I recently made the decision to sponsor another child and received a package in the mail tonight from Childfund Australia, confirming details of my new “sponsor child”, Nancy. For the last six or seven years, I’ve been sponsoring a young boy in Ethiopia, called Nureden. He’s almost twelve now, and although I don’t know him in the way you’re “supposed to know sponsor children” (aside from the occasional updates on his progress), I certainly feel a strong commitment to maintain monthly payments to support him and his family… because I can afford to.
Unfortunately I sense amongst some people in Australia a degree of cynicism about child sponsorship. At the heart of this cynicism are concerns some of the money is wasted along the way and that the idea of child sponsorship is inherently paternalistic. In his song September 10, Eddie Perfect (who I really like), also offers the idea child sponsorship somehow “picks winners” while condemning others. And yes, there are probably other organisations which may do a better job in assisting communities. But even if all those issues are true, I still think it’s great there are schemes like the one offered by Childfund Australia, where people like myself can do something to help families and communities in need. Yes, I know I could hop on a plane and go to Africa and be “hands on”, but I don’t know if I’d be very good at that, and I’m not sure how much help I could actually be.
In the meantime, I have a well paid job and I live in a wealthy country which, by and large, looks after its people well. As I don’t have children of my own (and no, this is not some kind of child replacement therapy for myself), I can afford the $70 per month it costs to provide support to the families of these two young children. I also give money, by the way, to Medicins Sans Frontieres, which I think does a terrific job in providing volunteer medical assistance to people in many needy countries.
In the grand scheme of things, $25-30 per week, is a small percentage of my income, which I’d probably otherwise waste on useless crap I don’t need. It’s a no-brainer, really.