By David Hylton
Public Relations Specialist
To kick off this blog series, which will crisscross the globe during the month of October, we start in our own backyard. One of the biggest myths about ChildFund International is that we only help children overseas. That couldn’t be more wrong. We’ve been providing aid to U.S. children for more than 50 years. In fact, our programs in the United States reach some of the poorest counties in Mississippi, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas.
In the U.S., we collaborate with grassroots organizations that have an intimate understanding of the local community and the needs of the children and families. ChildFund and its partners focus on programs such as physical fitness, diabetes prevention, after-school care, computer skills training, youth councils and neighborhood revitalization.
One of our U.S. success stories comes from former sponsored child Joe Brings Plenty in South Dakota. He is now a tribal chairman and a leading advocate for ChildFund’s programs that began in 2008 at the Cheyenne River Reservation.
“I want the youth today to have the experiences that I had,” he says. As evidence, he shows visitors a photo of himself as a boy wearing a red sweater. The photo was taken during his community choir’s visit to a local prison. As a choir performer, he was instructed to wear “something nice.” The red sweater, a gift from his ChildFund sponsor, was the only nice thing he owned. It was also the only Christmas gift he received that year.
Years later, Joe continues to be touched by what the sweater represented to him as a child growing up on a reservation. For him, the sweater is a symbol that people care about Indian issues and that they share the same values of compassion and generosity.
More on the U.S.
Population: 304 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 58,000 children and families
Did You Know?: The first “American Indian Day” was declared by the State of New York in 1916, but a month-long recognition of American Indians was not achieved until 1990. Native American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated in November.
Next in our “31 in 31” series: Meet a kite maker in Indonesia