Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Sponsoring children in developing countries

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Is the sponsorship of children in developing countries a good idea?

Background and context

Sponsoring a child is a popular way of supporting charity work in the developing (poor) world. Many charities run schemes which link a person in a western country (the donor, or sponsor) with a particular child in a developing country. The sponsor makes a regular donation, perhaps of $30 a month, to support that child. Some charities focus their sponsorship work on orphans but many choose children living at home with their families. In the latter case the money is spent by the charity rather than given directly to the child’s family. Usually the child benefits through education, health care, and perhaps food aid. Some charities use the sponsored children as a way of assisting a whole community, while others focus more on the individual child and their family. Communication is an important part of sponsorship schemes. As well as their regular donations, sponsors often send letters to the child they are supporting, and perhaps occasional gifts. In return they can expect to receive regular reports and photographs from the charity about the child’s progress and how their money is making a difference to his or her life. Often the child is also expected to write to their sponsor, if they are able to do so. Although sponsorship is a major source of funding for charities working overseas, it does have critics. Some of the largest aid agencies choose not to offer child sponsorship schemes. The sections below give a summary of the main arguments for each side on this issue.

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Argument #1

[Add New]

Yes

Sponsoring a child is a costly way to do good. More of the money given is taken up with administration compared to other ways of helping poor people. For example, keeping track of each child and family needs time from an aid worker, who has to be paid. Organising and sending letters, photographs, school reports, etc. to the donor takes time and money. Translating letters and reports between both donor and child can be particularly costly. Giving the same amount of money to an aid charity would do much more for poor people.

[Add New]

No

Sponsoring a child is a great way to make a big difference to the lives of poor people. In these days of electronic communication the total admin cost can be as low as 5% of the cost of contribution, which is comparable to other forms of giving (see links below). It isn’t just a one-off gift, but a long-term commitment to making monthly payments. Over the years $30 a month can really add up to thousands of dollars worth of aid spending. Sponsoring a child means that you can really know how the money you give is doing good. For example, allowing him or her to go to school, paying medical expenses, and supporting local development projects. All charities have overhead costs for running projects. At least with sponsoring a child you get to see that it isn’t being wasted.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #2

[Add New]

Yes

Sponsorship can create dependency, meaning the child and family will come to rely on their sponsor. This may discourage them from using their own efforts to escape poverty. For example, even if leaving their village to find work elsewhere could be best for them, they may stay put to keep receiving the sponsorship money and other benefits. Children can also become dissatisfied as they compare their life with that of rich westerners they learn about in letters. Feeling they are relying upon the goodwill of a rich foreigner can also lead to anxiety and resentment as they grow up.

[Add New]

No

Some charities only offer lone children who live with them for sponsorship, in which cases dependency of family is inapplicable. Most have an objective of achieving independence. Sponsorship has a wonderful impact upon the lives of the boys and girls involved. So many millions of children in developing countries lack enough to eat, die of preventable diseases, and don’t get a chance to go to school. Sponsoring a child ensures that many little lives are given security and opportunity. They are also given hope through knowing that someone far away cares for them very much and will support them as they grow up.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #3

[Add New]

Yes

Being sponsored can cut off a child from its community. Brothers, sisters and other families will naturally ask why one child has been picked, and not them. The special letters, gifts, medicine and schooling one child receives create inequality and division. This can lead to dislike and feelings of guilt. It can also be shameful for the parents to feel that they are not good enough to raise their son or daughter without help from outside.

[Add New]

No

Sponsoring a child helps others. How sponsorship schemes work varies from charity to charity. Some work with orphans and abandoned children, who would face a very bad future without outside help. Most charities work in villages and many make sure that not only one child is helped, but that many others benefit too. For example, sponsorship money may help to build and run a school or health clinic, or to provide clean water or farming projects.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #4

[Add New]

Yes

There are better ways to help people. Helping single children, or even villages, treats the symptoms (outward signs) of poverty. It does nothing to address the actual causes of poverty such as war, unclean water, bad government, HIV/AIDS, unfair world trade rules, etc. If we really want to help lift people out of poverty for good, we should give to charities which focus on these bigger development issues. We should also join campaigns to make rich world governments do more to help the developing world by increasing aid funding, forgiving debt, and changing the global trade rules.

[Add New]

No

The track record of western attempts to address "big issues" is dismal. Sponsorship is not the only way to help poor people, but it is one important way with tangible results. Some charities focus on big international development work and political campaigns. Most groups offering child sponsorship choose instead to work in individual countries where they have special expertise. Giving to support a particular child doesn’t stop people from also supporting other sorts of charity. However, some people disagree with the political agendas of the big development charities (perhaps thinking that they are ineffective, socialist, anti-free trade, or anti-America) and will not give to them at all.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #5

[Add New]

Yes

Child sponsorship does little to increase understanding. Letters are often edited by the charities (for example, to remove personal appeals, complaints, or political points). They may even be dictated by aid workers keen to tell donors what they want to hear. Sponsorship schemes also push an unfair (perhaps even racist) image of developing countries. Charities show sad children and desperate families (mostly dark-skinned) in adverts, in order to attract new donors (mostly white). This leads many people to believe these children are helpless with families who cannot look after them at all. The wider reasons for poverty are never explained.

[Add New]

No

Child sponsorship brings about greater understanding between people from different countries and cultures. Personal letters, charity reports, photographs and even visits help to build a bridge between the developed and developing world. In this troubled world, such work is of great importance. And as more people in rich states take an interest in developing countries, they can tell others. This raises the profile of charity work and keeps the west’s attention on the need to help poorer countries.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #6

[Add New]

Yes

Sponsorship is about the needs of the donors more than the needs of poor children. For example, some schemes have a clear religious or cultural drive. This can turn charity into a way of pushing a particular faith or lifestyle. Families may come to think that they have to show belief in order to keep receiving sponsorship. For example, sponsored children may be encouraged to send cards at Christmas, even if they are not Christians.

[Add New]

No

Sponsorship is very rewarding as donors get to see a child grow and succeed with their support. Some charities may run bad schemes which put pressure on children, but these are not normal. Most are very sensitive to cultural issues and give donors helpful advice on what to include in letters. Anyway, it is not wrong to have a religious reason for giving to charity. Some schemes do link sponsors with children who already share the same faith background. Either way, child sponsorship provides a motive for giving which raises large sums of money for poor people. Banning sponsorship schemes would not redirect this money to other development aid. Much of it would not be given at all.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Argument #7

[Add New]

Yes

Charities should be very careful in releasing details about individual children who are available to sponsor. The children shown are likely to be too young to give up their right to privacy. There are also some nasty people in the world who take an unhealthy interest in children. Can we be sure the charities are able to protect children in developing countries from unwanted attention?

[Add New]

No

Many charities are very careful about privacy. Most only give the actual details of a child out to the donor after sponsorship has been arranged. Even then, the sponsor should not share information or photographs more widely. And charities do take care to protect children from unwanted attention. Letters almost always go through the aid workers, who can check them for inappropriate content.

See also

External links and resources:

Books

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.