www.whyville.net Apr 3, 2005 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Are We Really Helping?

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As you all probably know, Easter has just ended. Easter is one of my favorite times of the year, because my family goes camping.

One night this year, I had nothing better to do than to sit with my parents and their friends and listen to their conversations. I learned that night that the many "sponsor a child" programs all over the world can sometimes be dangerous for the third-world towns that have children that are sponsored by these programs.

These villages normally exist in a very careful balance -- unlike most Western cultures, they share most of their belongings. When a child is picked for sponsorship, however, the balance is broken because that child is given education, while the rest remain starving and poor. While many of these programs really do help the child financially, the fact is, the child has been singled out in their village.

If your family sponsors a child (I know my family does) and then your family is suddenly put out of a job and you can no longer send money to the program, the child then is immediately taken out of education because the programs do not have back-up plans. The child is then forced back into their old life, and sometimes will not be accepted back because the others in the village may have been made to feel inferior while the child was being sponsored. Holding a 'grudge' like this against the child is not uncommon, according to my parents.

I am not saying that it is a bad thing to support a child; in some cases it is excellent for the village and the child, depending on the program. I am saying, however, that it would be better to buy a goat for a village, or send over school supplies, even buy seeds for crops, etc. Doing something for the whole village would mean more than for just one child.

This year, for Christmas, instead of buying presents that will most likely be put away in the cupboard after a week or so, the adults in my family's circle of friends will not recieve a present, but instead will each buy a goat for a village.

I hope you all had a happy Easter, and may your Christmases be full of goats! :)

Editor's Note: A fascinating perspective, SallyBabe! I hope someone will do some research on this story to see if in fact the sponsored children in these programs do indeed face such discrimination and troubles if their sponsorship is ended. And maybe somebody could help us figure out how to sponsor a goat for a village... that may sound silly, but I actually mean it seriously. How would such a program work?


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