Children–Where Needs Are Desperate
Overseas Children’s Sponsorship
“In the far corners of the world,” says Overseas Children’s Sponsorship Director Major Ruth Looker, “338 children are benefiting from this program that lets children know someone, through the love of God, cares for them.”
The program of individual and discretionary sponsorships, which operates separately from The Salvation Army’s World Services/Self Denial effort, was initiated in 1991 under the leadership of Commissioner Kay F. Rader. Looker is the fourth director.
Sponsors select a child from a case history supplied by the department and pledge $20.00 per month, for a minimum of one year, for a child’s support. Payments may be made monthly, quarterly or yearly. The Salvation Army sees that the money is spent on needed items for the child and that the articles go directly to him or her. This stipend might enable the child to attend school, to stay warm at night, and to have more adequate meals.
In most areas there are children’s homes where managers struggle to maintain a positive environment for many abandoned or orphaned children. Discretionary sponsorships enable them to count on a certain amount of money to do what is most needed for all the children. A number of children are sponsored by organizations and groups. Many prefer to make discretionary contributions, which can be in any amount.
Correspondence on both sides is encouraged, and allows the donors to know more about what the children are like and what difference their money is making in the lives of the children. Behind the details in department files are stories of poverty and neglect, and also joy and hope.
From the Army’s Garden School in Haiti come stories like these: “Clomene’s mother died, leaving seven children. The father is not working. Clomene likes school, and always comes early”…Monise, 7: “Any time she comes to Sunday school she has a song to sing”…At the Army’s Integrated Children’s Center in Bangladesh is Mamunur, 9. “He is blind, due to malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. He is a very good student with an excellent memory.” Jin-Suk, 4, is in the Army’s Children’s Home in Seoul, Korea. His father is in prison and his mother gave up parental rights because she could not take care of him. “He is an active, bright child.”
One letter Looker received from a sponsor gives some idea of the impact the gifts have on both sides: “Receiving the letter and photograph from Shawn was an answer to my prayers. They were my most precious gift this Christmas.”
To the children, sponsors write such messages as: “…I wonder what your city is like and what your dreams are. I ask God to watch over you.” Packages cannot be sent, but small items such as stickers are always welcome. What an opportunity this is to reach out to the children of the world!