Child Sponsorship: My experience sponsoring a child
I (we) sponsor two children through Action Aid. One in Ghana and one in Nigeria. I receive photos of both children about every six months when a visitor from Action Aid passes through their village. I get updates on the community work Actionaid do and sometimes a little picture by the child. My experience of sponsoring with Action Aid has been
mainly positive (my money contributes toward projects in the region where the sponsored children live). However, after I started sponsoring one girl in Gambia, Action Aid quit the country so I will never know what happened to her, and another child I sponsored through them died between their visits to the village, I am not sure how much nutrition he was getting despite the sponsorship. I have kept
sponsoring children with Action Aid even though I now work for a different kind of sponsorship charity. Mainly that must be because I think Action Aid do very good work and because I would not want to break with a child when I have started sponsorship.
It is possible to send postcards to the children we sponsor via Action Aid and we have sent them a few nice pictures. We will never know if they got them. We cannot give them our address, which I understand (as an old Africa hand) since there would be a risk of relatives inundating us with requests for money.
Child Sponsorship: The SOS way of sponsoring a child
I think the SOS Way to Sponsor Children is rather different to most versions. Often these things are really community development (which is good) but SOS children does house and feed the children concerned, and give them a new family. Whereas in some charities contact with the child is discouraged (because it
can be demeaning to the real family that they need help) with SOS Children, since the children have no other family it is rather nice for them to feel there are people around the world who care. I think you can be more confident that they are really well looked after too.
Also in general where a lot of charities come and go in countries based on their perception of relative need, when the situation in a country improves SOS stays but switches to fundraising locally (so India and South Africa for example are also entirely paid for by local fundraising). In very long term work like caring for orphans I think this is much better than coming and going.
I would encourage anyone to sponsor a child. I think making a regular commitment to donate is a positive thing and sponsorship helps people to feel involved with a particular child and get more committed to helping.