Why I Don’t Sponsor Children in Third World Countries

When I first moved into the house in St. Thomas, every company that has people canvasing descended on the area and tried to get us to sign up for various things. One of those people was one of those “sponsor a child in Africa” style companies. I ended up saying no, despite the person doing a great job at trying to pull on my heartstrings. In the end, he couldn’t come up with a proper rebuttal to the simple comment I had made: why support the people when the government is creating the situation to begin with.

Ever since I was a child, and probably long before that, I’ve been seeing these advertisements for sponsoring children in third world countries, and nothing has changed. The countries still have the same problems, require the same kind of aid, and we here in North America are still bombarded with advertising asking us to help children in other countries so that they can have a more reasonable life.

This frustrates me because it is the government that needs to support the people, and these countries already get millions of dollars in aid every year and isn’t used as effectively or efficiently as it probably could be.

If the government won’t take care of its people, then people have two choices, move or revolt. Governments of the world that want to help the citizens of countries that aren’t as well off should be willing and ready to support its people, not its government, and if people want to move or revolt, then that’s where our time and attention should be placed, not in feeding money into a system that never changes in hopes that the money will eventually fix the problem, even just for one child.

I think that people that donate to these causes are lazy. If they really believed that the children in third world countries deserve better than they would adopt them and bring them to the first world, or work with our governments to find ways to push social change through other governments.

People also have to try to remember that our own country has issues that could use money and attention paid to them. Before you try to save some child in another country by throwing money at the problem, maybe try that here at home first, as the solutions we try to provide for other countries, don’t always work as effectively as we’d hope.

Food subsidies have put farmers out of work in other countries, technology only serves to make its users more dependent on first world resources, and much of the money donated gets siphoned off at various levels thanks to greedy contractors, companies, advertising budgets, and even the people canvasing your neighborhoods.

3 comments

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  1. Barry

    I agree 100%. Sending money and aid to places like that doesn’t help if the money doesn’t get where it needs to go. If the root of the problem isn’t dealt with then all the money in the world wont change a damn thing.

  2. Leah

    I have seen firsthand the benefits of sponsoring children in developing nations – there is statistical evidence from an outside source (see the Journal of Political Economy – Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes, by Bruce Wydick a professor of international studies at the University of San Francisco. He researched 10,144 adults who had been sponsored as a child to find that sponsorship “significantly increased total years of schooling and completion rates across all levels of schooling”. “We also find positive and significant impacts on the probability of adult employment and movement into white collar jobs.” “Sponsored children exhibit significantly higher levels of self-esteem, aspirations and self-expectations and lower levels of hopelessness.” I think his findings speak volumes to the benefits of child sponsorship.

    I don’t believe that you can determine if circumstances are the same before sponsorship and after sponsorship without talking to people who were sponsored. It is vital to see that just because a developing nation is not making improvements comparable to a first world nation, that to assume that they are not progressing at all is premature and simplistic. Please do some research into the benefits that sponsorship provides the children, their families and their villages – it is profound. I hope you will reconsider your position.

    • Malcolm Peralty

      Hi Leah, I totally appreciate what you are saying and I will definitely have to do more research on the subject as the original post was based on my perception and not any real education or deep insights.

      I do want to say though that my original thought which is that “individual child sponsorship is probably not the right answer”, is still how I feel, even eight years later. I am sure it does great things for those that receive it, but what about those that don’t? If we took all the funds that have been given to those individual sponsorships, could we have put pressure on the local government to better take care of its people? Could we have seen international oversight to reduce corruption with regards to international aid funding so that it went to those that need it most?

      I don’t want to belittle those that take the time to help others financially and I shouldn’t have called them lazy in my original post. I believe that helping people is the right thing to do. My question is more about making sure we are using that financial assistance in both efficient and intelligent ways.

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