When I was backpacking through Central America, I took some time to visit my sponsor child, Danny, in a regional area of Honduras. Danny is one of two children that I sponsor through a global NGO, and for many years, we’ve exchanged birthday and Christmas cards, and he has sent me cute drawings and photos of himself and his family.
It’s often quite difficult to fathom the impact of your money when you donate to these global organisations. The television ads often show malnourished children dressed in rags, and then, thanks to your donations, these kids are transformed, hugging their siblings with huge white smiles. In addition, there are just so many charities wooing you (and your money) with these charming, smiling children, and then other charities supporting environmental, medical, refugee, or homeless causes – it’s obvious that you can’t help them all. You just have to pick the cause that’s closest to your heart or appeals to your values.
I choose to give money to support those living in poverty in developing countries because they don’t have the privilege, as we do, of access to first class health care, education, and employment opportunities. I was eager to see for myself the work that my money was helping to finance, and the way that it improved the lives of Danny, his family, and his community.
I was the very first sponsor to visit Danny’s community project, which is entirely financed by Australian sponsors. Danny is 7 years old and lives with his parents and 3 brothers in a house that sponsorship money helped to build. He was extremely shy at first, but smiled broadly when I gave him and his family gifts of a World Cup football and Honduras team caps, and a big jar of lollies – a treat that I’m sure would be well appreciated by all the boys!
I was taken around his community and shown the amazing work that the project had been undertaking with the help of sponsorship money – building wells for drinking water, building a community centre, installing pipes to take away grey water, building more secure and robust housing (rather than mud brick houses), planting trees to stop erosion in the area, and promoting young people as mentors to encourage leadership in the community. I definitely felt that my sponsorship money has made a world of difference already to the lives of the people in the area, and with my newly acquired Spanish language skills, I was able to converse with Danny’s family and they expressed their gratitude for the funds that Australian sponsors have donated to improve the quality of life of their community.
We had a typical Honduran meal for lunch in the community centre – carne asada (roasted beef), beans and plantains – and afterwards I treated the family to ice cream and popsicles at the local ice cream parlour. During an emotional farewell, I promised that I would come back to visit Danny and see the further improvements that the project would undertake for the benefit of his family and his community.
It was a very memorable and special day for me, and allowed me to see with my own eyes the huge changes and benefits that sponsorship development can bring to a community. Where they would have been disadvantaged with lack of clean drinking water, proper sanitation or community leadership, my sponsorship money has contributed to a better way of life for people in developing countries.