their village on unpaved dirt roads. The people seemed just to be present, with not much purpose. Kids and dogs wandered the streets. It was unlike anything I have seen first hand.
I was introduced to the whole family. Their home was a shack, very small. Their sleeping area was closed off from the living area with a curtain. There was a child sized bed that slept all three children. In front, would lay the parents on the floor with blankets. They did have running water, though it was from a faucet with no filtration. Their surroundings overlooked the next family’s home, clothing hung from the wires. It was an eye-opener to see and experience.
I wanted to enjoy the day with Nicole and do something fun. We went to Ocean Park in Manila, an ocean aquarium. We saw shows, different ocean life, and even did the fish foot bath. Nicole and her mom were smiling the whole time. I was filled with complete happiness to be a part of this with them. I asked what gift I could get Nicole and also something for the family. Nicole wanted clothes and her Mom wanted groceries for the family. That told me a lot about their situation, knowing generally that an 8yr old would want toys. Every place we had been throughout the day was new for them. Her mother, 38, has never left her area, never been to a mall, a grocery store, or been able to enter Ocean Park since there is an admission fee. At the grocery store her mom took a basket, though I wanted her to grab a cart. I told her please go pick anything you need. She bought canned food, boxed milk, rice. This is what she is familiar with. I tried to help and welcome her to buy more. I believe she was intimidated and shy to buy much.
At the end of our visit we exchanged hugs. My heart was full. I couldn’t have asked for a better visit and to know where my money is going. Truly I know I am making a difference and Children International is helping achieve that.
Why would you suggest others to go with Children International?
Children International has a long history in helping children become self-reliant adults. Their approach is successful and continues to advance. I know that my small contribution is making a difference in that child’s life. The children have a chance at a better future and the ability to battle their poverty.
What does the money you contribute monthly go to?
My monthly $28 gives the child access to their community centers, which provide full-time doctors and dentists, pharmacies, library, computer labs, playgrounds, school supplies or uniforms if needed. CI provides resources, programs and services that help reduce the burden of poverty on impoverished children and youth. Sponsorship provides important assistance and services like medical and dental care, educational support, and access to youth programs that help young people learn life and leadership skills. In addition, as children establish skills, they give back by teaching the younger children.
CI makes it easy for you to email your child and send photos. The best part though, is the kids send an actual letter through the mail. It’s like receiving a gift every time you open your mailbox. One of my children writes English and the other in Spanish. They are so well spoken, grateful, proud, and happy children. I’m impressed and touched every time. One time my child from the Philippines wrote me about school. She wrote, I promise I will try harder this year. I just melted. Keeping communication and encouraging them is very important.
I am truly grateful and humbled by my experience. I hope sharing my story and visit has in turn also inspired you. I believe each and everyone of us can make a difference in this world. I feel blessed to be able to provide a small donation monthly to help Nicole and Nelly. I hope you too will consider sponsoring a child of your own. Developing a relationship with him or her and giving them a chance to break out of their poverty. It was the best decision I could make.