I’d always (mistakenly) thought that our family’s monthly cheque went solely towards our supported child’s education, food, and medical care. I had no idea that our finances went towards community development so the entire village could benefit.
In our child’s situation, he IS receiving education and health care, but there’s more. One of his sisters has received a sewing machine and has learned to sew so she can become economically self-supporting. Two destitute widows and their children have received new homes. (Think of a one room concrete house, maybe eight feet wide and 12 feet long, and imagine sharing that with three kids – it beats the mud and rock house that was destroyed by rain). A third has received a toilet and shower facility. (Think of a concrete outhouse in the backyard and you get the picture. It sure beats having no shower facilities, and using the open fields as a toilet.) Mothers are being taught about the importance of child immunizations and HIV awareness, and kids are receiving regular medical checkups. There’s also a women’s self-help group that meets regularly to help participants become economically independent through the establishment of small business and to inform them of their legal rights (ie: they have a legal right to have sterile instruments used during child delivery and can demand to receive this service rather than risk infection through dirty instruments). Amazing! And I also learned that in this particular project area, there are six communities working together and Canadians sponsor more than 2500 children here.
World Vision’s structure is particularly impressive. The WV India team doesn’t dictate who will or will not receive sponsorship. Rather, it leaves that to the local leaders who know the families and can determine whose need is greatest. There’s a committee comprised of locals who also determine the community’s greatest needs (ie: do they have an adequate water source or could they benefit from having concrete water storage tanks to collect a six-month supply during the monsoon season?). The WV team networks to disperse funds but each member spends at least two days visiting projects to follow up and build strong relationships with the locals.
I was also very impressed with the hearts of the men in the WV office. They’re humble and hard-working. They’re passionate about their work and about seeing transformation take place in the lives of those who are the poorest of the poor.