By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
Social media can be a mixed blessing. It’s easier to stay in touch with friends and relatives today, but status posts, tweets and pictures also can add distraction to our lives. The other day, though, we experienced a pure blessing on ChildFund’s Facebook page.
A few weeks ago, Nicole Duciaume, regional sponsorship manager for the Americas, visited some of ChildFund Mexico’s programs. She met Guadalupe (whose nickname is Lupita), who works with one of our local partner organizations, often helping children write letters to their sponsors. Lupita was a sponsored child herself in Oaxaca, and she spoke fondly about her sponsor family from Oklahoma, the Talberts. More than 20 years after their sponsorship began, Lupita has kept the letters and photos from the family. (Click here to see a video of Lupita telling her story.)
As we do with many stories on the blog, we promoted it on Facebook. Usually we get a few dozen likes, a comment or two and perhaps a question about how to sponsor. The day that Lupita’s blog post went up, though, we received an unexpected message in the comments from Janice Talbert, who spotted the photo of her former sponsored child!
“This is so AMAZING,” Janice wrote. “I am so THRILLED to see LUPITA…she was OUR sponsored child. Of course, I had no doubt she would give back to her community. She wrote lovely letters to us for many years and then when we met her, she was warm, vivacious, bubbly and enthusiastic.”
Both Janice and Lupita still remember favorite letters they exchanged. Lupita’s was a letter she received on her 15th birthday, a cultural milestone for Mexican girls called the Quinceañera, marking the girl’s entrance into womanhood. Her family didn’t have money for a fancy dress or a big party, but the Talberts wrote that in their eyes she was still important.
Janice recalls the concerned letters that Lupita and another Mexican child they sponsored, Juan, wrote after Sept. 11, 2001, asking if her family was safe after the terrorists’ attacks. Janice says that her family, too, has kept every letter and drawing that Lupita and Juan made for them.
I had a chance to talk to Janice about her family’s 2005 trip to Oaxaca, when she visited Lupita and Juan.
At that point, Lupita was in high school, and the Talberts had sponsored her since she was 4 years old. They had been hoping to make the trip to see her and Juan for quite a while, and the timing worked out well. ChildFund Mexico’s national office helped arrange the visit, and Janice recalls riding in a white van for hours. Lupita’s town was quite a ways from Oaxaca’s capital, but the landscape was beautiful.
Near Lupita’s home was a canyon circled by jacaranda trees that were blooming during their visit. Lupita’s family warmly welcomed the Talberts, and they had a great visit to Lupita’s school, church and neighborhood. “It was amazing to meet her,” Janice recalls. “We’d get a picture once a year, and she was always serious in the pictures, but she smiled a lot in person.”
Lupita remembers the visit fondly: “My family and I were very excited about the visit, and we planned the food that we were going to bring them. When the date of the visit arrived, I made a sign. Then we showed them the local partner’s facilities and some activities we have there. What is most important is that I had the joy of meeting them.”
The Talberts also formed a close bond with Juan’s family. Janice recalls the tough conditions in which his family lived – a home with a dirt floor, and a single source of electricity coming through a long, orange extension cord. Janice and her family took Juan to see the nearby Mayan ruins; he had never had the chance to visit this historical site.
The families were generous hosts and very proud of their heritage. “At that point, my Spanish was really bad,” Janice says with a laugh. “The people from Mexico are so warm and helpful. When you butcher their language, they still compliment you.”
Today, since Lupita and Juan have completed ChildFund’s programs, Janice’s family sponsors two younger children from Oaxaca. She hopes that one day she’ll hear from Juan as well, whom we learned is still living in Mexico and working at an optician’s office. He still plays soccer in his spare time, a love that has carried on from childhood.
For Janice, the excitement of learning that both of her formerly sponsored children are doing well and leading happy lives has been an unexpected blessing.
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
We’re pleased to announce that ChildFund Alliance (the global coalition formed by ChildFund International and 11 affiliates) is a finalist in the MY World People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the United Nations MY World Global Survey. The survey asks people to identify changes that would make the world a better place.
Because this is a people’s choice prize, we need votes! Please take a moment to vote for ChildFund Alliance, and then invite your Facebook friends to do the same. Voting closes at midnight EDT on Sept. 17, and the winner will be announced at an event in New York on Sept. 25.
The ChildFund Alliance created a child-friendly version of the survey and conducted more than 50 focus-group interviews with children, providing data to the U.N. To promote children’s engagement in the survey, the Alliance also organized a conference with more than 50 countries represented.
The MY World Awards recognize the work of organizations that have helped spread the word about the survey, which allows people to express their views about global priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. More than 850,000 people in 194 countries have participated, and the number is expected to top 1 million by the end of the month.
Thanks for voting!
Last week, to build awareness around World Water Day, ChildFund asked its social media supporters to take to Twitter and inform their followers on the issues of water insecurity for children around the world. Today, we’re excited to announce the winners of our World Water Day tweet-out and share the five most inspirational tweets. The top tweeter and four runners-up will receive water-related Gifts of Love & Hope sent in their honor.
