Saturday, February 27, 2016

Should individual donors "sponsor" children overseas through charities unless they intend to "follow through"?

Recently, I was friended by someone whose page took me to a particular charity serving children in some countries in Africa, calling itself "BaNgaAfayo" ("Act like you care").
A Facebook posting  (page) offered an opportunity to sponsor a child by Paypal, with a requested donation of $40 a month.  There is a link explaining how sponsorship works.  It is also possible to donate without sponsorship. But  it seems a little hasty to "sponsor" an overseas child "merely" though Paypal, even with Bible verses quoted above.

Back in the 1970s, I “sponsored” a child with Save the Children.  I may have thought of it as “conscience money”.  I would get regular letters from a child in an African country, which I did not answer. The chikd would change periodically, once a year.  I stopped donation after the 2001 layoff, and then resumed in 2011 with better circumstances.  This time I did not opt to “sponsor”.

My own feeling is that sponsoring a child should come with a personal commitment.  If one builds a connection to a specific child at all, it should be 100%.  One should be prepared to visit (I might not be welcome in Kenya or Uganda), and even follow through with adoption, which could become a trend in the future.  Individual children (if orphaned) would not present the “Trojan” security issues that refugees might, so the political work to make this more likely could be promoted.

My own preference is also giving through secular charities, to which I give today through a mechanism set up at Wells Fargo.  But some charities may not want to work with a “distanced” relationship and may want more personal involvement. I also feel it is not my own calling to become involved in sending a “religious” message or “saving souls”.

Vox has promoted the idea of direct cash payments to poor people, who know what they need.  I personally think that support of infrastructure projects (water, electricity, Internet) is actually very important, and is less direct.

There is a site called “Give Well” which discusses specific  charities, and does speak well of a charity called “Give Directly”, link here,

I do wonder about church-sponsored missions in various countries, especially now Central America.

 A local church sends a youth group to Belize every summer and has a “scholarship” fund for residents because Belize doesn’t offer free public high school education.  A 30-hour fast in support goes on right now this weekend while I write this post!  But I wonder why this is a personal issue for teens, when there is a political problem there: rich people buy resorts fifteen miles away from the mission, and yet the government doesn’t provide free secondary education.  Is the policy of another country our personal problem?  Maybe yes, in terms of giving back.  Other churches have sent groups to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and even El Salvador (which is downright dangerous). All of these countries are under a “conservative” political eye over immigration (yes, Donald Trump).

There’s a good question, too, should charity focus at home first. Conservatives keep saying, “take care of your own first”.  But taking care of problems overseas does have national security benefits.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Kampala by Simisa

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