This post primarily addresses Global Goal #1 (No Poverty), but it has the potential to address Goals 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), and 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation)! Learn more about why this matters here. #17in17
Every Saturday morning, my 9 year old nephew Peter wakes up early as the sun rises on the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah. He is a list-maker, and finds tremendous joy in checking off each to-do item he has planned. Among the things on his Saturday lists are his chores – some of which help him earn a few extra dollars to spend on legos, toys, or treats. But there is one chore that is reserved for a special purpose, and it is called the “Dapika chore”. Peter and his 11 year old sister, Eliza both do a Dapika chore each month for which they each earn $5. And every month they donate that $5 to a young girl they have yet to meet named Dapika who lives in Nepal (mom and dad cover the difference of $20/month).
The Dapika chores began after Peter and Eliza’s mom took them to a traveling exhibit called the Compassion Experience where they walked through two semi trucks hearing voices of children telling stories about their lives. They could see what homes and schools in different countries looked like. They learned about sad family and life situations, and about how after the children got sponsored, their lives changed for the better and were able to get needed medical care and schooling, etc. All of it was based on true stories. After it was over, Peter and Eliza were convinced that their family needed to sponsor child.
Choosing an Way to Give
Their parents did a lot of research before choosing an organization through which to sponsor a child. They wanted to be sure that the funds would be used well, and that there was no pressure on the sponsored children to join any religious group, etc. Their research helped them to find Plan International USA. As an organization, it met or exceeded all of their requirements. It has an excellent rating on Charity Navigator (a non-profit company that independently rates charities based on things like how they handle finances, how transparent they are, etc.). It also allows and encourages sponsors to stay in touch with the child. There is even the option to go and visit the child you sponsor. Something I like about Plan International comes from the FAQ page of their website:
“More than 75 years of experience have taught us that helping families and communities become self-sufficient is the best way to secure children’s futures. Community-owned projects focus on Education; Youth and Economic Empowerment; Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; Health; Disaster Relief and Recovery; and Protection. […] ongoing sponsorship donations ensure that Plan can provide long-term support for sponsorship communities.”
(By the way, if a monthly payment to sponsor a child is too much, consider an alternative gift from the International Rescue Committee. They do amazing work and have affordable options as low as $18 for mosquito nets. Check them out!)
Peter, Eliza, and their parents decided as a family to sponsor a girl in Nepal because their father, Marshall worked at base camp at Mount Everest where he fell in love with concept of trekking. He hopes to one day take his family on a trek in Nepal, and they all hope to visit Dapika while they are there.
Making a Difference
Eliza and Peter’s mom (my sister, Kristen) has noticed that her children love learning more about what it is like to live in Nepal when letters between the children are exchanged. Peter specifically asked for money for Christmas and has earned more since just to give to Dapika. His mom reports that he has about $35 saved up to ship her a soccer ball. She thinks it is nice to see her children sacrifice in small ways for Dapika and notes that they never complain about their Dapika chores. It’s a good sign that her children see how much they have, how lucky they are, and how important it is to share the love.
Last year when Kristen told me that she and her family had decided to sponsor a child in a developing country, and that it was going well, my family decided to do the same thing. I love learning about ways to involve my children in activism. This seemed like a relatively simple and consistent way for them to be involved. We now sponsor a girl named Manisha. Now our children also do chores to help earn money for her each month. I know that sponsoring one child is like spit in the ocean. It hardly seems to make a difference at all, but it makes a difference to that one child. It makes a difference for Dapika and for Manisha.
Today is Valentine’s Day. To honor this day, how will you share your love in the world?