Of course, besides child sponsorship programs, many other programs must be developed in a poor region, programs that address more fundamental issues of poverty. Child sponsorship only does its part in supporting the development of a region, country, and of the international community. It is not the most fundamental form of aid for development, but it does its part, which can be quite significant at the level of a community. Through this method, more and more communities can benefit from the child sponsorship program, in the same time participating in other international aid programs. "Sponsorship is not the only way to help poor people, but it is one important way" (Endersby, 2006).
What made child sponsorship very debated in the past decades is the involvement of specific religious organizations into such programs. This can put some pressure on the child in a specific religious or lifestyle sense, but such practices are completely wrong and they have been deeply criticized. A child sponsorship program should be fair in addressing all religions and cultures and it should not put any pressure on the child to adopt a certain religion or lifestyle. So, even if there are some unfortunate exceptions, "most organizations are very sensitive to cultural issues" (Endersby, 2006). There is nothing wrong with a religious organization running a program of child sponsorship as long as these religious motives are only used to make people be active and help a child, not to impose a religious behavior on a child in need.
A child can be best aided if his community develops and this is why the most child sponsorship programs focus on helping the community to which a specific child belongs to. It is hard to change the life of a child if the community he lives in is underdeveloped and does not have access to basic facilities. This is why child sponsorship programs, through their involvement in the community of an individual child, can bring a lot of benefits to communities all over the world, eventually playing a part in the progress of development countries.
Generally, child sponsorship programs help empower the leaders of a community and create projects that develop the social conditions of a community, this having a very strong impact on children from that community. It is important to understand that the future of a community can be changed trough small contributions of donors involved in a child sponsorship program. Although this kind of contribution is not the only type that can make a difference in underdeveloped countries, it is an important program that does have effect on the communities it is applied in.
In what regards the impact of child sponsorship on the international community, one of the most important issues that sustain the idea that such a program encourages development is through education. Child sponsorship offers children from entire communities access to education and education has the greatest impact on the future of society. Helping underdeveloped children receive an education and in many cases just teaching them to read and write could make a huge difference in the suture of their communities. Education is one of the most important steps towards development and an important contribution in this field can be made through child sponsorship programs.
Sponsored are encouraged through child sponsorship programs to make a monthly donation which varies from organization to organization, but which normally is a modest sum. The benefit of such programs on the development of underdeveloped communities is that in the majority of cases, the commitment to the program is long-term and the donor becomes more involved in the cause. Comparing to other charity measures, child sponsorship has the great benefit of becoming a long-term commitment, thus ensuring a constant sponsorship of a community, which is more difficult to achieve through other charity programs.
The contributions in child sponsorship help in education, sponsoring schools, training teachers and providing an environment in which children learn practical things that they can use as they grow up and that can help them escape poverty. Educated children represent the future of society and sponsorship provides the tools for education for an entire community. Although these are small steps, they are steps forward, towards a more developed international community.
In what regards health care, one of the most important issues that must be dealt with is that too many children live without access to clean water, which makes it impossible for the most basic health care measures to be taken. Children all over the world die needlessly because they have no access to clean water. The solution for this would be to drill boreholes for clean water and through programs of sponsorship this can be funded (See the difference you make). It is important for every child to have access to clean water and child sponsorship also deals with issues related to community facilities.
In order to improve the life of a child, the most basic facilities must be created. Clean water is one of these facilities. Medical centers are the next step in providing basic conditions for a child. In order for a child to have a normal life he must have proper health care. Through education, children and parents can be trained about the importance of hygiene, which is a great benefit in an underdeveloped community. Supporting a child and teaching a child about the importance of hygiene makes a contribution because that child goes home and teaches his parents, than his parents teach the community and so on. Although it might seem that educating one makes no difference, the truth is that this touches more than one child - it can reach to a community.
It is not necessarily that a child sponsorship program to be focused on an individual child as many of the organizations conducting such programs are more focused on the community, as the "funds raised are generally not used in direct support of an individual child" (Preslar, 2003).
Although the impact of child sponsorship on the development of the international community is undeniable, there are few empirical researches made regarding this aspect of child sponsorship. There are many evidences in the sense of the impact on development of the communities where the children part of the child sponsorship program belong to, but no empirical research to show this was conducted. Perhaps future research will show without a doubt the benefits on the international community created by child sponsorship programs.
The development of the international community is helped partly by programs involving child sponsorship, as these programs seem to be effective in the development of the communities in which children belong to. Although it might seem ambitious, child sponsorship programs intend not only to change the life of a child, but most importantly to make a change in the underdeveloped communities where sponsored children live in. The basic logic behind this idea is that a child can teach his family and that his family can teach a community. In most cases, several children belonging to the same community are involved in the program, so that the impact on the community is guaranteed.
Besides this method through which facilities that are meant to help one, help an entire village, there is another aspect - that of making the problem known. One sponsor that is involved in the program can influence others to do the same for other communities and so the goal of the child sponsorship program is achieved - that of providing help to all developing countries.
The opponents of child sponsorship claim that it deals with issues that are not related to fundamental causes of poverty, such as AIDS and unfair trade, and that the changes promoted by child sponsorship do little for the well-being of the international community. In fact, child sponsorship is one of the solutions promoted by NGOs to reduce world poverty. It is not the only program or the best. Child sponsorship might have its downsides, but it is the best method to involve as many people as possible in the fight against poverty and it provides a method through which the donor is closely linked with the beneficiary of its donations, which ensures trust and cooperation from the donor usually until the child turns 18. Such a support can rarely be seen from donors in any other type of charity. This is why the importance of child sponsorship in the development of the international community is great and significant.
Brehm, Vicky, and Gale, Julie, NGO funding and policy bulletin, Bulletin no.3, November 2000, available at http://danny.oz.au/politics/poverty/child-sponsorship.html;
Child Sponsorship, Frequently Asked Questions, available at http://www.dontbuyicecream.com/9425.html;
Endersby, Alastair, Sponsoring a child, January 19, 2006, available at http://www.idebate.org/debatabase/topic_details.php?topicID=472;
Preslar, Andy, a Child-Centered Approach to Child Sponsorship, June 2003, available at http://www.ministrywatch.org/mw2.1/F_FullRpt.asp?EIN=362423707;
See the difference you make, available at http://www.plan-uk.org/becomeasponsor/sponsorship/;
Wroe, Martin, and Doney, Malcolm, the Rough Guide to a Better World, available online at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/rough-guide/better-world.pdf.