Growing up, I remember seeing a black and white picture of a Latin American boy on our refrigerator.
In my memory, the boy is six or seven years old and his face is expressionless. He doesn’t smile or make me sad when I open the fridge for some milk. He just looks at me, like a stranger, which is what he was.
My mom sponsored him after seeing a Christian Children’s Fund TV commercial. These were the spots that featured Sally Struthers along with pitiable image of hungry little kids in desperate situations around the world. For just one dollar a day, or some insignificant amount, you could feed one of these children or send one to school.
These ads were always tear jerkers and my mom has a big heart…so she called the toll free number, signed up, sent in her first check, and received the black and white photograph of the boy a few weeks later.
My mother sponsored this child for years, but I don’t ever remember receiving a drawing or a letter from him or any kind of update from the field. All we had was the one stone-faced picture and the hope that we were doing something good for someone, somewhere.
Well, hope no longer!
For the past two months, The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission has been running a pilot sponsorship program that is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Initially, it’s just been open to past volunteers and known supporters. Of the seventy-one sponsorable children here at the Mission, they have nineteen sponsors signed up so far, with fifty-two left to go. Over a quarter of the way there.
What makes this program unique is the amount of involvement sponsors are encouraged to have. It’s not really even about the money. Though, yes, they do ask for the standard $1 a day contribution, a figure that—because it’s India—covers each child’s share of all monthly Mission operating costs, sends them to school, feeds and clothes them, covers their medical bills and the like. But more than this, when sponsors sign up, they’re asked to enter into a relationship.
If you’re a Face-On-The-Refrigerator-And-Leave-It-At-That kind of sponsor, this program will not be for you. But if you’d like to make a real difference in a child’s life, connect with someone in another country, write letters, get letters, Skype from time to time, and provide a supportive link to the outside world for one of these amazing kids, I encourage you to look into the program. Click the big red sponsorship button when you’re ready.
This is a no pressure offer. No tear-jerking images of starving kids will be used to tug at your heart strings, I promise. There will be no flies on lips; no bloated bellies. Having lived with them for the past five months, I can tell you: the children here are a happy group. They speak English. They are engaging and affectionate. And because they are so wonderful (and because there are only fifty-two sponsorable children left), we are looking for the most enthusiastic, the most passionate, the most supportive potential sponsors out there.
If you’ve followed this blog and have been touched by the faces of the Mission kids, their stories, their joy for life…maybe you’d like to get involved? If sponsorship is not for you, there are lots of other ways to participate that might be easier. From one-time donations, to specific project funding, there is a reality behind these stories and you can be a part of writing them.
I really struggled with who to sponsor. I thought: Maybe Santooshi and Reena, two sisters I love like my own kids. Or maybe Jessica or Jimika? Roma or Serena? Malika and Jyotika? In the end, I chose Job, one of the older boys and someone who I suspect will need support in the years ahead. I know Job pranced around like a peacock when he heard the news.[frame style=”modern” image_path=”http://indianorphanage.com/io/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/kushboo-Sponsorship-Program-Orphan-Sponsor.jpg” link_to_page=”” target=”” description=”Kushboo with flowers for her sponsor…wherever he or she may be.” float=”” lightbox=”http://indianorphanage.com/io/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/kushboo-Sponsorship-Program-Orphan-Sponsor.jpg” lightbox_group=”” size=”portrait_thumb”]
Cynically, I’ve always wondered about that kid in the black and white picture from back when I was a boy. Was he even real? Did five hundred other families have his same picture on their refrigerators? Did his life change as a result of my mom’s generosity? How much of her monthly money reached him? How much went to Sally Struthers or the Christian Children’s Fund? I have no idea.
What I can promise you is this: These kids are real. They are easy to love and easy to please. When they find two pieces of candy accidentally packaged into one candy wrapper, they talk about it for days. They also all know about the new program and can’t wait to meet their sponsor.
What’s more, 100% of your money will be used to better the Mission. There is no NGO overhead. No bloated salaries. No waste. You will not be simply writing checks and hoping. If you dive in, reach out, give your heart and take the heart that is given, you will not only be changing the life of a child, you will be changing your own life. And for $30 a month, that feels like a bargain to me.
Heck, you’ll even get a picture you can put on your refrigerator.