Thursday, April 30, 2009

Does Child Sponsorship Really Work?

This is Lovena. She is one of over a million children sponsored around the world, through Compassion International. In many ways her circumstances are not unlike the other children being sponsored through Compassion. She lives in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Life for Lovena is difficult. Like other Compassion sponsored children, because Lovena is sponsored, she has hope for a better life. There is something that makes Lovena different, however.Lovena is sponsored by a group of Compassion sponsored kids in the Leadership Development Program (LDP). What makes it even more amazing, is that these are students in the Dominican Republic.

You may have read about Juan David. He is one of those LDP students. Juan is sponsored by 12 firefighters of the Valley Regional Fire Authority. He completed high school and enrolled in the Universidad Aut├│noma de Santo Domingo. When I saw Juan David in October, 2008, he was speaking to a group of 300 Child Advocates from around the world. Juan told about how important his sponsors were to him as he was growing up. The Hopper family of Australia sponsored Juan for 11 years. Juan spoke also of his current sponsors who are putting him through Medical School. He said that some day he hopes to sponsor a child, and give that child the support he has received. After that speech, Juan returned to the table, and sat next to me. He told me that he would some day sponsor a child from Haiti. This meant a lot to me, because my family is adopting Daniela from Haiti.

Just a couple weeks later a group of Leadership Development Program students in the Dominican Republic decided they would collectively sponsor a child. A child from Haiti! In order to understand just what a big deal this is, you must first understand that, even though these students are being sponsored to go to college, their lives are still VERY difficult. Juan travels 1 hour each direction every day to the university. He lives in a home with no power, with his mother. Juan keeps most of his belongings at his pastor's home for fear that his clothes and books will be stolen from his home when he and his mother are away.

You should also understand that even though Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island of Hispa├▒ola, the two countries are worlds apart. They speak different languages, and there is a great amount of discrimination.

These Compassion LDP students truly appreciate the help they have received from their Compassion sponsors. Now they understand the joy of being a sponsor! They look forward to receiving letters from their sponsored child, just as I do. They pray for her just as I pray for them. They look forward to seeing what God has in mind for Lovena's future.

If you ever ask yourself if sponsoring a child is making a difference, all you need to do is look at these amazing sponsored children.

Below is an excerpt from Juan David's speech in October, 2008.