As promised, I have a little update on the summer happenings within the Child Development Program! But that’ll be posted tomorrow because first, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned from working within the CDP every day for the last 2 months. I pray it blesses you!
I’ve been the sponsor of a girl in Tanzania through another ministry since 2009. Being in the role of a sponsor, monthly sending financial support and corresponding with my girl for years, God has changed my life through the experience and He has undoubtably touched the heart of that little girl as well.
In all these years, though, I’ve often been curious what happens on the other side…. I mean, beyond the website with photos of needy children, what really transpires within the ministry and with the child enrolled for sponsorship? How are donations used? How much time is actually invested in the child you’ve chosen to sponsor?
I honestly may never know what things look like with the other ministry I partner with, but for Four Corners Ministries’ Child Development Program and my sponsorship with them, this internship has given me an inside look into the mission and actions taken to obey God’s command to care for the least of these.
These are just a few things that have stuck out to me I thought would be beneficial for all to hear!
The CDP at Abaana’s Hope truly stands out among other ministries in the community in their honest, Christ-like approach for reaching out to needy children in the community. Unlike other NGO’s and ministries in the area, I’ve been so impressed by the way our CDP handles each sponsorship with the utmost integrity and care. The moment word is received from FCM’s stateside office about a new sponsorship, the team here is immediately on top of things, getting to work helping meet that child’s specific needs with the donations specifically received for him/her
For instance, when little Gerald was sponsored last month, within the week of receiving support, he was enrolled in our nursery school, daily receiving benefits of the school feeding program & teaching, he was given several changes of clothes that fit and a good pair of shoes, a food supply for home, and anytime access to medical care at AH. I hope his sponsor knows what a blessing her financial gift has been to Gerald and how it will continue to help him grow in the days to come!
As I discouragingly learned this week, not all organizations operate this way. They stick the photo of a child on their website to attract donors, then use the funds in other areas of the ministry, or for personal profit. Sponsors never know that their monthly financial gifts aren’t ever reaching their child. It really breaks my heart.
But then I look back to this ministry and see sweet Gerald out here every day, sitting proudly in class and learning to be a normal little boy playing ball, laughing, no longer worrying if he’ll get to eat that day or have a bed to sleep on at night. When I see Gerald I see a living testimony of God’s goodness! God is raising up sponsors for all these children within our CDP, and also establishing a program that is so committed to trustworthiness, accountability and service toward both kids and donors. It’s a rare and beautiful thing!
Something else to be noted is that the CDP isn’t just a sponsorship program….it’s a development program. The physical nurturing of each child’s need is a very crucial part of the process, but because this is a mission driven by the Gospel and the desire to make Christ known, even more care is taken to help the children grow spiritually through special counseling from church & ministry leadership, and opportunities to attend Bible-based programs at AH throughout the week. Honestly, it will be the greatest reward to the child, and our greatest satisfaction as a ministry, to see these kids come to know and love Christ and graduate from the program as passionate Jesus-followers and disciple-makers.
This is another thing I often wondered about while sponsoring through another organization…Does my sponsored girl really receive my letters? And do they mean anything to her? Please tell me I’m not the only one curious!?! While I may never know the answer regarding the other ministry, for FCM sponsors, I can tell you with full confidence: YES!! Yes, your child receives the letters you write. And yes, they mean the world to them.
Not long ago I hand delivered a note sent over by a sponsor to her child. When I gave him his letter along with the photo of his sponsor’s family, the happiest grin flashed across his face! He held that sheet of paper like it was the greatest treasure he’d ever been given! Then I watched as he spent the rest of the evening reading over the message a dozen times or more. His smile only got bigger!
So in case you aren’t convinced already, please believe me when I say that these children appreciate your financial support so much. Almost every one of them will tell you in the letters that they are happy because you have given them the chance to go to school, have food to eat and clothing to wear, etc. But even more, they love knowing you as a friend and they care so much about the time you take to invest in them.
The Child Development Program at AH desires to connect sponsors with their children as much as possible. As a sponsor you have the freedom to request updates on your child at any time. At the same time, the program staff has set a goal to provide updates on each child’s welfare at home, school progress, relationships with others, and medical issues at least twice a year in addition to whatever letters the child sends. Anything to help the sponsor respond to their child’s specific needs through prayer and guide them in their correspondence.
Anyway, I hope this has been informative for you, especially if you are among the 20+ new sponsors to one of the kids from the Child Development Program here in Uganda (!!!!!), or if you were seeking more details about becoming one! As a sponsor of one of the children myself, looking from the inside out, at this other side of sponsorship, I now have a whole new perspective on programs like this and I pray this little glimpse today has helped you see the beauty of it, too!
**As a disclaimer, let me say that by sharing some of these things today I wasn’t out to tear down one organization or elevate our own. No organization has it all figured out. I have a high respect for the other ministry I support. And the CDP at AH is still VERY much a work in progress and is far from perfection! Some things we’ve got right, but they still need refining. Other things need MUCH more work, too, so we eagerly look to other NGO’s and ministries to see how they are operating. We depend on God to lead us in growth, and we pray that through Him the CDP will become the best program it can possibly be…..all for the glory of God and to give these children the best opportunity to succeed in the future!
I still can’t contain my joy over the growth of this program since arriving here, and the enormous impact Jesus is having on the communities of Kinene & Laminto through this specific outreach. It’s a joy to serve through CDP! All praise be to Jesus’ Name!