Whenever Allen or Trish make it back to the States, they receive some most excellent questions about how their sponsorship program impacts the children, their families, and their pastors. This has come up so often that we figured we should address this in its very own blog post.
Walk the Walk
People are often surprised to learn some children walk miles through the mountains in order to get to feeding centers. Let’s face it, in our society, if we ever expected our young children to hike across rugged terrain for a meal, we could expect the authorities to pay us a little home visit! The Sowers understand your concern, but here’s the deal: Honduras is not the United States. Their cultural norms are not our cultural norms. That doesn’t mean one way of life is wrong and the other is right. It merely means they are different ways of life.
In Honduras, it is absolutely expected that a child may walk miles to school, church, etc… The parents aren’t being neglectful. It’s just how things are. The fact that parents send their kiddos off to feeding centers does not indicate they are so desperate for food that they will risk the safety of their children. It means, hey, it’s a mountainous region of Honduras. If you want to get somewhere, you should probably start walking because mommy doesn’t have a minivan.
Parents take necessary precautions. It is normal for children to travel in groups, with the older ones keeping an eye on the younger ones. Some pastors even operate their feeding centers on Sundays to save the children one trip each week. And, as absolutely foreign as that sounds to us, my father told similar stories about his childhood.
What? I Don’t Get Three Wishes?
The next thing people want to know is whether the sponsorship program sets up a fairy godmother sort of situation. They wonder if it alters relationships between children, their families, and pastors.
Trish addressed this with me by saying, “We are only moving letters back and forth three or four times a year. Any gifts the kids receive with those letters are usually limited to what can fit in a small Ziplock baggie. These kids are not being continually showered with gifts and it’s not a matter of some kids being picked out above others. A child receiving some good things and a few letters does not come between the kids and parents.”
A Matter of Pride?
Finally (for the purposes of this post, anyway!), people want to know if the parents of sponsored children find it hurtful to see someone else doing things for their child. Trish assured me the parents react the same way we might if our child received a big scholarship. I don’t know about you, but I’d be thrilled for my children to receive scholarships.
For a parent who cannot afford to send a child to school because of the cost of a backpack, school supplies, and shoes, this is the absolute equivalent of a scholarship. The parents feel great gratitude and joy.
Allen, the numbers man, wants me to reiterate that the cost of a backpack and school supplies in Honduras would be around $70. The cost for the exact same items (or frequently items of higher quality) is $30. That’s not counting the expense of shoes. Plus, many families are dealing with multiple children. In a country where a family’s annual income might be $1000, it’s easy to see how the backpacks and school supplies could mean the difference between a child receiving an education or not receiving one.
If you're interested in being a part of helping these children, in remote villages of western Honduras, here are a few ways you can help, with links to additional information:
- Donate to the general feeding ministry, in which 14,000 children are currently being fed, at a cost of 2 cents per meal
- Sponsor a child through the Manna 4 Lempira sponsorship program for $15 per month
- Donate to our general fund. We use money from this fund wherever it is most needed at the time.
- posted by Christi