Hockey Chick @ChicksDigHockey
Water is life. Clean water impacts health, happiness and intellect. @ChildFund can show you how to save lives. #Water4Children #GiftOfLife
@ChicksDigHockey will have a 1,000 liter water tank delivered in their honor to a family in Mexico (valued at $190).
Confetti ❤ @confettilove_
No matter if the glass is 1/2 empty or full… it needs to be clean! #worldwaterday #Water4Children
#Children just like our kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren do not have clean #water. Together we can help #Water4Children #WorldWaterDay
STARS Foundation @STARSFdn
It seems (clean) water is more than just the source of life; it’s the source of health, education and dignity too. #waterday #Water4Children
Aksel Kibar @TechCharts
While we drink bottled water, some children around the world don’t even have access to tap water. Let’s give #Water4Children
We will deliver an apple tree seedling and a watering can to five children in Ethiopia in honor of @confettilove_, @WASHadvocates, @STARSFdn, and @TechCharts.
Thank you to all those who participated! We appreciate your help in informing others on the critical necessity of clean water for children.
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
It’s World Malaria Day. But instead of launching into a litany of statistics, I’ll just share one hard fact: a child is dying this very minute—every minute—from this disease. And that just shouldn’t be.
Malaria is preventable. Malaria is treatable.
“In the past 10 years, increased investment in malaria prevention and control has saved more than a million lives,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. “This is a tremendous achievement. But we are still far from achieving universal access to life-saving malaria interventions.”
So you may be asking, “What can I do as just one person?”
Buy an insecticide-treated mosquito net from ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope for a child who doesn’t have one. And then ask your friends on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube to buy one, too. You may inspire a movement. At the very least, you’ll raise awareness.
A mosquito net costs $11. And you could be helping a child like 5-year-old Francis from Uganda.
Or, taking a worry off the shoulders of a mother like Margaret, who lives in Zambia.
Just for today, World Malaria Day, I invite you to take a swing at the statistics. Use your social media clout to knock back malaria one child at a time.
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
Congratulations to ChildFund Facebook fans:
In honor of the seven winners, we’ve sent an educational gift (a school uniform and/or school supplies) to a child in each of the seven countries featured in the photo album.
You’ll find photos of the children on ChildFund’s Facebook page. Their stories are touching.
Anmol, which in Hindi means precious, is enrolled in St. Anthony’s Orphanage Project in New Delhi, India. She received a school supply kit.
Brenda attends a child-friendly school in the remote and rural Honduran community of Sabana Ronda. Her grade point average last year was 94 percent. She received a new uniform and shoes along with some school supplies, notebooks and materials for arts and crafts.
Keli, who participates in ChildFund’s U.S. programs in Oklahoma, received much-needed school supplies and arts and crafts items.
Thilan, enrolled in Lanka Taiwan Children’s Program in Sri Lanka, was the recipient of a new school uniform.
Elise, whose family was forced to flee armed conflict and relocate to Ziguinchor, Senegal, now has educational supplies her parents couldn’t afford.
Irene, who participates in Kenya’s Kerwa Child and Family program, loves her new school uniform. She attends in PCEA Ruthigiti Academy.
Jenipher, whose parents are subsistence farmers in Zambia, has never owned proper school shoes or a uniform until now. She comes from a family of four children, and the family was overjoyed to receive the gift for Jenipher.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Facebook promotion and for telling others about ChildFund’s work with children in 31 countries.
by Lee Steinour, Communications Assistant
Your tweets can help send a girl to school!
Starting today, March 5, and continuing through International Women’s Day on March 8 (5 p.m. EST), ChildFund is inviting its Twitter followers to tweet out on critical issues related to girls and women.
In developing countries, child marriage derails as many as 10 million girls a year from achieving their potential as women.
Lack of access to quality health care is another obstacle for girls and women who live in poverty.
And, in many countries, education for girls is a low priority or not available at all.
At ChildFund, we believe the healthy development of girls is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty. When girls have a secure childhood, they grow up to be strong women who lead positive change in their communities.
To mark International Women’s Day, we’re asking ChildFund’s Twitter fans to help build awareness around issues critical to women by tweeting and retweeting posts.
Please use the hashtag #girls2women in each Twitter post. If we reach 200 tweets and retweets in four days, we’ll honor our Twitter followers by providing a one-year educational scholarship to a girl in one of ChildFund’s projects.
Invite your friends to get involved by retweeting your posts and creating their own woman- and girl-focused tweets.
Need help with tweet ideas?
How about answering the question: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Or, send out some of these suggested tweets:
Happy tweeting, and remember to use the #girls2women hashtag. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
The chance to travel across the world to meet a sponsored child doesn’t happen all that often for ChildFund supporters. Most faithfully write letters and exchange photos with children and their families for years, but few have the chance to meet face to face.
David Levis of Citrus Heights, Calif., now has that opportunity.
David is the grand prize winner of the Experience of a Lifetime promotion, that ran on ChildFund’s Facebook site this summer. He and his wife, Stacie, sponsor 13 children in ChildFund programs. Five of the children live in Uganda, which is where David, a California school teacher, plans to travel.
