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I sponsor a child through World Vision.  Her name is Manira, and I love her.

She lives with her parents, her brother, and her sister in a French speaking country in Africa (Score:  I can write to her in French!), and I’ve been sponsoring her for 5 years.

Allow me please to tell you a little about her.  She’s 10, in Grade 5, and her favourite subject is biology.  She’s a beautiful girl with a gorgeous smile.  She told me once in a letter that when she grows up, she wants to be a nurse.  The fact that she is even in school right now, learning and loving biology, warms my heart right up.  She loves to dance and sing, and being the oldest child, she does a fair bit of babysitting while her parents work.

Five years ago, I had no real inkling to sponsor a child, but World Vision literally came knocking.  They showed up at my apartment door and asked me to consider sponsorship.  The representative showed me pictures of kids who needed help, and she explained that for $35.00 a month, I could provide benefits not just to this beautiful girl and her family, but to her community as well.  In my profile on World Vision, I can look at a community report along with updates on Manira.

Look at the things going on in Manira’s community (pasted verbatim from my World Vision profile).

Education

  • We helped build and equip four classrooms at a primary school, easing overcrowding and improving the learning environment for children.
  • 14 literacy centers are offering basic classes in reading and writing for adults and young people who did not have the opportunity to attend school, equipping them with important skills for everyday life and making it easier for them to start small businesses and manage their households. 350 people attended the literacy centers.
  • Teachers were trained in new teaching methods to strengthen the quality of education.
  • Awareness campaigns were held on the importance of education for all children, including girls, who are often kept home from school to do chores and married early.

Health and Nutrition

  • More than 2,500 malnourished children and nursing mothers were treated at nutritional recovery centers operated with World Vision’s support.
  • We partnered with the Ministry of Health to hold immunization campaigns, helping them reach more children with life-saving vaccines.
  • We supplied two health centers with antimalarial medication, distributed 2,025 mosquito nets, and organized two malaria-prevention campaigns. We also facilitated training in malaria prevention for 16 health officers.

Agriculture and Environment

  • A veterinary store was opened to improve availability of feed and medicine for livestock, which are the primary source of food and income for many families.
  • An assessment was carried out to determine the status of 25 community grain banks. We followed up with training for the committees who manage the grain banks and stocked them with 63 tonnes of millet to reduce families’ vulnerability to drought.
  • We worked with community partners to restore 108 acres of environmentally degraded land.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

  • Eight borehole wells were drilled to decrease the prevalence of waterborne illness. Children can now attend school instead of fetching water and women have more time for business activities and to care for their families.
  • We contributed materials to help 53 families build latrines, improving sanitation.
  • 60 women have formed volunteer groups to promote healthy hygiene and sanitation practices in the schools and the community.

Economic Development

  • Two vocational centers were established to train women in sewing so they can provide for their families.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Manira in the past 24 hours since the Internet exploded with news of World Vision (US) changing their hiring policy twice in rapid succession to accept and then reject those in same-sex marriage relationships in their hiring process.

My opinion on the actual mechanics of that decision isn’t really relevant here for a couple of reasons.  First, World Vision Canada is a separate entity, and I actually kind of liked their statement in response to it all.  Second, I truly believe that my need to continue giving sponsorship to this child is so much more important than any of the kerfuffle that’s gone on the last couple of days.

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours sifting through mainly reactions to the events that have transpired, though I will admit there were a few well crafted responses.  Jen Hatmaker’s is one of them.  I really resonated with hers, as I do with pretty much everything she writes.  I think she and I would be good friends.

What broke my heart while I was reading was the sheer number of people who have decided that, effective immediately, they needed to withdraw their support of children who so desperately need that involvement in their community.  I mean, do what you gotta do I guess, but I immediately pictured Manira, who’s able to go to school along with many other girls in her community.  She’s able to just love biology, and her dream of being a nurse has a chance at actually happening.  I know I’m not solely responsible for those things, and it would be naive of me to think so, but the thought of withdrawing my support from her over a decision made at the administrative level made me kind of sick to my stomach.

My thoughts on anything else, right now — they’re completely irrelevant…. because I feel so strongly that my support needs to stay with Manira, not with a side on the issue.

Are there other charities doing equally great things in communities around the world?  I’m sure there are.  But if I just threw in the towel because I didn’t like an administrative change, who would explain to Manira why she had support one day and then didn’t the next?  I sure wouldn’t want to.

In fact, you know what?  I’m currently prayerfully considering sponsoring a second child, because I think that the needs of the orphans, the marginalized, the poor, and the disenfranchised are bigger than administrative decisions that impact offices in corporate America.  I have an opinion on the right vs. wrong side of the debate itself, but that’ll only detract from my point here.  It’s not important what I think about gay marriage.  And while it IS important what scripture says in every instance in life ever, about everything, I can’t help but think that for me, it’s more important that I love Manira than that I get up on my soap box and start to preach, one way or the other.  After all, I think the greatest commandment is love, is it not?  Yeah.  Love.