Power of ONE: Seeing the world through a child’s eyes

Sponsor and donor Kent Mader

Sponsor and donor Kent Mader loves being outside. He takes advantage of southern California’s beautiful weather to run, swim and go to the beach. But what he really enjoys is exploring more remote areas. He travels internationally to do ski mountaineering, a combination of mountain climbing and skiing. It was through his travels — for work and vacation — that Kent discovered ways to be more in touch with local cultures.

Q: How did you get involved with CI?

I’ve been sponsoring kids for about 10 years, but I don’t remember how I got involved exactly. I wanted to get more meaning out of work trips or vacation. When you visit those countries — Argentina, Chile, India, the Philippines — you realize how fortunate we are in the U.S. You can create opportunities for those kids. You can build a relationship with kids. You can really understand a country and culture through the eyes of a child. Learning about a country is more than what’s on the news. You can get a sense of grounding that you don’t get through the news.

Over the years, I promised myself to keep sponsoring more and more kids. I try to add one each year. It’s a great way to give a child an experience. I try to write them back and tell them about where I live. It’s an opportunity for a kid in a tough environment to experience it personally through someone telling them about it. Giving them inspiration — family is important, school is important. They hear it from someone other than their teacher or parent. It gives them one more person to look up to.

I’ve met sponsored kids in person just a few times. In the Philippines — one kid is out of the program and now in college [which I’m paying for]. Funding college is a small thing. Lifting a noneducated kid into an educated background is a big deal.

Kent’s sponsored child, Jonatan, shares drawings

While in Guatemala for a community center inauguration earlier this year, sponsor and donor Kent Mader visited 8-year-old Jonatan.

Q: In what surprising way has being involved with CI changed your life?

I’ve now met three kids in person. When you actually get to meet the kid and family, you see where they actually live; you learn more than you can with a letter. Seeing inside their home is an extraordinary experience. You see how resilient they are. They’re still smiling. They deal with whatever comes their way. You meet the kids and the parents and realize that people and children are people and children no matter where they are. To be inside their homes is special  extraordinarily special.

Kent poses for photo with Jonatan and his family

“I think when I visited the centers to see the programs — especially in Guatemala — I saw that my sponsorship of a child doesn’t just help the child but the whole family,” Kent says.

Q: Is there anyone who has had a big impact on your life?

I’m blown away by what it takes to coordinate these community centers — from the countries to people in Kansas City. To put all these things together — it’s remarkable what the organization does in terms of connecting sponsors and kids in order to build a relationship that can have a lasting impact on a kid and their family.

You’re changing lives. The donation is just one small piece of it. All the time that people put in at community centers providing services is a huge endeavor. I’m just a piece of it. It’s much, much bigger than just me.

It’s a great organization to be a part of. You selfishly feel good about yourself doing these things.

You have to feel good about yourself when you’re actually helping someone who’s on the extreme of what they have versus you. It takes less than five Starbucks coffees to help a whole family in another country.

Kent takes a photo outside a community center with his sponsored child, her mother and the CI Quezon City agency director.

In 2011, Kent visited his sponsored child, Almera (now 18), in Quezon City.

I’m now just recently funding some of the centers. I’ll do much more than just sponsor another kid. Now, I want to help build centers. Tierra Nueva, Guatemala, was built. And there’s another new center, Villa Canales, Guatemala. When you look at something like this, it will have a lasting impact on the families.

Q: What does the phrase “Unleashing the power of (every)ONE” mean to you?

I think when I visited the centers to see the programs — especially in Guatemala — I saw that my sponsorship of a child doesn’t just help the child but the whole family. They get services from CI that benefit more than just the kid. Family members become volunteers, and it becomes a multiplier effect. When you sponsor a child, you’re sponsoring whoever touches that child. The programs can really change a family for the benefit of that family too. You get a sense of home.You see an organization that’s built around the family and not just the child. It all starts from just somebody’s sponsorship. You’re creating a cohesive unit.

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