ADRA Canada believes that empowering communities is the most crucial step in breaking the poverty cycle affecting many children. We believe that children’s lives can only be improved if family life and community life are also improved.
ADRA Canada has strategically chosen to engage with the critical shapers of children’s development (parents, teachers, health workers, local authorities, policy-makers) because close partnerships with these people are essential to create lasting positive changes in a child’s life. Many of ADRA Canada’s projects are designed to help children. We intentionally choose to work in communities that show the highest need for assistance based on child-related indicators such as nutrition, health, and education.
There is great power in a community: familiarity and support, knowledge and shared experience, a sense of oneness, solidarity and ownership. We work hard to tap into this spirit and empower communities to drive their own development, recognizing and building on their strengths. By providing them with the resources and support that are not within their reach, ADRA Canada supporters like you can enable them to overcome the barriers they face.
Many aid agencies offer child sponsorship programs. The ADRA network has developed along different lines by responding to emergencies and partnering with poor communities on comprehensive development projects.
There are some disadvantages to child sponsorship programs:
- Cost – When they are run properly and ethically, child sponsorship programs are extremely expensive to operate; most of the money sent for the sponsored child is required for administration. The mechanics of sponsorship – which include recording a child’s progress, translating letters, and taking photographs – are a financial and administrative cost to the charity.
- Family Discord – Sponsorship frequently causes family discord by supporting just one child in a poverty-stricken community. Focusing on individuals often means that aid agencies arbitrarily single out children for preferential treatment. The chosen few may receive extra food, education, clothes, and gifts, whereas others do not. Siblings and other families become jealous. Parents can feel frustrated that only one of their children receives help, or even humiliated because outsiders are providing things which they cannot.
- Practicality – Sponsorship provides donors with the hope that a child’s life can be changed by a small monthly donation. This is heartening to the donor because it reduces an overwhelming issue to seemingly manageable proportions. However, a child’s welfare is actually dependent on the kind of life her parents are able to lead.
- Dependence Perpetuated – The sponsored child may be constantly reminded that she is the ‘poor relation.’ She must always be prepared to show gratitude to the sponsors. On their own, sponsorship programs run the risk of fostering dependence.
- Cultural Confusion – Sponsorship can engender cultural confusion. Programs that provide education to individual children can isolate them from their community, causing dissatisfaction for everyone.
A child’s life can only be improved if the lives of her family and community are improved; and that is where ADRA Canada projects have their focus. We have found that improving the welfare of a community, especially in line with their own aspirations and in a partnership model, makes a difference for all children, not just those few that get picked up by a child sponsorship program. ADRA Canada community projects are generally designed to foster initiative, enterprise, and independence in those we help.
ADRA Canada’s joint work with communities to improve access to their own food, water, health care, education, opportunities and justice is enabled by your generous support, and is multiplied dramatically. Isn’t it is exciting to think that your contribution goes much further than just one person!