Why doesn’t Humanium support individual sponsorships ?
Individual sponsorship poses numerous problems, not only for the sponsored child, but also for the donor and the organization.
> The potential problems of an individual relationship between the child and their sponsor
The special nature of individual sponsorship is that it generates a personal relationship between donor and child. This relationship, while often viewed as beneficial for the child, can lead to expectations, on the part of both the child and the sponsor, which are impossible to meet. Unrealistic hopes can arise from both parties, and in turn the child runs the risk of becoming increasingly frustrated by their situation.
Individual sponsorship can also lead to serious problems for the child in the event of their sponsor’s disengagement. Should the sponsor decide to withdraw their support for personal reasons and should the organization be unable to find a replacement for that sponsor, then the child may, at some point in the future, find themself without any external assistance, and all previous efforts will have been in vain.
The influence of sponsors
Furthermore, sponsors may think that they have legal rights over the child or, at the very least, that they have the right to influence their personal and spiritual development. There exists, for instance, numerous organizations that call for the children whom they sponsor to receive spiritual instruction in keeping with the religious orientation of their sponsors.
Notwithstanding the attention paid by members of the NGO to the content of personal correspondences, letters exchanged between sponsor and child can be culturally inappropriate. In many cases, the letters being exchanged do not take into account the child’s social environment and thus generate cultural confusion for that child.
> Only the sponsored child receives assistance… which can create unintended consequences…
Envy and jealousy
Another inconvenience posed by an individual, nontransferable sponsorship is that it is directed exclusively towards a single child. As a result, other children who receive no assistance may become jealous. Those children who lack sponsors may feel that they are receiving no aid because they are unworthy of it, and their self-confidence may diminish. Moreover, inequalities in education can result, since teachers are likely to lavish their attention on sponsored children, and neglect the others. The sponsored child may develop feelings of guilt in respect to his unsponsored friends. Thus the approach unintentionally fosters inequality and prevents real and lasting change developing within a community.
In the case of individual sponsorship, the parents of the sponsored child may feel humiliated on account of their inability to provide for their own child’s needs, and take the view that a stranger has usurped the role that should be theirs. They may also feel frustrated that only one of their children is receiving aid and the remaining siblings can become jealous and envious. As a result, the sponsored child may find themself isolated from both their own family and friends.
Ineffectiveness of aid
Following the completion of his studies, the sponsored child is often unable to find employment corresponding to his training in his own village. Consequently, he is of no use to his village since he is obliged to look for work in the city. Indeed, if he chooses to remain in his village, he is likely to find himself frustrated at not being able to obtain work that is worthy of his efforts. Other children in the village may also be discouraged from continuing their education. In addition, sponsored children may feel obliged to pursue their studies in order to continue receiving assistance, even when it would be better for them and their families if they would learn a useful trade in their village and begin working during their adolescence.
> Individual sponsorship: A culture of dependence
The relationship between sponsor and child is often paternalistic in nature. In fact, the sponsor may seek to exercise a certain influence, indeed authority, over the child. Personal initiatives on the part of the child are not encouraged, and one remains in a situation of dependence where the “rich” help the “poor”. In most cases, the NGO requires that the child constantly send their sponsor letters of gratitude for the aid they have received. Hence, negative stereotypes, which portray Third World inhabitants as “passive” and “needy” people, are perpetuated.
An impediment to local initiatives
In the case of individual sponsorships, families are not encouraged to develop long-lasting initiatives for escaping poverty. Indeed, such “money from heaven” tends to discourage families from working. Individual sponsorship is, in reality, a form of aid that does not lead to long-term progress on the part of villages.
Individual sponsorship can engender envy and jealousy among the child’s friends and acquaintances; furthermore, it is often badly integrated at the social level and poses a problem in terms of its longevity.
Humanium is committed to respecting the ethics of child-protection and seeks to ensure a sponsorship that is long-lasting, effective and equitable.