Todays post is written by one of my cousins, Caren Carter (check out her blog here). I was very excited for two reasons when she offered to write a guest post: 1) because I like my cousins and am honored and touched that she would want to write for me and 2) because she suggested that she should write about my uncle’s orphanage… something I didn’t know existed!.
When the article arrived in my inbox, I couldn’t have been more pleased with it. This is Caren writing from her heart and sharing some of her true feelings about this vital issue. Thank you, Caren, for sharing this with us. You’re awesome!
Until a few years ago, child sponsorship wasn’t something I felt at all passionate about; I was cynical about how much of my money would actually reach the child concerned, by the time the charity had taken its administration costs out of my donation. A brief Google search today suggests that around 15% of donations to many charities is swallowed up by administration/fundraising costs.
I’ve also feared that money might be diverted by local officials and used for something unrelated to child welfare. I watch shows like Children in Need and various charity appeal commercials featuring the large, pitiful eyes of starving children and always find a reason not to pick up the phone, no matter how desperate the plight.
To be honest, I also suffer from ‘famine saturation’; in the past twenty years there has been one desperate appeal, closely followed another, often several appeals at the same time, sadly. In my mind, Africa seemed like a situation which was beyond help, was there really any point making a donation?
Things changed about 10 years ago, when my Dad, Rev. Roger Carter started taking trips to Kenya and then built an orphanage and clinic in Magina (9hrs drive from Nairobi) five years ago, on land donated by a Kenyan family.
I would politely look at the photos after each trip and listen to him talking about the work he had done, but wasn’t immediately inspired to sponsor a child. It was some years later when I saw pictures of the completed site and read his 3rd or so newsletter that I felt driven to set up a monthly standing order to sponsor a child.
The photo that impressed me most was of a workshop where the boys could learn skills like carpentry with a view to earning a living one day. I could see that Dad had put so much thought into ensuring that the boys would have a better future, rather than just providing them with a bed and food.
Another thing which persuaded me to support the work Dad does in Kenya, is the certainty that every single penny I donate reaches the orphanage and benefits the children there. If I donate £5 ($7.50) for hens or £50 ($75) for a bicycle, that is exactly what the money is spent on; I don’t think there are many charities which make a promise like that, it’s a principle Roger stands by and refuses to be swayed from. I really like that about his charity.
After each trip he takes out there, I receive an e-mail reporting on latest progress at the orphanage, full of Dad’s forthright passion. Sometimes he mentions the next project he wants to work on, but never, ever actually requests money. I’m already giving what I can afford, I’m relieved that I don’t receive pressure for further donations. I would like to mention at this point that I cancelled support of 3 major charities in recent years because I was fed up with the increasing frequency of begging letters, accompanied with often disturbing images and information designed to guilt me into increasing my support. When it got to the point where I estimated that my donation was being spent purely on the mailings to ask me for more money, I decided enough was enough.
If you are thinking of sponsoring a child then I’d like to suggest that you consider a smaller charity such as the one my Dad runs (www.koko.org.uk), where you can be certain that every penny you donate will reach the children you want to support. In addition to providing a home for 10 boys, there is a clinic which provides a range of care for the local community (from childbirth, typhoid, malaria, ringworm, hook and tape worm and much more) and part of the 10 acre site is a farm with various crops, fruits and vegetables being grown to reduce the amount of food needing to be bought in. There are over 30 more boys who come at weekends only, who Dad would dearly love to give a full time home to, as soon as he finds more sponsors.
The site in Magina is a fantastic home with space for 50 boys, the only thing stopping it being full is the lack of enough supporters who appreciate that giving children a home requires a long-term commitment to safeguard the financial stability of the orphanage and therefore the children’s futures. If you can afford £15 ($25) per month, then you could become a much needed sponsor and provide one of the children on the waiting list with a home. If you can’t afford that much then why not buy a few hens or donate some of the old clothes that are cluttering up your closet?
In the run up to Christmas, it’s an ideal time to consider whether a charitable donation would be better than buying presents people don’t need or want (again!). You may even be feeling the pinch yourself this year and wishing you didn’t have to buy presents at all, but you will of course, because everyone else will be buying for you and you have to.
Why not save yourself the guilt and pressure this year and suggest that friends and family make a donation to charity instead of buying for you?