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Photo of MY SON!
OMG OMG OMG I'm so excited!

A few months ago I volunteered for a child tutoring program and last week I finally got the reply, incl. a photo of MY SON (I don't care if it's called 'tutoring', he's my son period!)

He's a very handsome kid (totally irrelevant of course, he could look like Quasimodo) and has KINDNESS written all over his face. He's 11 y.o. and lives in a poor African village.

I already paid for a whole year of tutoring but now comes the big question: WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

The NGO that promotes this suggested sending him an email or letter but I'm bery nervous and I don't know what to do. Maybe a handwritten postcard with a pic of Ronaldo, kids his age love soccer...

My first thought was to send him a ton of presents but maybe it's not such a good idea. It's a whole different culture and it could create conflicts. On the other hand, if I don't send him anything and his brothers' tutors send them presents, he will probably end up hating me. looooll

I was thinking, however, of opening a bank account in his name.

One thing's for sure: as long as I live, that kid will be provided for! Smile Smile Smile

I wish that all children in the world could has someone so caring interested in their welfare. I'd read up online about both your charity and others' experiences in sponsoring children in countries abroad.

Please be extra careful. When I first taught school some 30 years ago, a teacher in my school system took pictures of some of the kindergarten children and sent them to one of the sponsor programs. She was compensated for it on a headcount basis. The parents of the kids had no idea their children were being pictured and sent to strangers.

Africa is an impoverished place, most often far behind in economic opportunities. Scams abound.

Let's presume your NGO is vetted and on the up and up. Don't they provide a sponsor website with instructions about how to go about contacting your child and what is recommended?

Hardheaded1 Wrote:[...] Let's presume your NGO is vetted and on the up and up. Don't they provide a sponsor website with instructions about how to go about contacting your child and what is recommended?

Yes, I have total confidence in these guys.

They are an approved charity and they have cooperation contracts with countless entities in my country. Their volunteers also got several awards from the European Commission.

But, of course, scams are always possible and you're never too careful...

Well, that's great to hear. I've always had an aversion to the sponsorship programs because Save the Children and others like it were once found to have extraordinarily high overhead costs per child helped. The infrastructure needed to maintain the ties with the sponsor and to generate the connection were deemed ill-spent by charity rating organizations. The standard was that most of the dollars given should be helping the targets of the charity, not paying employees to run the process.

That said, I think a personal connection is important. Caring about people in another world from yours is important. Many missionary efforts by churches include that personal connection. Communications involve individuals with specific needs that are met medically, educationally, materially and spiritually.

The sponsor programs are a sort of secular missionary work, which says good things about our world. We care enough, with religion or without it, to want to help and change our world in a very evangelical way. We want others to be happy, to have enough, to not suffer.

What is the organization you are using? What does their website say about how to work with your sponsored child?

I'm happy for you!

And how very fortunate he is!

Sounds great and rewarding~

But I'd expect some photos judging from the title of the thread.. Tongue3

Thanks for your support guys, it means a lot to me.

I'm going to give them a call tomorrow. I don't want to get too carried away and do something stupid.

Start by writing him a short, simple letter. Ask him to write you as well. It will be good practise for him.
Remember that often, the money is going to help the entire family....because it is income replacement for the work he might have otherwise been needed to perform for the family economy.

Don't shower him with gifts. Find out what his family needs to help them be more self-sufficient and to produce income. Help with that. Find out about his other brothers and sisters and express interest in them too.

And don't get all excited and impassioned about this only to lose interest over the next few years. Make a simple plan that you know you will stick to as well to help him all along the way. Too often, we in the west develop a mad attraction to those in need...only to cool off as the time goes on. This can be damaging. Sometimes this comes from creating expectations that are too high....and then feeling like you are being used to provide non-essential luxuries and special gifts. I have been through this...where ultimately we didn't feel that our contribution was essential to the education of the children but really to load them up with toys.

I do know several people though who developed lifelong relationships with their sponsored children and saw them all the way through university. That is real devotion.

the other thing I will just gently suggest is to not think of him as your son. He is not. And he very likely can't reciprocate this level of personal connection.

My partner and I are supporting a young refugee through university as a foreign student. We love him...but we recognize that we are not his brothers or parents or anything so familiar and don't place these expectations on our relationship....instead...think of yourself perhaps as an 'Uncle'. This is how we relate to our friend and it works out very well without too much pressure on any of us.

Rareboy Wrote:[...] only to lose interest over the next few years. [...]

No, that will never happen. Smile

I want to help him as much as I possibly can and I do want a personal connection but not too close. I think it's best if we don't meet but I will always be there for him.

African villages are only poor because of the total corruptness of their governments and anyone in power, from the top to the bottom.

Keeping them poor is in the self interest of those in power.

As a westerner who has lived and worked across most of Africa for the last 5 years I see it everywhere, and it breaks my heart. I can drive 500 miles into the bush, run into a village thats basically a bunch of mud huts surrounded by nothing, and the kids will be wearing tattered clothes and nothing on their feet.

No x-boxes, no play stations, no TV, nothing of any material wealth.

And they are some of the happiest kids I have ever met. Beaming from ear to ear. Eager to practice what little English they know (usually hello mister!) and then falling into fits of infectious laughter when ever I practice my (terrible) Swahili on them.

Africa may be the dark continent, but its captivating once you step out from behind the (bad) news headlines.

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