Army World’s Kids Need Your Love
Sponsors Provide Worldwide Magic
by Frances Dingman –
“Sponsorship means the world to children in Salvation Army orphanages, homes, schools, and day care centers,” says Territorial Child Sponsorship Director Major Ruth Looker. “And while monetary funding from sponsorship is necessary, more important to these children is knowing that others love them as individuals and care for them,” she adds.
Since 1991, the Western Territory has been reaching out to children around the world through the Overseas Children Sponsorship Program. From a modest beginning of 47 little ones sponsored in the first year, more than 400 children are now helped by this territory alone. Another 400 children wait to receive assistance and new cases arrive every week.
“Individuals and groups choose specific children or donate regular ‘discretionary’ funds to homes where their money means the difference between a meaningful life and the nothingness of the streets,” explains Looker. More than 50 children are currently sponsored by the West’s 25 Adult Rehabilitation Centers.
Within the last few years, Western Territory day care centers–and, of course, the parents–have sponsored overseas children’s homes. In Jamaica, the Kingston School for Blind and Visually-Handicapped Children, about five miles from downtown, accommodates 150 children. Almost all live there during the school term. From kindergarten through high school, they are taught in Braille, learning both academic and vocational skills, and also in music and art. Sponsorship provides the extras which mean so much: particular medication or treatment, new school clothes and shoes, a personal birthday toy or game, special candy or desserts. They enjoy hearing from their American pen pals.
CHILE–A boy climbs on the jungle gym at a home in Santiago, Chile.
Dormitories at the Kalutara Boys’ Home, Sri Lanka, look simple, but for boys who used to live in slum huts, it is a luxury to have a bed, mattress and pillow. The inflation rate is high here, and bringing up teenaged boys is expensive. Sponsorships and donations from abroad are needed to feed, clothe and educate the boys. It is not always easy to find sponsors for older children, but staff at the home look after them until they have completed their education. The boys go to the local village school, and take part in meetings at the Army corps in Kalutara.
Ajith Kumare, 14, has been in the home for many years. After his 11th birthday he moved from the Rajagiriya Children’s Home to Kalutara. His mother is very, very poor, and there is no way she can look after Ajith.
Upul Weeraratne, 16, was brought to the home when very small by his grandfather. No one knows what became of his parents. Both boys are thriving at the home.
Major Kim Yoon-bae, manager of the Seoul Broadview Children’s Home, says life is good. Children who had nothing now look forward to the future. More and more children pull out a book from the shelf and enjoy reading after school. The sponsors’ love and care for them is “always the same, like the heavens and the sea which never change.”
The Likoni School for the Blind in Nairobi, Kenya, is able to clothe, feed, and keep children healthy physically and spiritually, thanks to donations from sponsors. School activities involve games, sports and extracurricular activities. New construction will allow more staff quarters, extension of the school library, and a classroom for the children with multiple disabilities. In addition to the 20 teachers and 28 workers, two Salvation Army officers guide them with pastoral care and teaching.
Lt. Allison Norton tells of the abandoned children between the ages of 3 and 8 living in the Left Bank Homeless Children’s Center in Kiev, Ukraine. At the time of writing there were 14 children there, all found alone on the streets, where they had lived for varying lengths of time. Malnutrition and behavioral disorders mark them from their time on their own. In some cases, names had to be assigned to them, as they didn’t remember theirs. The corps has set up a school for them and is trying to provide the food, clothing and recreation they need, as well as psychological care. At present none of these children are sponsored.
Case histories of 11 children at the Ibbwe Munyama Primary School in Zambia have just been received. These show the grave need of most children in this country. Without sponsors, starvation is a real possibility this year for some of the children. Rita Bell writes from Zambia that in the past, Christmas gifts have usually been put towards a big Christmas party organized and run by the corps officers for all the children at the school. In view of the pressing need this year, Christmas money will probably be used for buying food for the children.
Merida is a city in the Yucatan Peninsula, about 25 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The Salvation Army has a thriving corps there with a home for boys, and none so far have sponsors. The corps people, all poor, bring special offerings each week to help finish the building. Electricity, running water, and cement floors are new to the area, and the people sleep in hammocks because of the heat.
Everywhere there are children to whom sponsorship means a chance in life. To play a part in the lives of deserving children requires only a promise to pay $20 per month for a period of at least a year. This can be made to an individual child or on a discretionary basis to one of The Salvation Army’s many children’s homes. Sometimes an individual sponsorship allows a child to remain in the family home. “One-time” or special donations will provide care in a home or buy equipment necessary to the home or school.
To sponsor a child or a home, or to make a donation, contact Major Ruth Looker at Territorial Headquarters, 2780 Lomita Blvd., Torrance, CA 90505.
(Note: check out the Child Sponsorship home page at: www.salvationarmy.usawest.org/children.htm )