"I know that I can donate to the organization through the website, but I would prefer to sponsor one child's education completely" was what was written in a mail that dropped in my box this morning. It came from an Indian living abroad.
I often get request like this and I reply to them individually.. some undesrtand , others never write back. This time I thought it would be better to address the 'sponsorship' issue in an open post.
I do not know when 'sponsoring children' became a fashionable option in the ever growing charity business.. and many moons ago, when I had not started work on the field, it seemed acceptable..
Today it is something that I find difficult to accept, and even though I know it closes many doors to me, I find it not in tune with the project why spirit.
I will try and explain why...
Project why's main trust is to empower people to take on the reins of their lives, and stand on their own.. and singling out one child is a sure of way of marginalising her or him. For us all the children are the same and they all the deserve the best... and as we hope one day to have the community itself steer the project by pooling resources, the idea of sponsored kids does not work.
Then, project why being a support education system, cannot ensure that a child will remain with us for a given time. His parents may leave the area, or the city... or some other case of force majeure may lead to them leaving..
What we seek is support to continue our work which extends far beyond simple education. In empowering a community you must gain its trust and reach out whenever a problem arises. Only then will people accept your ideas and your suggestions. A simple school certificate that can be obtained with a mere 33% , is not what will change India.They are larger issues that need to be addressed.
We do understand that donors want to know where 'their money goes'. That is why we set ot what we call an adoption plan for want of a better word, and hence a donor can chose a group of kids, and we then provide information about the group.
That is one end of the story, but there is a more disturbing one. Why is it that we give more easily when there is heart wrenching story, a terrible calamity, a face to relate to.. is it not much more because of some inadequacy in us... lack of trust in the other, some innate fear..
When we launched our one rupee programme, it was with the idea of blurring the great donor-recipient divide, to make everyone a potential donor.. and we still believe that it will happen some day, as that is the only long term option to sustain such efforts.. till then we hope tat those of you who think we are doing something worthwhile will continue believing in us!