“ChildFund has become part of our family, even to the extent that our three young children have become involved in writing letters and saving change to go toward buying cows for some of our families,” David says. “This has changed their perspectives on the world.”
David’s trip with ChildFund to Uganda will take place next April over spring break. And it’s an experience he looks forward to bringing home to his family and students. “Seeing the five children we sponsor in Uganda will help me better understand the complexities faced by their families,” he says. “I plan to share this firsthand information to help teach my students about the importance of global citizenship, and how they too can look for ways to help people around the world.”
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
We love sharing children’s photos, videos and stories on ChildFund’s social media sites, but we know there’s nothing like seeing the real thing.
Current sponsors and study tour participants who visit ChildFund projects around the globe return home with an expanded understanding of how poverty affects children and how one person truly can make a positive impact in a child’s life.
Inspired by their travels, they tell friends and colleagues about the experience and the work ChildFund is doing. And that helps bring new sponsors for children who are waiting.
That’s why we’re excited to launch a special promotion that begins on ChildFund’s Facebook site today and runs through June 30. One lucky winner will travel off the beaten path to see our programs in action. The four-day escorted tour will provide a firsthand view of how ChildFund is helping children around the world.
Wouldn’t you like to be the fan who wins the “Experience of a Lifetime” — a visit to see your sponsored child? Or, if you win and are not a sponsor, you’ll have a chance to tour a ChildFund program in the Americas, Africa or Asia.
Entry is easy: “Like” ChildFund on Facebook and complete a simple entry pass. You’ll also need 10 friends to “like” ChildFund on Facebook and support your quest by nominating you to win. Once you get the support of 10 friends, you’re officially entered. Every friend in addition to your first 10 earns you another entry in our random drawing. So the more friends you sign up, the greater your chances to make the finals! (Must be 18 and a U.S. resident of the lower 48 states to enter.)
You have until June 30 to complete your entry. Five finalists will be randomly selected. Each finalist will then prepare a short statement as to why he or she should win the trip. We’ll then post those statements on Facebook, and one winner will be decided by popular vote.
Be sure to visit ChildFund’s Facebook page to enter the promotion. You could win the Experience of a Lifetime and make a difference in a child’s life!
Posters and billboards of ChildFund are popping up around the country. And we need your help in locating them.
The posters are showing up in malls and airports (one was spotted at LAX) and the billboards are currently in the Richmond, Va., area.
When you spot one, be sure to snap a photo of it. Even better, have someone take your picture standing beside the poster and upload it to our Facebook wall or Tweet us (@ChildFund) the photo link. Be among the first 100 people to send in a photo and get a ChildFund wristband.
Be sure to include your name and location. We’ll feature the “Where’s ChildFund?” photos on our social media sites to generate more discussion about the critical needs of children globally.
It’s all part of a public service campaign now under way to raise awareness of ChildFund and the work we do to change the lives of children living in poverty.
Will you help us make the world better for children? It can start with a simple photo to increase awareness of the work we do every day.
by Virginia Sowers, Community Manager
Our child sponsors are an amazing group of globally focused citizens who make a huge difference in the lives of children they support through ChildFund. They are making positive things happen in families and communities every day by supporting children’s health, nutrition, education and well being.
The truth is that we need more sponsors just like them.
Right now, more than 100,000 children live in areas where ChildFund works but lack a one-to-one relationship with a sponsor who writes to them and paves the way for a brighter future through financial and emotional support.
So starting this month, ChildFund is committing to working even harder to tell these children’s stories to people like you who want to take meaningful action. There is no better way to have a lasting impact on the future than to help a child escape the grip of poverty.
For the next several weeks, we’re going to take the ChildFund story to places like Chico and Redding, Calif.; Gainesville, Ft. Myers and Naples, Fla.; Providence, R.I.; New Bedford, Mass.; Rochester and Austin, Minn.; Mason City, Iowa; Albany, Schenectady and Troy, N.Y.; and Milwaukee, Wis.
If you live in these cities, or know someone who does, you’ll be discovering more about ChildFund through TV, radio and newspaper promotions. We’re also inviting a little friendly social media competition among people tweeting and posting on Facebook and blogs from these cities.
Wouldn’t it be terrific if your metropolitan area gained the highest number of new ChildFund sponsors by the time this campaign wraps up in September? Wouldn’t it be incredible to play a vital role in greatly reducing the number of children awaiting sponsors?
You can help make it happen by spreading the word about ChildFund’s One Child a Day campaign through Twitter, Facebook and blog posts and inviting members of your social networks to consider sponsoring a child at just $28 a month.
When tweeting, please be sure to use the Twitter hashtags we’ve developed to track the campaign in each metropolitan market:
Throughout the campaign, we’ll use this blog, Facebook and Twitter to provide fun facts about these great cities, answer frequently asked questions about child sponsorship and issue updates on our goal to welcome at least one new ChildFund sponsor a day from each of these metropolitan areas.
Will you help us get started? We need to spread the word that anyone can change the world — simply by helping one child at a time.