Today I want to write to you about our child sponsorship program, about the children in the school and about the different kinds of sponsors that we have for our project. Obviously, a sponsor chooses a project that he likes, selects a charity that he thinks does good work and then donates. Sometimes however people have strange requests regarding their sponsorship.
Some people ask us whether they can adopt one of our children. We are not running an orphanage though. This is a primary school registered with the government and the children all live in their homes with their families, come in the morning and leave in the afternoon when their school classes are over. There are a few children who live at the Ashram but they, too, have families who come and visit them – they are just extremely poor and cannot afford to raise them on their own.
When someone sponsors one of our schoolchildren, he actually supports our complete charity. The money of the sponsorship of course helps us educating this child but those children who are not sponsored nevertheless come to our school daily and learn there. I explained in another blog entry that this means that we don’t let our schoolchildren know which of them is sponsored and which of them is not. In this way they don’t feel sad that they are not sponsored while others are. This also means that you cannot write letters personally only to your child – but you can write to the complete class!
We do understand however that for some people it is important to have a face, a symbol for their support. This is why we give them the option to select a certain child for sponsoring. There is a bit of information for every child online so people can choose.
There are many people however who don’t want to choose. They say they don’t want to ‘select’ a child as if they went shopping. We appreciate this attitude and simply give that sponsor a random child.
Some people say they want to sponsor any child but it should be a girl. This thought is understandable, as in India the female literacy rate is still much lower as the male, but as I wrote before, in our school about half of the students are boys and they need sponsors, too. So we are happy if you sponsor any child but hope that not everybody would only like to support girls, as these girls have brothers who want to learn, too.
Sometimes however people don’t think the information about the children on our webpage is enough for them to choose and that is why they write to us. Then we get a more specific description of the child that people would like to sponsor and it usually looks something like this: ‘I would like to sponsor a girl who is serious about her studies. She should be clever and good in English so that I can exchange letters with her. I want her to be interested in all topics and enjoy learning whatever the teachers give her. Of course you should guarantee that she should stay at your school at least the next six years. I will then pay for her higher studies and one day invite her to visit me here.’
When we see this kind of request, it really looks as though the person wanted to go shopping. So many requirements for a small child! Are you buying a product or do you want to help a child to get education? You have so many expectations even on a sponsored child that I have to wonder what expectations your own children face! It seems as though you are searching for India’s next Prime Minister!
The reality is that we do have girls and many of them are clever. Some are good in English and some will probably also stay at our school for longer. None of them however is interested in everything and enjoys learning everything and we cannot guarantee anything for their future. They are children! Think of yourself how it was when you were in school! Just the fact that they are poor and that someone helps them get education does not mean that they are little geniuses! They are just normal children!
And what about those who are mentally not as fit? Who would sponsor them if everybody had such expectations? We have some children who have learning difficulties, who are definitely slower in the mind than others or simply not capable of taking that much information in. Who would give for their education? Who would make it possible for them to learn reading and writing?
All of our children are from simple backgrounds where their parents are not able to support them much in their studies. As usual in any school, some children are quicker than others, some have more interest in languages and others in math or sciences. It is just normal.
So when you sponsor a child, please see that you do it for helping this child. If you want to write a letter, please write it to the whole class. If your reason for not sponsoring a child with us is because we don’t let you have personal contact with that child, it is fine for us. We don’t want others to feel neglected. And you cannot invite a whole school of children to visit you – so inviting one of them will not be good either. His or her parents would also never send their child – these children are small, their parents love them and they don’t even know where your country is! Why would they send their child to a complete stranger far away? No, if this is a reason for you to choose another charity, it is fine for us.
We support all the children of our school equally and in the same way. We love them and even though most of them will not win a Nobel Prize in science, we are proud that they learn as much as they do which will ensure them a better future then their parents could ever imagine.