Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spotlight Child of the Week, 5/28/2014

How could I not feature Princess Shannen?! I would sponsor her myself in a heartbeat, but I absolutely cannot take on any new children at this time. This four-year-old cutie pie lives in the Philippines with her parents and one sibling. The family of four struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $90. Their home is constructed of concrete and corrugated metal. Princess Shannen is already attending school! She enjoys playing outdoors and dancing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Idealized Poverty

Picture this: toiling parents, working diligently and under-compensated for their hard labor, struggling to put food on the table for their children. The family never indulges in wasteful things like television or soda and potato chips. Our children go to school, do chores, play in the streets, and at all times are mindful of their situation and brimming with gratitude for their sponsors. This makes them work twice as hard as their classmates, so they can one day rise above poverty! Siblings and cousins and grandparents all sacrifice even their meager means to help support this one miracle child, with the hope that the whole family will benefit. Sound familiar?

I think we as Sponsors sometimes have a particular view of what our children and their families are like. However, after years of sponsorship and some Facebook stalking of former sponsored children, I'm pretty sure that the reality is far from that idealized idea. I'm sure there are parents who eat first and feed their kids whatever is leftover. Siblings smoke cigarettes. There are nights our children don't want to complete their homework. They take selfies in bathroom mirrors and listen to music their parents wouldn't approve of. They consider themselves "emo" or "punk" or "prep" and have a clique of friends they pal around with. They kiss boys and, sometimes, things go too far. They are subject to peer pressure, and they aren't infallible. They are real people, and subject to the downfalls of being human just like we are.

Does this mean sponsorship is a waste of time? Of course not! Being human doesn't mean they're unworthy of support and the hope of a better life, and being impoverished doesn't mean they aren't allowed to enjoy frivolous things sometimes. We are sometimes prone to feeling that they should be doing this or that, that they should be grateful to a fault, that they should never waste a crumb or a second that could be spent toiling to improve their situation. But that's not life--that wouldn't be living.

Our children and their families are not robots.

Spotlight Child of the Week, 5/20/2014

Six-year-old Insha lives in India with her parents. They live in a concrete and brick house with illegally-tapped electricity and no running water. The family struggles to survive on an income of only $56 per month. Insha is enrolled in school. She enjoys playing with toys and dolls, and counts drawing among her talents. Insha speaks Urdu.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Photo of Nay-Nay

Nay-Nay's new annual photo appeared in my account today. It's the first one in which she's worn her hair down. It's gotten so long! She looks so different, and she's really starting to grow up fast. She's thirteen years old now, and beginning eighth grade next month.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Letters from Joyce and Nay-Nay!

After weeks and weeks of waiting (okay, that's probably an exaggeration...), I opened my mailbox yesterday and found a CI envelope! Inside was Cristine's annual photo and two letters!

Joyce wrote,

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Hello!!! How's your day? I hope that you and your family are in a good condition. This last February 28, we celebrated a Sr. Prom in our school. We are so happy on that occasion, we also dance and take a picture. By the way the color of my dress is red. It's simple but it's also beautiful. I choose red because that is one of my favorite colors. Me, my friends and my teacher are dancing together until end of occasion.

On my schooling it's also happy because my grades are high and good. Me, my friends and also my best friend are bonding together if we don't have a lesson and sometimes we have a group study at the house of my friend. This coming March 27, we graduate in our school. I'm so excited to be a college student because I found new friends  and classmates, but I will also miss my high school life when I graduate in our school.

I hope that you would like my letter. Thank you for supporting me. Hoping that you and your family are happy every day. GOD BLESS YOU and I LOVE YOU =)

With care,

She always writes such great letters! I wish I could see a photo of her in her prom dress--I bet she looked beautiful! I was excited all over again by the thought of her going to college. I can't wait to hear what she'll be studying and if she got a scholarship for her excellent grades!

Nay-Nay wrote:

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Good day to you!

Last month is my periodic test and distributing our class cards and I've got another top again. Proud to say that to you my sponsor. This coming February I prepare myself for many activities in Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health (MAPEH Club). I also prepare a Valentine letters for our teachers and my family.

Thank you for supporting me and sponsoring me. God bless you and your family. With you my sponsor I was able to study and more active in school. Thank you.

With kisses,
Chris Ann D.

At the bottom, instead of a drawing, she put a quote: "Education is the golden key to success."

I'm so proud of her for achieving top grades! Looks like I have another college student in the making. =)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Plot Thickens ...

CI replied to yesterday's Very Angry Lady, apologizing and saying they would address the issue. "Good," I thought. "It's all taken care of." But apparently that wasn't enough for her.

