As the world slowly emerges from a two-year-long pandemic, our community centers have reopened, though many are not yet running at full, in-person capacity. Virtual and in-person programming is helping children, youth and families get back on their feet again.
Unfortunately, global child poverty is expected to be roughly 10% higher than it was before the pandemic. Through decades of progress, data from the World Bank indicates that every year, between 1990 and 2015, extreme poverty declined by about one percentage point. But that progress had already begun stalling before the pandemic.
Simply put, together with your help, we still have work to do.
Fortunately, Children International’s long-term, programmatic approach is reaching more children and families than prior to the coronavirus outbreak. And the reason our organization has been able to help more at-risk children is because of our phenomenally committed sponsors.
Here are just a handful of the ways child sponsorship is helping our kids and their families get back on their feet and moving forward.
Many of the communities we serve have limited access to medical, dental and mental health services, due to cost, distance and overwhelmed public facilities and staff. COVID-19 spikes put added pressure on those limited resources. Pandemic or not, sponsorship closes the health care gap. CI’s local medical and dental clinics provide essential telehealth and in-person appointments, refer families to outside specialists, help pay for services, and educate families on healthy behaviors. Sponsorship also provides access to mental health supports, including therapy and emotional well-being programs that teach resiliency skills. These interventions have gained importance as the world witnesses a growing mental health crisis among at-risk children and youth, who continue living with significant stressors.
Graduate youth, Zambia
Sometimes my family only eats once or twice a day, and whenever I feel sad or depressed, I call Madam Luckness Namonje (Youth Programs Officer) at the center. She comforts me and encourages me to stay strong.
Moreover, we’ve been equipped with tools such as stress-management skills that help us remain focused and plan for our future as we wait for everything to go back to normal.
These skills go beyond COVID-19 because I’ll be able to apply what I’ve acquired when I face difficulties in my life … I plan to attend university, and with these skills, I’ll be able to prepare for my next phase in life.”
Whether it’s a lost job, an injury, or a typhoon, when crises strike sponsored families, sponsorship provides for their basic needs. For most of our families, who survive on a day-to-day basis, saving for an emergency is practically impossible. So, to help them weather such times, the Economic Assistance Program covers temporary income gaps, so emergencies do not become inescapable pits. Providing things like food, living expenses, home repairs or household items lost to fire, can literally be a lifesaver.
Network systems coordinator, Colombia
We created an entirely new database … and it allows us to manage contact information for the sponsored family as well as the ability to deliver the economic assistance package directly to them through modern banking platforms.
The results have been incredible. We can deliver benefits without dealing with crowds and can reach families no matter where they live.
The Economic Assistance Program has become the most effective way to meet the needs in the community. The families feel supported and understand that, despite some difficulties in staying in contact, we will never abandon them.”
Education is an indispensable key to creating a life free from poverty. Sadly, the educational deficits created in 2020 and 2021 due to school closures have added to the challenges vulnerable students face. Many, many parents who lost jobs because of the pandemic continue to struggle and remain unable to pay for school fees and supplies. Some children were forced to quit school and find work to support their families. Through the support of sponsors, our local teams have connected students to scholarships, remote learning technology and other educational materials. Online and in-person tutoring sessions and other learning opportunities are helping children and youth cover lost ground and stay on top of their studies. Local staff continue to offer empowering programs online and in-person so children and youth can develop life skills through education, sports, arts, music, leadership and more.
Graduate youth & currently a teacher
I became a sponsored child in 2007. Prior to joining Children International, my parents were struggling to make ends meet.
Participating in programs helped me to gain confidence and trust myself. I finished college through the HOPE scholarship and my sponsor. The community center also helped me to access free medical check-ups and medicines. The center staff are easy to approach and trusted our capabilities and skills.
Looking back, if I did not become part of CI, my family would have a hard time sending me to university. I would like to thank all the sponsors […] because of you, many children like me were able to graduate from college and had the opportunity to reach for their dreams.”
Hope: It’s the most powerful and transformative gift that sponsorship provides. Sponsored children, youth and their families consistently inform us that the support and encouragement they receive from sponsors mean the world to them. Knowing there is someone out there not only helping to meet their immediate needs, but who is also cheering them on — is a powerful dynamic. Sponsors are a source of hope to children living in poverty — and tangible proof that they matter and are cared for.
Graduate youth, Colombia
More than sponsors, they are our protectors and companions; although far away, their help changes the life of every one of us, daily. In Children International, my second home, I learned to believe in myself more and more every day. All those teachings received with love are reflected all the time, changing the course of my life.
Being sponsored is not only beneficial for the child; all the support and teachings we received since we were very young, give us the necessary trust to begin creating positive change in our families and communities.”
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