What Difference Does it Make? Helping Those in Need (Part 1)

I spent this past week in Port au Prince, Haiti working with a non-profit organization.  We loved kids at several orphanages, did construction, and distributed food to needy families.  This trip has raised a lot of questions in my mind about how we can help Haiti, and even if helping Haiti is beneficial to the people.  Having come back with a new perspective, I will be writing several articles about the needs that I saw, how we can help, and how effective our help will be.

Before I went to Haiti, I felt inspired to sponsor a child.  I had gone to a concert, and one of the band members talked about child sponsorship.  His message stirred a desire in my heart to research.  I found many organizations that worked in Haiti and in other countries that needed clean water, food, shelter, education, and medical care.

Going to a third world country where many children apparently needed money, I had a lot of questions.  If I give forty dollars a month to an organization, how much of that money is going to help a child?  Will the child even know that I am giving money?  Isn’t it better to support organizations that are mentoring children and teaching them rather than throwing money at them?

In Haiti, I had the privilege of staying at a children’s home.  I was happy to see that although these kids did not have parents, they were content and they were clearly loved by the workers there. After talking to some of the kids for several days, I noticed that what they really needed was attention.  The workers of the children’s home were doing an excellent job, but there were so many kids and so much work to be done that they couldn’t give every child one-on-one attention. I wondered how we could get all these children to have the attention that they need.

One of the women on my team and I made friends with the older kids.  Most of them were about thirteen years old.  We asked them their names. One young man wrote down his name on a piece of paper.  Then he wrote his last name.  I thought it was strange that, though he was an orphan, he still remembered his last name.  “This is the name of my sponsor,” he explained.  “This is her last name, and so it is my last name.”  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I tried to hold myself together in front of these teenage boys and girls.  All the teenagers at the table started to write down their sponsors’ names.  They boasted about their brothers and sisters in the United States. My heart was filled with joy for them.

I asked them a few questions about their sponsors.  They told me that their sponsors wrote them letters and sent them pictures.  Some sponsors even visited their children.  A few of the children also had two sponsors depending on their needs.  As the children shared about their sponsors, my question was answered.  How can we provide one-on-one attention for these children?  Give them a sponsor, and show them that people across the world care about their health and well-being.

As soon as I got home, I went online and found a child to sponsor.  I am now sponsoring a six-year-old girl from one of the poorest cities in Haiti.  I know that my sponsorship will help her get an education, a free meal at the school, and help with her living conditions.  It will also show her that she is loved and that someone cares about her.

I encourage you to research sponsoring a child.  Whether you sponsor a child from Haiti or from another country, you will build a lasting relationship with that child. Organizations like HOLD the Children (www.holdthechildren.org), World Vision (www.worldvision.org), Compassion International (www.compassion.com), and Mission of Hope Haiti (www.mohhaiti.org) provide education, food, water, and care for children through sponsorship.  Think about what kind of child you would like to sponsor (age, gender, country), what needs break your heart (food, water, education, etc), and what organization you think can meet this child’s needs.  I encourage you to do a lot of research.

To sponsor a child, you can give anywhere from 20-50 dollars a month.  If you have a tight budget and you want to sponsor a child, you may have to sacrifice a little bit.  However, by making a small adjustment to your budget, you can change a child’s life.  In Haiti, I saw the positive effects of child sponsorship on numerous children’s lives.  Starting Monday, I will be writing about the ways that child sponsorship (in addition to other projects) specifically improves the well being of the community.  Feel free to comment on this post with questions or comments.

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