Ho-ho! Look, New York! How fortunate we are to have Ms. Sabrina Lamb to speak unsolicited on our behalf!

"Violate our privacy" ... by knocking on your door? Darling, I don't think that word means what you think it means!

I typed up a big, long response, but I didn't hit enter. What's the point? She's not going to come right and apologize for her antics, and it will probably only inflame the situation further.  So I took a screenshot of my answer instead:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spotlight Children of the Week: 5/9/2014

I turned my focus this week to India. I have been researching educational opportunities and the system in place there, so the country was on my mind as I browsed through the waiting children list. I found three girls who speak minority languages only--not one of them speaks Hindi at all.

Two-year-old Shalini lives with her parents on a monthly income of only $70. Their home is made up of brick walls and a concrete floor with a corrugated tile roof. They are fortunate to have regulated electricity, but must obtain their water from a community pump. Shalini is still too young for school. She enjoys playing with dolls. Shalini speaks Bengali.

Fifteen-year-old Sajiya lives with her parents and three siblings in a home of concrete floors, brick walls and a tile roof. The family of six struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $80. They have illegally-tapped electricity and must get their water from community faucets. Against the odds, Sajiya is still attending school. She speaks Urdu.

Twelve-year-old Firdosh lives with her parents and one sibling on a monthly income of only $66. Their home is entirely concrete: floor, roof and walls. They have illegally-tapped electricity and must get their water from community faucets. Firdosh attends school, and in her free time she enjoys playing indoor games. She speaks Urdu.

I Don't Understand

Why do people get SO angry about Dialogue Direct people talking to them about Children International? All it takes is a polite, "No, I'm not interested. Thank you." They're just doing their job; a thankless, grueling job that I would never want, at that. There's no need to berate them for it.

Someone knocked on your front door? Yes, door-to-door solicitors can be annoying. You can always ignore the knock if you're THAT against someone talking to you (that's my plan of attack; I never open my door if I don't recognize the person on the other side). However, turning up on the CI Facebook page and ranting, "HOW DARE YOUR EMPLOYEES KNOCK ON MY DOOR!" and posting, "Your employees were not invited to our private residences. These two showed up on my doorstep!" accompanied by a photograph of two smiling young women accomplishes nothing aside from making yourself look like an overreacting crazy lady (oh, and by the way: they're Dialogue Direct employees, not Children International employees). Invited to your residence? Funny, they don't look like they're inside your personal residence to me. How dare they knock on your door? Goodness! I thought that's what doors were for!

But seriously, what is there to get offended and all up-in-arms about? Do you get angry at the Girl Scouts selling cookies, too? Or what if World of Money showed up to ask for a donation? Is that different, because it's a cause you actively support? Or how about someone taking collections to help find the missing girls in Nigeria? You've bombarded your Facebook followers with multiple posts a day on THAT subject. Would you react to those solicitors with such venom?

I doubt it.

The DEMONS who DARED to knock on her door!

I wish I knew who these two girls were, so I could apologize to them for the tongue-lashing I'm sure they received from this woman.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A New Sponsorship

As I was writing this week's Spotlight Child blog, I had focused attention on girls in Zambia who speak one of the minority languages. I had selected three girls to feature--one speaks Lozi, the other two speak Tonga.

The youngest, Ruth, is only two years old. As I began to write about her, I happened to glance at her birthday. She will be three years old on May 17th.

Ruth, you may have noticed, is not featured in the aforementioned Spotlight blog. Well, that's because she already has a sponsor!

I've never had a child in Zambia before, so this will be an interesting experience for me. I'll have the opportunity to learn about a whole new country and culture as I help give my birthday twin hope for a bright future!

Spotlight Children of the Week, 5/4/2014

For this week's Spotlight, we turn our attention to Africa. As you have probably heard by now, over 230 girls were abducted while they sat an exam at school in Nigeria. Although Zambia and Nigeria are separated by three thousand miles, it seemed appropriate to focus this week's Spotlight on CI's operation there.

Ronica, age 14.
Fourteen-year-old Ronica lives with her parents and two siblings in a concrete home with a corrugated tile roof. Electricity is not available in her community and she must obtain her water from community faucets. The family of five struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $70. Against all odds, Ronica is still attending school. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her friends. Ronica speaks Lozi in addition to Nyanja.

Fridah, age 13.
Thirteen-year-old Fridah lives with her mother and one sibling in a concrete home with a corrugated metal roof. She is lucky that electricity is available in her community. The family obtains their water from community faucet and struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $80. Fridah sleeps on that hard concrete floor with a mat. She is enrolled in school. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing with her friends, and playing with dolls. Fridah speaks Tonga in addition to Nyanja.