When I sponsor a child with World Vision Canada does my money really go to them?
This is the number one question I am asked most in the days leading up to my trip to Colombia. I spent a week finding the answer to this question inside many impoverished Colombian cities where violence and drugs are a threat to childhood and family health. I witnessed extreme child poverty and the work World Vision is doing to try to help. I hope these posts help answer that question and many others too.
Meet Miguel and Juan. I introduced you to them briefly yesterday in a post about soccer balls and World Vision Gifts from the holiday gift catalogue. This week I have been sharing several posts about my time spent with World Vision Canada touring several of their ADPS (area development programs.) in Colombia. Today I want to spend a bit more time sharing these two Peace Keepers and sponsored children. Today I also want to answer the question also about what happens when you sponsor a child with World Vision Canada.
Miguel and Juan are both 20. They live in a spot called Taminango. They were sponsored as children by someone in Canada through World Vision. They were roughly 5 and 3 when they were first sponsored by World Vision Canada. I know a bit about this area Taminango and Santander De Quilichao, Colombia. We have been briefed on the struggles here, the history. This morning we visited a school called Policarpa in an area of Santander De Quilichao where violence, guns, drugs and poverty are very real threats. Taminango is a bit more remote than the area we visited in the morning and we have found Miguel and Juan in a dusty dirt field coaching a group of about 40 boys after school. It is late afternoon. They come here three days a week for two hours to help coach soccer.
ON Sponsorship: I want to know what sponsorship felt like to these two young men. I want to know if they felt a connection with their sponsor, if they got the letters. I also want to know what all that meant to them.
Juan (on the right) starts:
“Sponsorship has been very important to me. I have always said the tool we received here was education. That tool is very important to our success.”
Both Juan and Miguel are now students at a University in Cali. They are studying sports and training to be Phys ed teachers when they are done. They were both sponsored as children and now they each have received a World Vision Canada scholarship to attend university. In these areas, where there is a lot of poverty, and the country is spread out, access to higher education can be very difficult. There are some public universities and colleges, both public and private. There are three entry level exams. Our translator Astrid, a World Vision Colombia communications worker says the entry level exams can be difficult to pass and the cost for higher education also is an issue for many.
“We didn’t ever think we would be at university studying, but now we are. We have seen that our dreams can come true,” says Juan.
Juan has clear recollection of writing his sponsor and receiving the letters regularly. He remembers reading each one, and says he enjoyed knowing who else was in his sponsor’s family and what they were doing. That was important to him.
“It taught me that no matter the distance, people can support each other. You can support people who need you.”
Miguel doesn’t remember as much. He is quieter than Juan, but he has no hesitation recalling how sponsorship shaped him and how being sponsored made him feel.
“It was important to me to get that support and to know also that people lived in different conditions than we did, and that they cared. It was important to know there were people who supported us and believed in us.”
What I witnessed repeatedly throughout my trip with World Vision Canada was that children and youth who are sponsored are deeply committed to community and building relationships. Whether they intend to or not, they live purposefully and they pay it forward. Sponsorship helps children get through public school. That can be a hurdle in areas where you sometimes must walk an hour up a mountain to get to the school itself. It can also be a massive challenge if you have a family that are farmers or underemployed and your children need uniforms to attend school. Sponsorship often buys the uniforms and the books.
81 % of Word Vision revenue goes to help children and communities in need. In fact World Vision Canada has received awards for accountability and financial responsibility.
On Mentoring Younger Children and what being a Peace Keeper and a Coach Means:
These young men, attending university in Cali, also coach a group of boys three days a week after school. They are all boys living in a vulnerable area still struggling with child poverty. Both Juan and Miguel approach this coaching activity with maturity and insight.
“We have learned so much responsibility with this group because they are children,” says Juan. “They look at you to see that you are a good example.”
Miguel speaks to a spiritual component of being a coach, mentor and Peace Keeper. “They see there is a life spirit inside each of us. We try to do our best so that the others will feel good and safe and learn.”
Juan smiles easily and often. He is calm, composed and polite. “This group is a challenge because I learn more every day with them and I am inspired to learn more every day so I can help them. Every time I work with them I think back to my childhood. I didn’t have the chance to be part of a club. Most of the teams were far from here and the games would mean I had to get to another place like Cali or Santander.”
Teams need uniforms and equipment and often competition is a distance from where the actual club practices. These are the same issues we sometimes have in areas of Canada perhaps. We have child poverty too. But here the roads are longer and less reliable, sometimes through highways patrolled by police and paramilitary. For children the obstacles to play, to health and education too, are bigger here. It would be so easy to be dispirited, disillusioned, disenfranchised too. But these two young men lead by example, building a team and a future for many.
I am sharing my journey to Colombia with World Vision Canada here on the blog in a series.
You can read
Part 1: The Briefing
Part 2: Where Hope Lives
Part 3: What a Soccer Ball Looks Like
tomorrow read more about the women of this community…..
Sponsor a child and change a community. Or you can buy something for someone this year that makes a difference to an entire community like this one. Visit the gift catalogue here: http://bit.ly/1pbSZpV
For more information visit the main World Vision site.
You can also follow World Vision on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/worldvisioncan/
and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorldVisionCan