by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
For 100 days, starting in mid-October and concluding Jan. 21, thousands of you said “yes” to child sponsorship.
To get the word out, ChildFund’s integrated campaign encompassed television advertising, website updates, e-mail and social media, including a three-phase Facebook promotion.
At the end of the campaign, 5,987 more children were sponsored, and for that we are grateful. Several ChildFund employees also answered the call.
Although we didn’t hit our goal of 100 new sponsors each day of the campaign, your support enabled us to save the lives of more children who currently lack proper nutrition, clean water and a chance for education.
The campaign also served to increase awareness of ChildFund and its mission. During the 100 days, ChildFund’s Facebook site attracted more than 2,500 new fans. Hundreds of you participated in our Facebook mini-sweepstakes, posting your sponsored children’s photos, pinpointing your sponsored children’s locations on a world map and sharing funny or poignant quotes from children’s letters. We learned some remarkable things about you, our sponsors, and the children you support.
As each Facebook event concluded, we chose a random winner from among the participants. Congratulations to Vada Cleeter of Indiana, who sponsors nine children; Paul Porter of South Dakota, who sponsors a child from Indonesia; and Falguni Pandya from California, who sponsors one in Sierra Leone. Cleeter won a stash of ChildFund gear, while Porter and Pandya won $100 in educational items to be delivered to the field in their honor.
To a child living in poverty, sponsorship makes a world of difference. It’s not too late to say “yes.”
Guest post by Jack Siegel
Last spring 10-year-old Jack Siegel traveled to Kenya on a ChildFund study tour, accompanied by his father John and grandmother Alice. For Jack, the highlight of the trip was meeting 10-year-old Willis, whom Alice began sponsoring right after her grandson’s birth so that the two boys, though worlds apart, could write and become long-distance friends throughout their childhoods. Jack, who has since turned 11, shares his memories of the trip.
The trip to Africa was great. We planted trees that will help the environment and we saw how a well helped a community. But, definitely, the best part of the trip was meeting my sponsored child Willis. That was amazing!
Willis is really nice, and he’s really smart. We took him a shirt and a soccer ball. I noticed that he was very thankful for the things we gave him. I think many Americans, especially if they’re wealthy, might not be that excited about a shirt, but he was happy and excited about it.
We took pictures of our family and we found out more about Willis’s family. His brother had died, and his family has had a lot of hardships.
But Willis is a kid like me. He enjoys playing soccer. I enjoy playing basketball. He enjoys playing with his goat. I like playing with my dog.
We had almost a full day together, and I got to find out what he likes to do — play soccer — and who is favorite soccer team is — Chelsea.
I got to play soccer with him. And I found out he was much better at soccer than most Americans.
Now that I’ve met Willis, it’s going to be easier to write. We can talk about what we did that afternoon for a long while.
It’s very crazy how it is that Willis and other children in Africa have so little. We have so much in this country and we spend money so shamelessly. I think my grandmother began sponsoring a child in Africa for each of her grandchildren because it’s a great learning experience for us. It’s amazing what less then $400 a year can do for a child living in Africa and other places in the world.
Sponsorship is fun. You get a friend. I have learned so much from writing letters to Willis. I plan to be his pen pal for at least 20 more years!
I just want Willis to be able to stay in school so that he can have options like I have when he grows up.
Definitely, I think more people should sponsor children. I mean, it can change a life! Without this support, children may not be able to stay in school. What if one of these children turns out to be a president of a country? Maybe a child will grow up to invent a new kind of gas or energy source — there are endless possibilities.
Guest post by Fernando, a youth from Ecuador
I am a young Ecuadorian involved in the projects executed by Federation of Community Organizations of Imbabura, which are sponsored and funded by ChildFund Ecuador.
One of the Federation projects is “Productive Initiatives,” which helps young people develop skills and prepare for the future. We have learned to make bracelets and rings using different materials. We are growing the program to involve more youth and even teach these skills to our families, as a way to earn extra income.
We are planning an open house in one of the most important universities of the area, where we will have the opportunity to show and sell our products.
It is important to mention that with the opportunity given to us to participate in projects like this, many of us, and especially me, have paid for our studies.
We hope in the future to put our knowledge in practice and make this a big business, which hires employees.
Guest post by Fatoumatta, age 20, The Gambia
My dream in life is to be an economist and a child activist.
Being a child activist has been a dream since I was a kid. I had this dream because I surveyed life and the environment, and I came to a conclusion that children in particular have been traumatized in all aspects of their lives.
So that is why I decided that I have to be a child activist — to at least fight the issues that are happening in our environment. I’m talking about a child not being sent to school or being raped, and how those things are affecting children in our environment.
So I deem it necessary to be a person to at least make their voices to be heard. At times, I do go to their compounds and make surveys, and I find out that a child has been traumatized. So I do advocate with the parents about how to implement the right things to do.
Also being an economist is my dream because I love economics, ever since I was in senior secondary school. I studied it and am still studying it. My dream is to have a master’s degree, and that is what I am working on right now.
I do not want a car or a house; I just want to finish my education with a master’s degree in economics.
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
Didn’t it feel good to count down to a brand new year last weekend and welcome 2011?
Here at ChildFund, we’re entering our own final countdown in the 100 Days of Yes campaign that concludes Jan. 21. You may recall that we launched this special event last October in our quest to gain thousands of new sponsors for children who live in poverty here in the U.S. and across the world.
We’ve had an exciting 84 days thus far, with several thousand people saying “yes” to child sponsorship. And although we’ve had a respectable number of 100+ sponsor days, we’ve not hit our goal of 100 new sponsors every day. So for the final 16 days of the campaign, we’re asking for your help to sponsor a child and also get the word out about children like Flavio from Ecuador and Dawit from Ethiopia, whose lives can improve for just $28 a month.
With your support, we know that we can welcome 100 new sponsors daily now through Jan. 21. Think of it as the ultimate New Year’s challenge — guiding your friends and family toward a resolution they can stick to — to make a tangible difference in the life of one child.
Thousands of children enrolled in ChildFund programs are eagerly awaiting a sponsor—a person who’s on their side, giving them a lift up so they can become healthy, gain an education and become self-sufficient in the world.
As ChildFund enters the final countdown of the 100 Days of Yes, won’t you help bring in a brand new life for a child who’s always heard “no”? Resolve to say “yes” this year.
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
One of the best parts of my job at ChildFund is working with colleagues in our Africa, Americas and Asia offices. This year we’ve been collaborating on activities to capture the voices of children. By listening carefully, we are hearing remarkable things that will help shape our programs in the future.
In Timor Leste, we asked children who live in a village near Liquica to share their thoughts on various subjects. Youth leaders scattered questions on the floor, and then walked the children around, recording their responses:
I want to build a school with enough chairs and desks.
I need pens and books to study for the future.
I am happy when I can play.
I like stories which let me understand more about our history.
— Amandio, 13
I like to play at school.
I want to become a teacher in the future.
I want to study hard to help bring our country forward.
The last time I laughed was when a friend told me a joke.
I don’t like the poor condition of my school.
I would like to become a teacher to teach people to become smart.
If I could meet with the Prime Minister, I would ask for clean water, as now I have to carry water far to my house.
When I grow up and become smart, I would like to help develop my village.
In past years I was unhappy, because I hadn’t started school yet.
Good stories are the ones that make me laugh.
At home, my dad tells me to do lots of work, and I worry about that.
I think a lot about studying for my future.
I like hearing funny stories.
My favorite place is the football field.
A place I don’t like is narrow rooms in the house.
I would like to become a policeman.
I don’t like to see people who are sick.
I think a lot about school, because I want to be educated.
I like telling funny stories.
When I was 5, I was unhappy because I couldn’t go to school.
If I could, I would like to build a new school and a new road in my village.
I like playing football in front of the school because we don’t have a proper field.
I like to tell ghost stories.
I think a lot about studying.
I would like to become a doctor, to give treatment to sick people.
Even in the midst of extreme poverty and exclusion, children are hopeful and earnest about finding a way forward. That’s the reason for ChildFund’s 100 Days of Yes campaign — so many children await the sponsorship support they need to “grow up and become smart.” Won’t you say “yes?”
Guest post by Dan Tearpock, ChildFund Sponsor
For nearly 17 years, I have had the greatest pleasure to be a sponsor, a padrino to a number of special children through ChildFund International. From a little girl in Mexico to a special child in South Dakota, I have dedicated both time and money to change the lives of children in need, one child at a time. The future of our planet depends on the children of today.
Too many children around the world live in poverty and broken homes. They are in need of vital medical services, as well as a sound education. Education is one of the key, intrinsic factors required to free a child from the bonds of poverty. Education can provide the tools for children to advance emotionally and economically from their current position of deprivation to one of hope, promise and a brighter future.
Child sponsorship is really a two-way street. I, for one, have found that working through ChildFund to help deprived, vulnerable and excluded children provides a sound benefit to the children and a rewarding experience for me. A sponsor’s degree of participation in this program, and with their sponsored children, is limited only by the sponsor’s level of desired involvement. On one end of the spectrum, sponsors can send in their monthly donation and leave it at that. On the opposite end of the spectrum, sponsors can exchange letters and pictures with their sponsored children, send gifts, provide for special medical needs such as braces, and even visit the children, either through a ChildFund study tour or on their own by working with ChildFund staff.
It’s difficult to describe what it is like to visit my sponsored children in their home environment, meet their families, exchange smiles and photographs and celebrate special days such as Christmas or a child’s birthday. I can assure you that besides the many smiles that everyone shares, there are many tears of joy in seeing each sponsored child, as well as tears of sadness when it is time to part.
I have visited many of my sponsored children both through study tours and on my own through arrangements by ChildFund. Each experience is a special moment in time, not only for the children, but for me as well. There are few experiences in life that can compare to time spent with my sponsored children.
There is no doubt that ChildFund is truly helping children in its programs, as well as their families, to combat the many hardships that an impoverished life has unfortunately cradled upon them. From medical services to a hardy breakfast, from after-school care to computer training, from needed education to a loving sponsor, ChildFund provides a light of hope for many children who might have no other source of survival.
Become a sponsor—experience the feeling—and save a child!
Guest post by Shauntay Hinton, former sponsored child
Last week I had an opportunity to do something I’ve always prided myself in doing — getting people to say “yes!” At a meeting of Kiwanis Club Division 25 leadership council in Chatsworth, Calif., I was invited to tell my story of growing up as a sponsored child. I also hoped to give them another reason to foster a partnership with ChildFund.
The meeting was held at Los Toros Mexican restaurant (which has the most divine chili bean and cheese dip, btw!), and the place was jumping with football fans, first dates and family gatherings.
I was introduced to the Kiwanis Council leaders — parents, teachers, retired entrepreneurs — all volunteering their time on a Monday evening with the common goal of making a noise in the name of serving children of the world.
And as soon as the gavel hit the table, I knew there wouldn’t be a dull moment during this meeting!
As Nick Montano, VP of the division council, led the group through the agenda, there was enthusiastic banter back and forth: “How do we convince new members to get involved? How do we show them tangible proof that their commitment makes a difference here? Who’s going to decorate for the year-end holiday party — last year it looked rushed and bare!”
It was quite encouraging to see volunteers so passionately engaged in making a difference in their own communities. Just as one of the members stepped up to guarantee that this year’s holiday party committee would turn out decorations rivaled only by Rockefeller Plaza, the gavel hit again, and ChildFund was next up. Showtime!
I was given a lovely introduction by ChildFund Western Region development officer, and good friend of mine, Athena Boulgarides. My goal was simple: stand before the Kiwanis members as living proof of the power of ChildFund’s efforts in local communities right here in the United States.
No matter where I go in life — whether it’s meeting the President in the Oval Office, ringing the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange or gathering with concerned volunteers in Los Toros — I have to take a moment to marvel at how far this daughter of a single-parent school teacher has come from the sticks of Starkville, Miss.
Then after I get over myself, I make sure I tell anyone interested in what I have to say that I wouldn’t be standing before them as a former Miss USA had it not been for the early opportunity to express myself on stage in plays produced by Brickfire Project, a community outreach development program and affiliate of ChildFund.
During the Q&A, one of the Kiwanis members asked, “Is there any other way to connect with a sponsored child other than just through letters and pictures?” I was happy to tell them that ChildFund encourages hands-on sponsorship involvement by service organizations working with ChildFund on initiatives like the Brickfire Project in Starkville. That answer garnered a few smiles and head nods, and I felt I had maybe helped to connect the dots.
The meeting ended with two pledges to sponsor a child through ChildFund! As a matter of fact, I’m still beaming as I write this blog. On the 33rd day of ChildFund’s 100 Days of Yes campaign, the Kiwanis Club, Athena and I had gotten two more children closer to their chance to stand tall as living proof of how ChildFund makes a difference in local communities here in the United States and around the world!
Shauntay Hinton, a former Miss USA, is a television host and correspondent who has contributed to lifestyle and entertainment programming for King World Productions, Fox Sports, Lifetime and Twentieth Television.
For many U.S. children, the gap between the storied American dream and the hard reality of their day-to-day lives seems unbridgeable. The current economic crisis is creating even more pressure on already struggling families as they seek to feed, clothe and shelter their children.
Just as ChildFund is committed to improving the lives of children in other countries, we’ve also been at work for more than 50 years in America. Our work has taken us to some of the most impoverished U.S. communities, assisting children and families from diverse populations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.
Statistics from these states are sobering:
ChildFund partners with affiliate grassroots organizations that have an intimate understanding of the local community and the needs of children. Our programs are focused on early childhood development, after-school and summer enrichment activities, youth engagement and leadership, cultural arts and restoration of cultural identity, preventive health education and activities, and also parent education to help promote healthy child development.
Yet, more help is needed to break the cycle of poverty in our own backyard.
The cost to sponsor a child in the U.S. is $35 per month, (a bit higher than for other countries in which ChildFund works due to higher costs of providing services here at home).
For more information about U.S. child sponsorship, call 800-776-6767, or visit the child sponsorship section of our website. Do a search under “USA.” (FYI: We don’t show online photographs of U.S. children to protect their privacy and ensure their safety).
Many children in the U.S. are waiting for you to say “yes” to sponsorship.
by Virginia Sowers, Community Manager
As part of ChildFund’s 100 Days of Yes initiative, we’re inviting sponsors — old and new — to post a photo of their sponsored child to the ChildFund Facebook page. If you have a photo of yourself with your sponsored child, even better. Be sure to include a comment as to why you said “yes” to child sponsorship, and share your post with your Facebook friends.
The Facebook gallery is part of our larger campaign seeking 100 sponsors each day for the next 100 days. So many children are waiting, and 24,000 are dying each day from preventable causes.
Sponsorship costs $28 a month — less than $1 a day. To a child living in poverty, it is a world of difference.
All sponsors who post a photo to the 100 Days of Yes gallery and “like” ChildFund on Facebook will be entered into a random drawing for a ChildFund polo shirt and wristband in mid-November.
Two additional Facebook events will follow with opportunities to engage with other supporters and win prizes. So be sure to visit ChildFund’s Facebook page often during the 100 days. You’ll find a terrific community of fellow sponsors and supporters.