Have you ever wondered where your sponsorship money goes? Over the past 40 years, we at Smiley Children Society, Andhra Pradesh, have developed an effective method of utilizing supporters' donations to bring about lasting change for sponsored children and their communities. We don't decide where your money is spent. Instead, we ask the communities and our local staff where they need it the most and let them decide. As a result, 80% of your sponsorship money goes to your child’s community, while we invest 20% on public education and finding more sponsors in India. From years of experience, we've learned that a child can't be helped in isolation from their community. Singling out a few fortunate children to receive special education, gifts, or other individual benefits would only encourage dependency and wouldn’t help them improve their standard of living in the long term.
For example, if the land in the area where a child lives is infertile and food is hard to grow, that child will not be able to support themselves or their family when they leave school. Similarly, if there is no clean water supply, people will continue to get sick. We believe the best way to help is by tackling the root causes of poverty. Sponsorship money helps the community as a whole, so children have a healthy and safe place to live and grow up. Lasting progress can only be made by helping families and communities identify their own problems and work together to find their own solutions.
Child sponsorship was originally set up in the 1970s to provide a few children with the books, uniforms, and equipment needed to receive an education. However, over the years, our experience showed that children could only make so much progress without their family and community thriving around them. So our child sponsorship program has evolved to help the whole community in a long-term and sustainable way by providing clean water, healthcare, agricultural programs, income generation schemes, and education centers in areas where schools were not available. As a sponsor, you will receive regular messages from your sponsored child and updates on their progress, as well as reports from the community on how your money is being spent to change lives. You’ll see your child grow and develop – thanks to your investment.
Once a community has agreed to work with Smiley Children Society on child sponsorship, our local field staff and partners visit families and explain how sponsorship works. There is no 'active' selection process for child sponsorship: the only requirement is that the children and their parents must be willing to take part. We regard the relationship between sponsor and sponsored child as a partnership. Our staff explain to the children that they are acting as ambassadors for their community. They explain that people in India want to help them and that they have one supporter in particular who they are linked to. It is our hope that by writing to one another, the supporter and sponsored child will get to know each other and learn about their lives. And this hope has been borne out by thousands of sponsors from India and children all over the world, who write to each other and share messages and drawings.