This has been a rough year for us regarding our sponsor children. We have had three children leave their programs and two we have been forced to drop due to inadequate sponsor interaction from the program. (In my opinion... if you are not hearing from the child OR sponsor program, it's time to move on to sponsoring thru a more responsible organization.)
Sintayehu from Compassion left the program early (she had about 8 more months she could have participated). Very shortly after that, my favorite Compassion "writing buddy" - Sundar from India - lost his sponsor and became available for us to take over.
And just a few days ago I learned that little Ruth and Jackson from Kenya's Kids In Need (KKIN) have not returned to school. So we are in the process of working with the directors to sponsor two new children.
Thomas from Uganda was dropped by us because outside of the initial letter when we started the sponsorship, we never heard anything from him or the program for almost a year and a half. Other people we know who sponsored children at the same event also have expressed dissatisfaction with how the sponsor program is handled.
We also had to stop sponsoring Jenifa from Kenya. There were far too many inconsistencies to be comfortable with the sponsorship. This was awfully hard because she is one of the children we visited on our trip to Kenya in '06. We plan on taking on another Maasai girl thru Compassion to fill the empty spot she has left.
Over about 25 years we have sponsored children thru about 7 different programs; from large well-known organizations to small grassroots programs. In that time we have decided that the important factors for us to have in a sponsorship program is first accountability. Is my sponsorship fee going to what I have been told it will cover? How are my questions answered and are they answered quickly?
Another big question is: Does the sponsorship program teach the children skills they need to break the cycle of poverty they are living in?
Personal contact with the child is vital for us. We are doing this to make a difference in the life of a child...not just to fund a program. Not only do we want to be able to write the child, we want to hear back from him or her! We want to build a relationship.
We have found a good fit with the child sponsorship programs by Compassion International ( http://www.compassion.com/ ) and Kenya's Kids In Need (http://www.galileeschool.org/ ).
So at this moment - we have 4 sponsor kids. Ivine from Kenya (KKIN) who is about 17 yrs old and in Form 3 (US grade 11). Then thru Compassion we have Mwayi from Tanzania who is 14 yrs old, Ntikoisa from Kenya who is 12 years old and Sundar from India who is 8 yrs old.
I'm looking forward to getting to know the 4 children we will be adding by the end of the year!