It can be hard for a lot of us to imagine what it means be a homeless orphaned child. Surely, — we think, — there must be some fragments of support? Perhaps they sleep in a shelter? a car? Surely there must be a caring adult in their life looking out for them?
When I met Sam he was homeless and orphaned and about eight-years-old. He had no one and no where to stay. A local shop owner approached us after noticing that Sam would sleep in the doorway to his store at night.
The story Sam told was unbearable. The death of his mother, the loss of a temporary living arrangement and then the utter violence and misery of being alone.
It’s his voice you hear in this clip saying “There were times I did not eat, the whole day. I was always afraid.”
Kate has never met Sam. She lives in Burlington VT with her son Ty. She’s a superhero sort of mom, the kind who encourages her fourth grader to think about his personal goals for the year. She talks to him about prioritizing his time, leadership and self-talk. She cultivates empathy.
Kate and Ty have been sponsoring Sam for over two years, and the funds they donate every month help provide Sam with a warm bed to sleep in, a competitive school to excel in, and access to all the services that kids need to thrive.
Last week, Sam called out to a departing volunteer to “greet his friend Ty in America”. It is remarkable that two little boys - on either side of the world, born into very different circumstances - can be connected in this way.
As many people know, our child sponsorship program is a vital lifeline for everything we do.
Our growing community of sponsors continue to amaze us everyday -- people who step up to sponsor a child they have never met, but who they come to know through letters and photographs. It is also a wonderful tool for our kids to be able to put real names and faces to a growing force of donors who believe in them, and are willing to fight and sacrifice on their behalf.
As we prepare to launch our Match Sponsorship Challenge, we want to take this opportunity to address some frequently asked questions.
A lot of people wonder if their donation goes directly to the specific child they sponsor.
Apart from a few cases whereby a sponsor directly sponsors a child's school fees, the majority of child sponsorship funds are split up amongst all the children.
100 percent of funds that come through the child sponsorship program are spent on the ground, in Kenya.
We spend them on things like: purchasing food for our table and supplies for our farm, fueling our generator, paying the incredible staff who deliver 24 hour care to the children at Flying Kites. We use the funds to make trips to the dentist and the doctor, to buy school books and pay school fees.
As you can imagine - with so many children living together at our home and even more at our school - it would be very troublesome to meet the needs of the children who have sponsor and not extend the same level of care to those who do not yet have sponsors.
Another common question is, "will I be my child's only sponsor?".
The answer is, hardly ever.
We generally recruit several sponsors for each child in our care in order to be able to provide them with a high level of care. Teachers, therapists, social workers, house-moms, a cook, farmers, guards, lawyers, doctors ... there is a lot that goes into caring for vulnerable children to the standard they deserve.
We believe that, in order for children to really break a cycle of poverty and be positioned to — one day — challenge a system that has failed them, the care that is provided to them must be exemplary.
As such, we recruit sponsors for each individual child until the cost of caring for them is covered. To arrive at that number, we add up the cost of running Kenya operations and divide it by the number of children in our programs.
To learn more about the different levels and varying levels of communication that come with each donation, please click here.